Dyan Branstetter | October 2018

Creative Morning Meeting Routines

This year, my school district implemented Responsive Classroom Morning Meetings in all of our elementary classrooms. This means that for the first 25 minutes of every day, every student is in a circle with their peers and teacher greeting one another and working on social-emotional skills. Not only does this meeting help all students are feeling welcome and included, but it sets the tone for the day by reviewing expectations and warming up with team building activities. Many teachers say that this has quickly become one of their favorite parts of the day.

A Responsive Classroom Morning Meeting consists of four parts:

Greeting
During the greeting, every child is greeted by name.

Group Activity
This activity can be a review of something academic to bring it back to the surface, a preview of something to come or a team challenge. It should be a quick, active activity designed for students to practice working together.

Sharing
Each child has an opportunity to share something about their life. Other students practice listening and offer empathy or share excitement while learning how to respond appropriately to one another.

Morning Message
The message is a letter posted from the teacher to the students. The students read it together to help everyone understand the focus of the day.

The Arts and the Morning Meeting

Opportunities!

It only took a few minutes into our first training on Morning Meetings for me to see a multitude of opportunities for the arts to be woven in to make our meetings effective and robust. The most effective arts integration involves both the arts teacher and the classroom teacher working together. Since my district has mandated time in our schedule for this each day (9:05 – 9:25 for ALL), it prevents our specialists from teaching a class at that time. This allows the specialists to join classroom teachers on a rotating basis.

What a perfect opportunity! With a little collaboration and planning up front, specialists and classroom teachers will be able to team-teach/lead a morning meeting. They can pull together an arts standard and content standard as the core of the morning meeting. If you don’t have the luxury of a specialist present when you have your morning meeting, integrating the arts can still work. Instead of team-teaching, collaborate and plan the meeting with your specialist and teach it by yourself.

Ideas for Integrating the Arts into the Greeting

During a basic greeting, we go around the circle with a handshake. When each student shakes his or her neighbor’s hand, he says, “Good morning, ________.” The neighbor responds with, “Good morning, __________.” After learning how to do this with eye contact, a loud voice, and a firm handshake, we change it up to a different greeting, such as a fist bump, a pinky link.

Integrating Music

Call and response is a PERFECT fit for a greeting. A call and response isn’t an echo, but instead, the leader sings one thing and the student(s) answer with something different in response. A simple start to trying a call and response could be the teacher singing, “You hoo, Michael.” And Michael would respond, “You hoo, I’m here.” (The tune sounds like a 2 tone doorbell – ding, dong, ding, dong.) Once the class knows the process, they can sing with the teacher to greet each child around the circle. (If you are uncomfortable singing, invite your music teacher or a musical guest to lead this greeting until the students know it, and then it won’t be you singing alone.)  In the case of the “You hoo” greeting, the pitches were the same, but the words were different.

Collaborate with your music teacher, and he or will give you ideas for good singing posture, tips for projecting voice, and how to match pitch and rhythm. You could change the rhythm one day, and the pitches another. You can also share some history of call and response in music, and branch out to other call and responses to welcome students. I’m looking forward to bringing bucket drumming into my morning meeting greetings. Stay tuned for future ideas!

Here are a few resources for these:

Tip: A colleague of mine recommended repeating the same greeting for a whole week, that way students get very comfortable with it and I don’t have to spend as much time explaining our greeting.

Integrating Dance

For these greetings, students are asked to create a movement to share. Prior to introducing them, share background information on the elements of dance and then incorporate them into the greeting somehow. Students may feel more comfortable moving in front of the class if they have to concentrate on creating a movement with a certain parameter based on an element. For example: “Create a movement that uses a slow action.”, or “Show a movement that demonstrates multiple levels.” or “All movements need to show energy.” Once the classroom climate is established, have some “freestyle” days. After the greeting is over, recap by asking students to point out an element of dance that they saw in action. (Find a great Elements of Dance poster here.)

“Match the pose” greeting: One at a time, students stand and say, “Hi, I’m _(name)__.” When the student says his or her name, they do a movement at the same time. The rest of the class responds with, “Good morning, _(name)__,” and mimics the motion. Variation: Have students go around the circle to say, “Good morning, _____,” and the person each student is greeting repeats the motion. This way it is not the whole class repeating the motion, it is just the neighbor with the other students tracking the greetings with their eyes. Or, a team leader can choose the “pose of the day”, and as students pass “good morning” around the circle, they each do the same pose instead of a handshake.

Hit the Floor Greeting – “1-2-3-4! Come on, __________, and hit the floor! We’re so glad you’re here today, Hooray, hooray, hooray!” Once a student’s name is called, he/she jumps out into the middle of the circle and dances during the end of the chant.

Next Up: Integrating the Arts with Morning Meeting Activities

Above, I shared a few ideas for incorporating music and dance into Morning Meeting greetings. Once you get started, and through collaboration with your specialists, you’ll find that the possibilities are endless. All morning meetings touch upon the ELA standards for speaking and listening. Greetings can be designed with the arts standards in mind. Regardless of subjects areas, the Morning Meeting’s purpose is to prepare students for the day. It helps them feel welcome, included, and equipped to focus their brainpower on learning throughout the remainder of the day.

Next month, I’ll share an article on quick ways to integrate the arts into the activities section of a morning meeting. Arts Integration Strategies are perfect for helping students get their brains engaged for deep learning while having fun and building community. Make sure to watch for it!

Timesaving Resources to help plan daily meetings: 

Here are two timesaving planning resources I have found useful. However, they don’t directly incorporate the arts. Both resources are editable to help you do it yourself!

How to Make Morning Meeting the Best Part of Your Day from Brooke Brown

A Year of Morning Meetings by Leanne Prince – Editable watercolor Google Slides for each day of the year. They follow the Morning Meeting format.

Have you implemented Morning Meetings? We’d love to hear how you are bringing the arts into your meeting time. Please share in the comments!

About the Author

Dyan is a third grade teacher in a public school district in Lancaster, PA and has over 16 years of classroom experience. With a Masters of Science Education and a passion for dance and music, she strives to integrate the arts into the curriculum whenever possible. Dyan has a background in teaching advanced learners, and is devoted to using project based learning to help her students achieve 21st century learning skills and master the PA Core Standards.