I Play as Part of a Classroom and Global Community
Morning meeting is a very special time in the classroom. It is the time we come together, settle in as friends and learners, and set the tone for the day. The routine of the meeting creates a sense of safety and security. At the same time, it allows children to develop an understanding of the day that is about to unfold, and the unique dynamic that is present within the classroom. It is a time for the predictable, but it also a time for stretching our minds and bodies gently out of our comfort zones. This year, I have decided to create a format for our morning meeting that allows for predictable routines, creating balance in our learning, and looking beyond our daily lives to see the perspective of others. It is a routine that takes into account the community within our classroom, and the global community of young children learning around the world.
One of the challenges of using technology with littles is finding meaningful time and opportunity to routinely model manipulating of tools. We need to practice the logistics of where keys are located on the keyboard, and how to do things such as add text or insert an image or drawing to a project. Since our classroom has shared devices, I have often integrated modeling of Chromebook or iPad tools in small groups. This year, I wanted to make sure I had more consistent opportunities for modeling and allowing children to practice and problem solve as a group. This frees up their independent and small group time to applying knowledge rather than focusing on the skills of manipulating technology. Here is a look at the format, and some ideas about how we will learn technology practices in conjunction with routines, content exploration, learning, and discovery.
Ahead of Time
As part of my planning for the week, our Morning Meeting Hyperdoc will be updated to include new connections to our learning. As you will see, some slides are meant to be used routinely. Others slides are more meaningful when updated to reflect learning themes and exploration, as well as personal interest of students as presented through play.
Morning Check In
The first slide focuses on the morning check in routine. Using Google Slides allows me to have the project open on my computer, and at the same time, have it available to students on Chromebooks at our morning check in stations. I have included a video of morning music up in the corner to minimize the set up process on the teacher end. I often scramble at the last minute to put on quiet music for the children to enter into. One less step for prep is always a good thing! As part of the morning routine, each child visits the check in station to practice clicking on his or her name and manipulating it to move it to the side that shows they are at school. Repeated opportunity to practice when sharing classroom devices is important for children as they develop muscle memory and understanding of keyboard manipulation. Later in the year, this slide might be updated so that children add a text box and type in his/her name independently. The point is that the routine should grow with the children and match their readiness to explore new skills. The current slide is only a starting point.
Playlists are awesome resources for classroom songs! On this slide, I tried to include some favorites to start the day. Some of them are more meaningful with the included video, while others lend themselves to turning off any visual input and listening/singing along. Again, the slide can be updated to include new songs as the year progresses. It is all about matching the needs and moods of the children within the classroom community. Including music to start the day (and continuing throughout!) is a critical element in creating a balanced early childhood learning experience.
I LOVE morning message! It is an opportunity to develop concepts of print, sight words, activate prior knowledge, make connections...the list really goes on. When I did the morning message on chart paper, children were invited to come up and circle/underline/highlight elements of the message to "teach their friends." Moving the message into a slide allows children an opportunity to learn how to manipulate tools within Google Slides. This might mean highlighting, changing the color of text, using the drawing tool, or typing missing words. Again, cues are always taken from the children as they demonstrate readiness to delve more deeply into concepts and skills.
Daily Learning Focus
The next part of our morning meeting is used to create a daily focus. That does not mean that any of these things are limited to a specific time or day. In an attempt to try to create a balance, I have given priority to each of these areas so that we can make sure nothing is overlooked.
1. Mindful Monday - On Monday morning, the first task of children in our classroom is to set a weekly learning goal. They identify their goal as a: friend goal, learning goal, or behavior goal. Each child illustrates a picture of him/herself achieving the goal, and uses developmental spelling to write about it. This gives me a chance to circulate and talk to children about their goals, which we come back to throughout the day, and at the end of everyday as part of closure and personal reflection. The Mindful Monday slide sets the tone for coming into the week with a focus on tools we can use to deal with challenges that arise throughout the day. Taking time to prioritize mindfulness first thing in the week helps children to know that they are supported on all levels. The tone of the classroom is set from the very beginning.
2. Talk about it Tuesday - In our globally connected world, it is our responsibility to help children develop empathy and understanding of the world around them. That means learning to read emotions of others, learning to deal with feelings, and developing a vocabulary for clear expression and communication. This slide will include weekly photos of children from around the world engaged in different activities. It is a chance to make connections, develop empathy, and see the world beyond what they may be exposed to on a daily basis.
3. Wonder Wednesday - This slide is dedicated to STEM exploration. It may include videos with concepts that relate to thematic study, or address specific interests that have come up through play. It is a chance to prioritize the wonder that learners feel as they discover the how the world around them works.
4. Think About it Thursday - Developing understanding of opinion vs. fact, as well as respect for the opinions of others, are important concepts that we explore throughout the year. This slide can be used as a language experience chart or an opportunity for voting/graphing. Again, the opportunity to manipulate the slide together and add information is a chance for children to develop their comfort with tools while making connections in learning.
5. Fine Art Friday - The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has a wonderful collection of available images from their exhibits. They are searchable by topic and can easily be placed into slides. Giving children the opportunity to explore art in all forms as it connects to their learning is a unique experience that we can offer. A weekly trip to a museum is not a likely expectation, but a weekly exploration of a piece of fine art is certainly a reality! This slide can also be used for virtual field trips as they relate to content areas that are being explored in the classroom.
Morning meeting is a time to set the stage for the day. It is a time when we create a feeling of community, make deep connections to our learning, and prepare for the day ahead. If we want children to engage in meaningful play, we have to give them rich tools to develop their understanding. When children play in our classroom, they will often choose to recreate the morning meeting. They will take turns playing the role of the teacher and that of the student. It is often a time when I get a glimpse into how they see me, as I hear them mimic my voice and gesture. Playtime is also an opportunity for us to see children naturally extend and apply concepts. Experiments we have done, stories we have read, and vocabulary we have practiced gets integrated into their play so that they can solidify and transfer their knowledge.
Please feel free to make a copy of the Morning Meeting Hyperdoc and recreate it to meet the needs of your little ones. Remember, it is only a guide to help move through the meeting. The value of the learning experience is really in the interaction, manipulation, conversation, and discovery that happens as your classroom family comes together to start the day.
Heart & Soul,