If you teach elementary, you’re likely familiar with the idea of a morning meeting or class meeting. This is typically a time for community building and connection.
I am a huge Responsive Classroom fan, so I use their components:
- Greeting: This is where students greet one another by name
- Sharing: This can include shorter shares such as a favorite color or whether or not you have a pet; it can also include longer, in depth shares. Part of this section includes teaching appropriate comments and questions which I find incredibly valuable.
- Activity: This can be very simple such as asking “Who Remembers whose favorite place is the beach?” after a share. It can be a more complicated game. It can include mind games as I describe in this post. It can be a review game like those from this post. It can be academically focused or just for fun.
- Message: This is usually just a message to students about the day ahead. It can include announcements, a question, a prompt that requires response, etc. In primary grades, this often intentionally includes word work patterns.
While in primary grades, I would have students read aloud the morning message (chorally or otherwise), I usually just posted a message on my easel. Actually, I often have made this a class job and students love to write the morning message for the next day with a would you rather question or poll.
The picture below happens to be the morning message for the day of school that never happened. Students wrote this while I was in a meeting the afternoon of the last day we were in school before we shut down in Spring 2020.
In the upper elementary classroom, I rarely did all of these components every day. I often combine elements: a greeting where they also have to share with whoever they greet or an activity that embeds sharing. While I always do greetings one time a week intentionally, I do not always have students greet one another daily. I do, however, always greet students in the mornings at the door or as I walk around the classroom. I learned from Ron Ritchhart at WISSIT (Washington International School Summer Institute for Teachers, a conference in DC for Project Zero ideas) that saying hello to students has the same effect as adding an hour to the school day. Greetings decrease misbehavior by 9% and increase engagement by 20%. This further reinforces Responsive Classroom ideas that students need fun, belonging, and significance. If no one knows your name (and how to say it appropriately), you won’t feel like you belong.
When we had to switch to online learning in Spring 2020, I knew I wanted to keep elements of morning meeting.
Each day, I used a slideshow to guide our agenda. At the center, I put a prompt or directions for an activity. I didn’t have a lot of time for morning meeting, but there was always a way we could connect.
These images are all slides from my Daily slideshow plans. You can see my whole slideshow here.
I loved using these strategies to build community in online morning meetings:
- Picture Prompts
- I often used pictures like those above to get students chatting as they entered our online classroom. Many of my sixth graders were still a little sleepy in the mornings and 5-10 minutes late.
- These pictures also were great for times when we did not meet live. They could be posted in Google Classroom in the stream where students just responded to the question. Google Classroom also has a Question Assignment option that’s more of a discussion board feature and more structured. You can also grade those responses if your share were academically focused.
- Collaborative Google Slides for Individual Shares
- You can see an example of this with a Color Symbol Image thinking routine. Each student shares on one slide.
- I also did this with a bingo card where students marked up their bingo card for activities they’d done throughout quarantine. When they got “Bingo” they could call out.
- I let students just share their favorite memes one day. They could each fill up a slide with appropriate jokes.
- Collaborative Google Slides for Partner Games
- Think Fun Games are available easily and can be done in partners
- Connect Four
- “Pictionary” through something like skribbl.io
- Whole Class Game Templates/Sites
- Quiz style sites such as Kahoot! can be silly and non-academically focused. A co-teacher of mine set up a Kahoot! where each question was asking what students were known for. Each answer choice was correct, but it was still fun for kids to “vote” on the positive and silly characteristics of classmates.
- Four Corners in the classroom is when students are physically moving to corners of the room. In synchronous sessions, students can move a text box with their name to different parts of the slide.
- Similar to four corners, students can physically move their name along a continuum of choices. You can see examples of templates like these on Theresa Wills’s website.
- Flipgrid Sharing
- Before I had as many live sessions, I did a couple of Flipgrid morning meetings. I gave a prompt to students to share (Rose, Thorn, Bud or Would You Rather…?) and they recorded themselves answering the prompt. This was so much more personal than just seeing writing. Students can also respond to one another in Flipgrid. My 6th graders were a little camera shy, but they loved at least seeing me and those brave enough to post. New filters on Flipgrid have made it a bit easier for students to share even if they’re uncomfortable.
I hope these resources give you some ideas for your own online classroom!