Saturday, August 17, 2013

Morning Meeting- Spark Student Motivation

I'm sure we have all had this happen.

You are in the middle of a great lesson and you ask a question that requires deep thinking and understanding of the topic and all of these hands go up to answer the question, including that student who never raises their hand.

So you are thinking, yay!  They have it!!  So you call on him or her and wait excitedly for the answer...

And here it is:

"Last night, when I was going to bed, we found this huge spider on my pillow, so I got my shoe and squished it but then there were spider guts all over my pillow.  It was disgusting."



What does this have to do with why the Revolutionary War was started????

Um, it has nothing to do with that.  It's just a personal story.

Has it ever happened to you?

Well, here is my solution.  Morning Meeting.

This particular way to do morning meeting was not my original idea.  I observed in a classroom a couple of years ago and when I walked in, they were having their morning meeting.  I adored it, so I tried it.  And, it works.

I call it "Y'all know what?"

Here's how it works:

When my students arrive in the morning, they have morning work at their seat.  I usually use morning work as a grade because we are so busy during the day, I rarely have them sit and do a daily grade because I like to teach teach teach!

So, they come in between 7:45 and about 8:10.  They complete their morning work- usually just a quick worksheet.  Then, they get their book and come to my carpet area and start our circle (well, it's really an oval, but you know what I mean).
This is part of the front of my room.  There is more floor space to the left.  This is one of the reasons I set my room up like all of them can get on the floor...which can be challenging at times with 28+ fourth graders.

We having morning announcements on our news show at 8:15.  Then, we have ten minutes before we start math- the perfect time for morning meeting!!

So, once the announcements are over, I choose someone who would like to start the meeting.

This is their opportunity to share anything they want.  Anything.  And, seriously, anything can come out of their mouths...

So, it goes like this (each student goes through this when they start their short story...)

Bob says, "Y'all know what?"

Class says, "What Bob?"

Bob says, "We've been begging my mom for a dog and she says if me and my brother get good grades this nine weeks, we can get a dog!"

Now, I try to keep discussion about this to a minimum because I want every student to get the opportunity to share, but I may comment on the statement and say, "Wow, that's so awesome!  Do you know what kind of dog you might get?"  Bob can answer and then we move on to the next student.

Susie says, "Y'all know what?"

Class says. "What Susie?"

Susie says, "Saturday I'm going to Six Flags."

On to the next student in the circle.  And so on.  It gets a little hard keeping them from discussion about each moment shared, but I try to keep it moving.  They get used to it, though.  We just keep going around the circle.

If a student doesn't have anything they want to share, they just say pass.  But, usually, they hear something someone else says, and they think of something.  I always end it by saying, "Is there anyone that hasn't shared?"

Sometimes some of the students are still working, but they can still hear what is being said, and they can still share.

It just becomes part of the morning routine.  Kids are finishing work, turning it in, grabbing a book and sitting on the carpet, quietly waiting to begin morning meeting.  Then we start the meeting and people are adding themselves to the circle and listening.

I, of course, explain and model how to listen intently and be respectful when people are sharing.  They do pretty good with it.  It only gets a little hairy when someone shares something that excites everyone and then I just have to take control and try to move on.  But, mostly, they can run it themselves.

While they are sitting on the carpet doing this, I am going around checking their agendas and homework, but still listening and responding.

Ten minutes is usually enough time.  At 8:25 I have students that have to leave to go to math pull out, so we have to try to get it in.  But, it's totally doable.

I wanted to link up with our sweet friend Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her:

It seems this is very motivating.  I knew it was fun, but it was confirmed for me yesterday.  

First off, one of my students from last year dropped in for a hug on her way to her class.  I told her I missed her and she said, "I miss you too.  And, I really miss getting to do morning meeting every morning."

This was totally not what I thought she would say, but it made me happy!

Then, yesterday after school, one of the teachers I work with has her son in my class.  She must have asked him what was something he liked about fourth grade and he said, "You know how when you have something you want to share, but it's not about school so you aren't supposed to share it?  Well, I like that we get to share things about ourselves that has nothing to do with school in the mornings before we get started."

Awww.  How cute!  I was so glad she shared that with me!

Now, obviously this is a southern-fried meeting (saying y'all and everything) but I'm sure if you wanted to try something similar, you could make it your own.  I like that they have to say "Y'all know what?" and the other students have to answer by saying what and the person's name- I think this makes them pay attention.

Last year, my students ran with it from day one and never looked back.  This year, it's a slower start.  Some of them don't want to share.  BUT, it's gotten better every day and they are getting used to it, so I think very soon they will all want to share.  :O)

This year, Stacia is even doing it!  I think we both like how it allows them to share something, but also promotes community. That was one of the big reasons I tried it two years ago.  I had so many kids getting pulled out at all times that I rarely had my whole class together.  I felt like I wasn't getting to know my students that were pulled out for the majority of the day, and their classmates weren't getting to know them either.  I just really wanted them to all know each other and build that bond.  I really think it works!

Do you do a morning meeting?  What is it like?  And if you don't, maybe you'll consider trying it this's really fun!!!

Have a great weekend!


  1. I love this idea, Amanda!! It is SO true that they want to share that other stuff all the time. I think it shows that you care about their personal stories and builds a great classroom community. Since we are departmentalizing this year, it will be tricky but I definitely have more time with my "homeroom" where I can fit this in! I think we will say, "You guys know what?" :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  2. I love this idea too. I have been trying to fit in a class meeting daily but there is just so much we have to do. Plus my team wants to switch for language right away (we do a 3rd-5th grade ability group for an incredible reading/language program daily). Because of this by the time announcements are over at 8:03ish we are lined up ready to move. I have been trying to get it in later but still not very successfully. I think I will keep up the tweeking and fine tuning my schedule. It is so important for the kiddos to have this time.

  3. What a great idea!! I have students all the time that want to share in the middle of the lesson! Thanks for sharing.


  4. I am trying to figure out when to do this with my class because our schedule is so crazy this year. I reeeeally wanted to start it this year but we are required to serve our RTI students first thing in the AM now while all the others are working on DBQs. Maybe I can do it before starting SS/Sc!?
    xoxo CSIvey

  5. What a great idea! I have a few extra minutes each morning before we switch for classes and I usually try to ask my students what they are wondering about, but I may try this one as a way to change it up a little! I love the y'all thrown in there too and I know my kiddos will really get into that part. Thanks for the great idea!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  6. I wish I could do a morning meeting everyday! Last year I was only able to do it twice a week (the other three days my kiddos had specials to start the day.) This year I should be able to squeeze it in three days a week. (That's the hope!)

    Hunter's Teaching Tales
    Find me on Facebook

  7. I can totally relate to the random comments during a lesson & I just wanted to tell you that I absolutely adore this idea. Great idea for all grades. Thank you for posting about it.


  8. Love this idea...and I can totally relate to the 'huh?' comments we hear too often!

  9. Fabulous idea! I think I might need to try this with my kiddos! It's perfect because I say "y'all" all the time too! Thank you so much for sharing!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  10. I'm so glad other teachers get those random stories too! haha I know some schools in our district have morning meetings, but they're usually academic focused...I love the personalization of your meeting. I love all community building activities and this is being added to the list! Fantastic Amanda! Thanks for linking up friend!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

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