One of those questions that isn't just on topic, but is asked for clarification. A question that not only you can answer in depth, but you know, had it not been asked, the whole class may have been left with only a superficial understanding of what you were trying to convey, and now thanks to this question you get a second chance to make it all crystal clear for everyone?
Well I got one of those in my comment section last week, haha! :D
I mentioned it in passing last week, but thanks to you I thought, "Why not take the whole thing apart and show everyone what it actually entails?"
Before I do, first of all I should explain that the kit is really just a collection of things that I had been using for Morning Meeting that was cluttering up a nearby table. This isn't a list I got out of a book or even planned at the beginning of the year. Second of all, in case you're not 100% familiar with the term Morning Meeting, it's part of the Responsive Classroom method of building classroom community. There's tons of information online, the Morning Meeting Book series is very readable and practical, and honestly explaining the whole thing would be beyond the scope of this post. However, I will say that the four main components that my principal introduced me to right away, and that I still stick to is to have my fourth graders:
- Do a Greeting with each other
- Share news and/or items
- Have a group Activity (nearly always a game) and finally have
So here are the items I use on a daily basis during Morning Meeting:
The box. I originally had all these things strewn around a table, and it was a little bit maddening how messy it looked. Then I put it all into a tub, but even that looked like a box of junk. In the end, I opted for vertical storage. It works beautifully.
2. My "Shares Sign Up Board." I blogged about this system over on All Things Upper Elementary earlier this year, but essentially I have a student roster, and each student needs to complete a task in their box in order to sign up to share in the morning. There's a bit more to it, in that it's got a sheet protector to save paper and grade 4 common core aligned tasks to complete, but that's the crux of it.
3. My Mystery Person envelope. I got this idea from a teacher's forum (if I can find who to credit I will update this post). I told the kids that two behaviors that I want them to work on is not blurting out, and being organized (specifically: quickly taking out the appropriate materials during transition times to get ready for that subject). At the start of the day, I pick two names, but don't tell them who. Then, throughout the day I watch those two students especially to see if they are completing the task, while reminding the class, "I see so and so is (name the desired behavior); I wonder if they are the Mystery Person!" Everyone in the class then snaps to! If a Mystery Person does not do what they need to do, I tell the class that for today they will remain a mystery! However if they do, they get a round of applause/bragging rights, and they can pick out a sticker from my portfolio.
4. Student of the Month information. We focus on character education at my school, and we have a different trait that we strive to improve each month (such as cooperation, empathy, and responsibility). This file folder contains a list of the traits, definitions to help me guide my discussion at the start of each month, and slips of paper for students who need a "warning" for not making good choices to improve themselves in this area. I have this Student of the Month system available for purchase as well.
5. Character building anchor charts (from Pinterest!) that I love, which I pull out on an as needed basis. You can see my Pinterest collection of classroom posters here.
6 & 7. Game materials include a white board, eraser, marker, and ball. These come in handy for various games we play. The bottle of water is actually out of place in this shot; it's for me for wiping off the Shares Sign Up board each week.
8. The kids' names on sticks. Originally I used their lunch sticks to pull for games and comments, but it started to become a hassle to use the sticks for a dual purpose on opposite sides of the room and at different times (thanks to rotating specials times). It became more practical to have a new set right in the kit. Also, I use these to pull names for the Mystery Person. Then I use the lunch sticks for the rest of the day. Because of course, if I used the lunch sticks for the Mystery Person, then I pulled Billy's lunch stick to answer a question in math, Billy knows he's not the Mystery Person today. This way it can stay a mystery!
10. More Student of the Month information. The kids nominate each other every Monday for Student of the Month, so I have a roster (it's partly covered there to protect privacy) to keep track of each topic, who's been nominated for the topic, and who the eventual "winner" was.
11. A pile of "Greetings" and a pile of "Activities." I usually change these up each Monday, so if I feel like trying something new, or I want a specific purpose (such as cooperation) I can just flick through these for inspiration. I did not make these; a simple Google search yielded loads of them for free, but I got the bulk of my Greetings and Games here, from Mrs. Bainbridge.
12. Twitter Board: Not pictured above, but I blogged about my Twitter board as a new Share system a few weeks ago. This is so that anyone who didn't sign up, yet had big news could still have it posted, and if I feel it's big enough to talk about I do.
So that's my Morning Meeting Kit! Just a bunch of stuff that I found myself scrambling for each morning that I finally put altogether. I love it because now I'm starting out each morning super organized, and I think the kids have noticed that too. Thanks again for your question, Kimberly, and I wish you loads of luck with your first classroom!