Starting the day off on the right foot can make a HUGE difference in the way the rest of the day unfolds. No matter if you're a student or a teacher, research shows having a set morning routine can boost happiness, increase productivity, reduce stress levels and get you grounded and settled for the day. By having a pre-determined structure to the morning, students know what to expect and this helps them settle into the day in an anxiety-free way.
Your morning routine is going to be unique depending on your class' needs and your teaching style. Even though everyone's morning routine is going to be slightly different, I thought I'd share a bit of my morning routine to give you a few ideas. I've been tweaking my routine every year to meet the needs of my students, and this year meant that those tweaks were extra necessary to meet COVID restrictions.
This is one of my favourite parts of the day! Studies show that starting the day with a personalized greeting promotes feelings of belonging helps all students feel valued. Having the chance to connect with each of my students before the day really begins and do a quick check-in on their emotional state makes a big difference on how I approach the rest of my day. If you want more details about how I use these Morning Greetings, check out my post on Building Relationships during COVID.
Silent Reading Entry
I love using 'lecture à soi' or read to self quietly as an entry routine. This gives the students who are quick at changing out of their outdoor clothing and getting all their stuff organized something to do. What I love about it is that it gives another dedicated time for students to read and it's a quick activity.
I know many people like to do morning work or bell work as their entry task. For me, I just find that it takes too long, especially in Grade 1 🤷🏼♀️. Anything that requires pencil and paper tasks is at least a 15 minute activity minimum. So by using a silent reading entry, it gives the students something to do until everyone is in the classroom and ready to go, as well as gives me the few minutes necessary to do attendance and check in with the students. With sharing restrictions this year, I give each of my students 3 books to keep in their personal bin on Monday and then collect them on Friday for quarantining over the weekend.
I like to start my morning meeting with a message to help students work on their decoding skills. I try to use high frequency words that students will encounter in their beginning readers. I also usually talk a bit about our day which helps ease the unpredictability for students with anxiety (in addition to our visual schedule).
Each students takes a turn saying the word and then underlining the word they found. This is a bit more challenging with COVID, but I've tried three different methods that seem to work.
1) The student says the word from their desk and I underline the word. This is my least fave option because I find the students aren't as engaged when they don't get to come up.
2) I gave each student a popsicle stick and wearing their mask, they come up and point at the word. I then underline the word for them.
3) Each student has their own marker and comes up in their mask to underline the word.
Throughout the year, I change up the morning message format, doing things like 'le chef du jour' where one student fills in blanks about themselves, 'qui suis-je?' mystery messages, and a question of the day format where all the students answer the question orally after we finish identifying all the words in the message.
Then we move into the second part of our morning meeting which is our daily check-in. I originally started by using the paper version of this Comment te sens-tu aujourd'hui? product, but then switched to the digital version because it's easier for my students to see from behind their desk shields. Each student says how they are feeling that day and then I move their icon to that section. Later in the year when they have a larger vocabulary, we add in 'parce que' to explain why they're feeling that way. This is a great way to do a feelings check-in AND work on oral communication at the same time.
The final part of my morning routine before beginning dedicated literacy work is a little DPA to get the students moving and provide some physical stimulation. My students love GoNoodle so I will use that sometimes, but I do like to find some options that are French and more physical fitness oriented. I've been using a series of videos by a French trainer that is geared towards kids and each video is about 10 minutes in length. I've previewed a few and I would suggest doing the same because there are a few where the trainer is shirtless. Not that it's a big deal, but it would create a little bit of chaos and hilarity with my Grade 1 kiddos 🤣🤷🏼♀️ When I do use GoNoodle, I try to use the Fresh Start Fitness channel to get the same effect, just without the French.
To sum it up...
Well that's about it! This is how I start my morning on a daily basis and it takes about 30 minutes top to bottom. After I finish it all up, we move on to our main literacy block of the day. Like I said earlier, this routine may not work for you, but it's important to have some form of consistent morning routine to give the students a predictable start to their day.
In the next few weeks, I'll be posting about outdoor gym games that are socially distant and equipment-free, as well as my weekly literacy plan.
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