Monday, October 31, 2011

Spicing Up My Morning Message

It has been entirely too long since my last blog post, but... I think things are starting to calm down in my first grade room. My big goal when I started this year was to focus on creating a classroom community. I have been using "Being a Writer" and have found this to be a good resource for teaching respect and responsibility during writing. The majority of my class has responded well to the social skills objectives that "Being a Writer" builds into the regular writing lessons, something that many of my students are severely lacking.

Another resource that I am LOVING right now is a Scholastic resource called "Trait Based Writing" by Maria Walther and Katherine Phillips. Not only is it a great compilation of all the "famous" writing experts (Lucy Calkins, Katie Wood Ray etc.) but they also provide TONS of examples on how to spice up your morning message and work in those writing objectives during the classroom meeting. Today instead of writing my typical, "Good Morning Class, Today is ... " message, I wrote this:

I am orange. You can make pie with me. I have seeds. What am I?

I explained that each clue is a sentence and we talked about how many words were in each clue, as well as the uppercase letter at the beginning and period at the end. It was like I saw light bulbs going off over 20 little heads. They started to see that I have to put the period at the end of the sentence or else the clue didn't make sense and wouldn't help them solve the riddle. In other words, the concept of a clue helped highlight the importance of writing complete sentences and marking the end of a sentence with a period. I also had students add one more clue to our list of clues. They came up with "I am round." We counted the number of words on our fingers, then I drew the lines for each word, and lastly the students came up and wrote each word on a line. Not only did I manage to keep their attention throughout the entire morning message, but I found another way to explain how words and sentences work together. It was a great opportunity for differentiation too!

This Scholastic book is a great resource, especially because you can download a digital copy from Scholastic's website. Walther and Phillips have outlined all different writing lessons by month! They include morning message ideas, genre studies, and 6 + 1 trait based lessons. What really impressed me about this book is how the authors discuss incorporating journal writing, writer's workshop, reader's response, shared writing, writing for sounds, and morning message into an already packed day. I highly recommend this resource, especially because you can read it month by month when you are looking for some writing inspiration.