The Morning Meeting Book - Introduction

Thursday, July 6, 2017 / 1 comment



Hello!  If you're reading this blog post than you are interested in learning more about Morning Meetings.  I consider these posts to be the cliff notes to the book The Morning Meeting Book.  It's 218 pages and since summer is short, it might make sense for me to read it and provide you with the gritty details here.  It is a great book that I highly recommend so if you'd like to read it with me, consider these posts a book club.  I'll be posting questions I have throughout the post that you can respond to in the comments (if you'd like...no pressure).  I learn better by talking, or typing, about what I'm learning so I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts.  OK.  Here we go...the INTRODUCTION.  It had a lot of information...I might not have to read the rest of the book....hahaha...just kidding.



So, let's start with a question WHY?  Why should we invest time in starting each day with a morning meeting?  Is it important enough to take the time to do it?  Is this something just for K/1?  Well....this book suggests morning meetings be implemented daily from Kindergarten all the way to Middle School/8th grade.  Yeah.  It will look different in every grade but the format (we'll get to the four components soon) will be the same.  The morning meeting creates a foundation for every lesson we teach, every conflict we resolve, and every interaction our students have.  It's important.  It helps build that positive culture/community in our classroom that our principals are looking for during their observations.  This is the backbone, folks!!  The morning meeting creates a sense of belonging and helps practice the skills of attention, listening, expression and cooperation through interactions.  The Morning Meeting is part of the Responsive Classroom.  Have you heard of that?  It was popular awhile back but is still relevant and is a research based program developed by the Northeast Foundation for Children.  One of the seven basic tenets they subscribe to is that children need to learn a set of social skills in order to be successful.  The skills are cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self-control (CARES).  So, I've already bought in...these are skills I want my students to develop and it's part of my report card.  If we want children to be able to be knowledgable and responsible despite significant obstacles, then social and emotional skills and attitudes must be taught.
The introduction explains that it all starts with greeting kids at the door.  You can learn a lot about kids if you see how they're feeling right at the start of school.  Are they sleepy?  Have they eaten?  Are they excited for the day?  Did they have a breakdown at home and got on the bus upset?  As we greet students we learn a lot about them as (little) people and also model how important it is to notice and be noticed by each other as well.
The goal of the morning meeting is to begin each day as a community of caring and respectful learners.  It starts by gathering in  a circle.  I'm thinking sit spots may help or in an older classroom having the desks form a circle.  Then everyone greets each other.  They listen and respond to each others' news.  Topics of discussion might include:  who is absent, what's the weather like, who is smiling or who is having a hard time smiling, problems that challenge our minds, what we have to look forward to with the school day's events.  The morning meeting is designed to last up to a half hour.  This is a snapshot...more on this in a later post.
There are four components to a morning meeting.  Each component is designed to practice the skills of greeting, listening and responding, group problem solving, noticing and anticipating.  The first component is Greeting.  During this time children greet each other by name often including handshaking, clapping, singing, etc.  Then there is Sharing.  During this time students share news of interest and respond to each other.  It's a time to articulate their thoughts, feelings and ideas in a positive manner.  Next is a Group Activity.  The intro was pretty short about this and simply described it as a time to build class cohesion with a short activity. I'm ready to hear more about this.  Finally there is the Morning Message.  The kids will warm up for the day by reading and discussing a daily message.  This gives them a chance to practice some academic skills to get ready for the day.
A lot of us do these things every morning.  It might not be in a circle or happen every day, but we all have our morning routines.  I'm excited to see if by implementing these components in a systematic and dependable routine it helps my students better develop social and problem solving skills.  Our goal is to get them ready for adulthood and be citizens in a society.  Developing these skills can only help.  :-)
If you're interested in purchasing The Morning Meeting Book by Roxann Kriete, please click here.
Discussion time!!  Here are some things I was thinking about as I read.  Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.  I will respond no matter if you comment tomorrow or days/years/months from now.  I love this stuff.  Lol. 

1.  Do you already do a morning meeting?  If so, what do you already include?
2.  Morning message...what does this look like in  your classroom? What have you found that works or does not work?
3.  Sometimes I feel like sharing news takes FOREVER.  Do you plan on allowing every student a chance to share every day or will you pick a few a day?  How will you track this?
4.  What do you think a morning meeting looks like in upper grades/middle school?

Please check back for the next post, MORNING MEETING:  an overview.  :-)


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BEST 100TH DAY OF SCHOOL. EVER. SERIOUSLY.

Sunday, February 5, 2017 / Leave a Comment


Guys!!!! I'm so excited about the 100th day of school this year!!!!

This is my first year teaching full day K (I'm piloting a full day K program with three other teachers this year) and so I took this opportunity to get super creative for our 100th day of school!!!

Kindergarteners love to have fun so that was my only goal for the day....well, along with hitting standards and learning too!!  But learning is always fun!!


Some backstory....over the weekend I got together with my room mother and we decorated my room to surprise the kids!! We have a SUPER DUPER HUGE surprise for the kids at the end of the day so....


...watch the two videos below to hear more about our fun!!  Also, follow me on Instagram (@totallyelementary) for more fun pics and videos from behind the scenes.

Below are my two videos detailing the fun for our day!! (I got interrupted by my little one halfway through so good things come in twos!!)





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End of the Year Teacher Gift

Thursday, May 26, 2016 / Leave a Comment

I couldn't wait for my kids to be in school so I could show their teachers how much they mean to me. I know how much a small gift can lift my spirits, so when my daughter started preschool I couldn't wait to shower her teacher with gifts throughout the year.  Now, we're down to our final one....the end of the year gift!

I wanted S's gift to scream SUMMER VACAY!  After browsing Pinterest for some inspiration, I decided to combine a couple of the gifts I saw.  We work on a tight budget so my goal was to spend less than $20 for both the teacher and teacher's assistant gifts.  

I headed to Target where I found $5 beach towels in the Dollar Spot $5 and below spot???  Luckily the twine was beside the towels for only $1.  We headed to nail care and my daughter picked out two nail polish colors.  While we were waiting to check out she grabbed two magazines and TADA....end of the year teacher gifts!!  After Cartwheel and my 5% red card discount.....$18.83.  SUCCESS!!

Any other end of the year gift ideas??

Happy End of the Year!!



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Teacherpreneur Tips and Takeaways from the TPT Meet Up PART 1

Thursday, April 14, 2016 / 3 comments
Guys!!!!  This newbie went to the Northeastern Regional TpT Meet-Up in Rochester, NY last weekend.  I am so incredibly happy that I took the leap and attended my first Teachers Pay Teachers meet up.  It was better than anything I imagined.  The friends I made and the knowledge I gained were totally worth the anxiety I had about leaving my family (for the first time) and taking a trip.



Everything from the welcome bag when you arrived, to the cocktail party and birthday cake for Teachers Pay Teacher's 10th birthday when we left, was absolutely perfect.  I can't wait to share all of the fun details!!!  I will be doing another blog post soon that will chronicle all the amazingness of the weekend.

For this post though, I wanted to share some of my takeaways and the teacherpreneur tips I learned and made note of.  In Part 1 of my You Tube debut, I talk the first five things I jotted down in my notes app.



The weekend was full of networking and conversation.  I mean the first event was a wine tasting and then we headed straight to dinner so there was LOTS of conversation before the conference even began.  I was the dork who listened in to all the fun conversations and tried to soak in all the information.  I had my notes app out and I would jot down tips, websites...basically any information that might help me on my TpT/blogging journey.

Flash forward to a week later. It is a lazy Thursday evening and I impulsively made my FIRST VIDEO and SHARED IT.  AHHHHH (insert emoji face with the wide eyes!)

Sooo.....check it out and let me know what you think!!




Thanks for stopping by!!!


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Five for Friday {We had a Lot of Fun this Week!}

Friday, February 26, 2016 / 7 comments

I'm so excited for Five for Friday this week!  
Thanks for hosting this weekly linky, Doodle Bugs Teaching!!!  

After a TON of testing and SNOW DAYS, I feel like we are finally back in the swing of things!!!



I am really excited about the writing goals we established this week!  I bought this awesome writing goal pack from The Teacher Talk.  This week in writing I have seen such growth, just from setting specific goals and targeting instruction.  



When I taught third grade (four years ago....), I loved doing jigsaw activities with my class.  I would divide them into color groups.   Once they were in their color groups, I would assign each group member a letter.  Then all of the kids with the the same letter would get together and read a passage to become an expert on a topic.  After everyone was an expert, they went back to their color groups and shared their learning with their team members.  This was a fun way to teach a lesson!

I've been wanting to try something similar in kindergarten and I finally found something that worked!  I divided students into four mixed ability groups.  Each group sat at a table together.  Then I assigned each table a topic that they would have to write a fact about.  I read two pages from a  nonfiction book and signaled the groups when I was going to read information pertaining to their particular topic.  When I was done reading (about two minutes of oral reading), the students talked and wrote a rough draft of a sentence about their topic.  Once I checked their sentence for accuracy, they wrote a final copy sentence with a magic marker (score!).  Finally each group shared their sentence with the whole group and we posted the sentences on a graphic organizer on the front board.  We did this three different days this week and broke our nonfiction book (about Dental Health) into three different parts.  It was amazing how good they got at this by the end of the week!



This summer I decided I needed to get in shape before I left for the beach (in 18 days-procrastinator).  So, I drew a 100's chart and made a goal to run 100 miles before we left.  I tracked my running by coloring in the boxes for each mile I ran.  The good news...I made my goal and felt great on vacation.  The bad news...I've fallen off the wagon with only little spurts of great exercise and terrible eating habits.  SO, I've decided to try it again!  My goal is to run 100 miles before my son's 3rd birthday, April 2nd.  
I think I can...I think I can....I think I can....

I do my best thinking in the shower and this week was no exception!  A new sight word game came out of nowhere!!

1-Students choose 5 random sight words and write them on whiteboards (one in each corner and one in the middle).
2- Randomly pick sight words.  
3-If a student has the sight words on their whiteboard, they get to erase it.  (I have them raise their hands before they erase so I can check to make sure they really have it).
4-Whoever is first to erase all their words, wins!!!

-I write a list of the sight words that were chosen so students who don't have their sight words memorized can check the list and see if they have a match on their whiteboard.  

This is a total hit in my K class!!



This is my new WOW WALL!  I wanted a place to celebrate my students' successes!  A little WAKE ME UP KGFonts and POOF.....my wall was created!!  
At first, I was writing specific successes (-student- mastered all 47 kindergarten sight words), then I decided that I didn't want students comparing their awards so I decided to go with....(student) met her sight word goal OR (student) met his letter sounds goal.  This went up yesterday and I am excited to see all their smiling faces on the wall!!


Well, I actually felt productive this week.  I hope I can continue this streak next week!!

Cheers!







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Five For Friday!! Love and Birthdays...

Friday, February 19, 2016 / 4 comments

It's time for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching!!

I guess I have a theme this week....birthdays and families.  

Happy Birthday to me!! 


My two little ones decorated me a cake.  It was AWESOME!!!!




We also went to the mall.  They are inseparable!!!!   (xoxo)




I got a bracelet to go with my Christmas present!  I love having an apple watch!!  It's so nice to be able to discretely check your watch to see if a text or phone call is important without pulling out your phone.  Plus, I'm on time for specials and dismissal.  SCORE!!!



I have a hard time picking out V-Day cards.  They're usually way too mushy and sound nothing like something that would come out of my mouth.  Then I found this one.  I loved it.  But it cost $6.   So, I took a picture instead.  It's the thought that counts, right??




This is how I hope to spend my weekend.  Every moment counts!

Until next week....














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Love. It's all you need.

Sunday, February 14, 2016 / 2 comments

I've been married for 11 years.  I love my husband.  Over the last four years, we created two little humans.   A new kind of love came over me.  An overwhelming love.  An all encompassing love.  And I got swallowed in the love.  

With love, came the fear of not doing right by my kids.  Not being the best mom.  Not providing them with everything they need.  Not being healthy and there for my kids.  

The anxiety of being a working mom who wanted to be 100% at work and then 100% at home was very real.  

With all the effort I put forth into being the best for everyone else, I lost myself.  Without loving myself, could I really be present for everyone else?

So, almost five years later I am learning to love myself.  I go to the gym.  I put my phone away.  I read books.  I started a blog.  I play around on Instagram.  I started creating on TpT.  These outlets help my anxiety and fears subside.  I am a more present mother and wife. And teacher.  

There's a lot more to this story.  Maybe for another time.  For now, on Valentine's Day, I am focusing on love.....for my husband, kids and myself.  



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