Wednesday, June 12, 2013

How does your Morning Work?

Hey, y'all!
(much of my family is from the south so I LOVE to pretend that I use that word all the time, even though it really only pops out on occasion...and I'm from Kansas...but I digress)

I am linking up with the lovely and talented Kelli, from Castles & Crayons, for a 10-week series on classroom routines.
She calls it: "Schedule Spotlight Series", and I think it's GENIUS!

How many of you have ever been so frustrated by the way you do certain things, but it's the way you've always done things and the way your team has always done things and the way your building has always done things, so you're not sure how to change it up?

OR ON THE FLIP-SIDE, how many of you just L.O.V.E. the way you do certain things and can't believe that everyone doesn't do things the way you and your precious students do them?
Who wouldn't love to take a peek in various classrooms to glean from/inspire others to do things differently?

Well, instead of taking the time (and planning for sub days....which I certainly HATE to do!) to go and visit other classrooms, this linky provides the exact same opportunity in a virtual format!

This week's topic: Morning Work.

I wish I had some good advice for this one, but having only taught 2 years, I just know 1 way to run that routine.
My current method? 
Worksheets...from Mailbox...and other ancient, though still semi-relevant resources.

What do I like about this system?
~ Students are getting to practice a variety of skills, from math to language arts, and most are simple enough to do independently, so I can accomplish the tedious must-dos (lunch count/attendance/parent notes/homework/stuff I forgot to do at the end of the day that must be done before we start/review a new concept today, like "exit slips"...).
~ Most fit into a thematic topic or seasonal happening AS WELL AS a content skill we are working on, which for some reason makes my OCDness very happy. (don't you hate when kids take home a worksheet with snow in September, or Halloween/ghosts in February? Just me??)

What do I NOT like about this system?
~ Honestly? Everything!
    I was stretching to include things I like about the system.
    It's tired.
    It's "worksheets" (the dreaded word!).
    I have to explain over & over what they are required to do, model how to do it, and even work through several students' pages with them, so my aide typically does the aforementioned tedious to-dos.

I would much rather students come in every day with the exact same expectation (journaling, spiral review---think "Mountain Math/Language" if you're familiar with those), or even a worksheet (gasp!) that had a similar format for every day of the year.

-----I really don't want to push a product, because I'm sure that's not what this linky's about, so I won't mention names or stores. Ask me later:)-----
....I have purchased a "morning work" set from TpT that I'm confident will make me (and my students) happy with our morning routine this year!

It is Common Core aligned, includes both Math and Language Arts skills e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y., and once the students learn the expectation (after a week or maybe 2) is completely familiar enough to be done independently!
It will also include a "Number of the Day/Math Journal Word Problem" on the back to be discussed whole group as an intro to our math block.
Gotta get those math conversations rollin', you know!

Excited? Very:)
However....since the new system has not been kid-tested/teacher-approved in my room at this time, I can really only discuss what I know. Insert sad-face.

Students are able to come into the classroom at 7:50; they must report to the gym before then, and we have FABULOUS aides who keep them entertained and in-control until then:) Love you ladies!!!

My students have a 4-step process that is the exact same everyday.
We call it our "Morning Routine", and even have an anchor chart for it.
It does not look exactly like this, but very similar, just not as cute:) :
I whipped this up while I was posting.
I should probably use it, instead of the ugly construction paper one we make each year.
On Mondays, students must "shop" for their books that they will use in their book bags during Daily 5.
I call students by tables to do this while they're working through the routine above, otherwise not everyone would have books before Daily 5 starts! (speaking from experience)

By 8:20, I expect everyone to have completed most of, if not all, their morning work and shopped for books for the week (they may have 4-6 books, so this typically takes about 5-8 min per kid).
We then start our day with calendar (or review the day prior, if I forgot!)...but that's for another post!

You still have 5 days to link up and share your Morning Work "ritual" before next week's spotlight: Calendar Time.

Question, if you're still reading: What do you use for communication with parents? Packets? Binders? Folders? Carrier Pigeons??
 (okay, hopefully not that last one. They carry diseases, too, you know)
I ordered something new for this year, and I'm just curious what others use.
This will be my 3rd year, and I've had something different every year:)
Clearly, I'm in education because I love change so much, right?:)

I hope a whole bunch of us join this party!
I know I could use some great, fresh ideas:)
And just think how many "rooms" we're visiting...this should totally count for PD!
Anyone want to email my principal with that thought?


  1. I purchased a very similar morning work packet on tpt ;) I'm hoping it works with the kids next year :)


    1. I wonder if we have the same packet?:) How cool would that be! I hope you'll post about it this fall and we can compare!

  2. Hi! I just found you! Love what I've read so far and am excited to follow you this summer. My morning routine is simple: High 5 me, hang up backpacks, turn in homework, and then read to self. We build up our stamina for 20 minutes and while they are reading, I can take care of attendance, parent notes, earth shattering news, etc. I love read to self off the bat since it is guaranteed they will do it, it creates a calm atmosphere, and I don't have to prep for it! :) I do have a computer schedule so 3 kids get to go on the daily. I've done it this way for the last 5 years and wouldn't change this! :)

    1. Hi, Emma,
      Thanks for your thoughts! I LOVE that idea of Read to Self right off the bat, too. Hmmm...definitely food for thought.