The Morning Message is a powerful way for teachers to foster connections, especially when situations create disruption in the classroom.
A daily Morning Message can have a high impact in improving literacy development and maintaining a connection between students, their teacher and their learnings.
In Episode 69 of The Teacher’s Toolkit for Literacy, literacy expert Sharon Callen talked about its benefits and how to establish its purpose.
What is a Morning Message?
“A morning message is a letter addressing our class. And it might begin with different salutations such as ‘dear class’, or it might begin with a question like ‘guess what’s happening today class?’ It’s something that is addressing them and bringing them together at the beginning of the day as a community,” Sharon said.
How can a Morning Message foster connections?
Creating a daily routine with a Morning Message can ensure students stay connected, especially during difficult times like COVID.
“(At the time of recording the podcast) we’re in 2022 and we’re still in a time where we don’t always have every child with us every day, or they might be in and out a little. So a lot of teachers have said, ‘oh one of the things I’ve found a little bit harder this year is really building relationships and community with my class’,” Sharon said.
“So whilst I’ve called it a tool, the Morning Message is more than just linking to literacy. It is about making some connections to what this day is going to bring for us, and so that we can have it in written form for our students. So it’s about them being able to enter the classroom in the morning to know there is either going to be a Morning Message there waiting for them, or a Morning Message that’s going to be written in front of them as the day begins.
“And it becomes one of those routines that they look forward to. A lot of people during COVID, if they were working with their students on Zoom, were still sending a Morning Message or taking a photo of a handwritten Morning Message, or still even writing a Morning Message in front of them, because it’s just a lovely routine.”
While there are several ways to present a Morning Message, Sharon said using a book allows students to reflect and review if they have been absent.
“The children can, at any time, go back to review something that’s happened this week or last week etc. And the really powerful bit is for those children who’ve been away, they’ll love coming in to read what the Morning Messages were for the days they were missing,” she said.
What is the purpose of your Morning Message?
For a Morning Message to truly have an impact, it needs to be concise and have a purpose.
“So what do you want to do with this message? What is this message going to be about? And it really isn’t more than one to three sentences, depending on whether you have primary or secondary students,” Sharon said.
The Morning Message can particularly be useful in activating students’ thinking with a reading process.
“So what I’ve written for the Morning Message may allow us to practice a reading process, or briefly practice our fluency. Maybe I’ve written my Morning Message as a poem, so I ask my students how do we read that? Or maybe I’ve put some vocabulary in there that’s come up in content areas, or even new vocabulary that’s interesting and intriguing,” Sharon said.
“I might write a sentence where I’m really wanting them to do some inferring or I want them to make a prediction about something. So I can construct a message in really interesting ways to have my students using the strategies that we are currently exploring and working with and trying out and using.”
Sharon also provided examples of how to use Morning Messages with a writing focus.
“If writing was my focus, I could write my Morning Message within the type of text we are currently looking at. So if it was historical fiction or informational, I might write it with some of the features of those styles. If it’s informational, maybe I’ve got a heading or I might include a diagram, a cutaway or a sidebar,” she said.
“Or what if I write a Morning Message thinking about a particular author. So if we’ve got an author on the go, what if I write my Morning Message as that author would write it? So then what are we doing? Well then we’re finding some voice in writing.”
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