This week, we are adding a section to Morning Meeting dedicated to practicing active listening and developing empathy and interest in one another.
Back when I was teaching fifth grade, I added a slide into the Morning Meeting Keynote with a "chant" about beginning to develop interest and empathy in the daily lives of our classmates. We would tap our legs to a beat and then say this simple chant:
I realize that the chant doesn't necessarily define empathy, but it does touch on the idea of trying to listen to what a classmate says and share in the emotions that the speaker may be feeling.
The job of the speaker was to share a short (one sentence) main idea about something happening in her life. She was to leave out any specific details so that there was room for inquiry by classmates. Then, the listeners would ask follow-up questions that pertained to the main idea shared. The speaker would then respond in kind and an on-topic, caring conversation would continue between speaker and listeners.
An issue that I often notice when listening to my third through fifth graders converse has been that little follow-up happens between listener and speaker. What I mean is that typically the speaker shares something about herself and then the listener shares something about himself back. While this is appropriate and does constitute conversation, it in some ways stunts the conversation rather than develops it. For example, take this conversation I heard between two of my fifth graders:
Speaker: We're having a party for my birthday this weekend!
Listener: My birthday is next month and I can't wait!
While the kids didn't find anything "wrong" with this conversation (because it isn't wrong), I wanted them to see that there was a missed opportunity here: to develop the conversation further by validating the speaker's thoughts. In my opinion, these two students were doing a bit more talking "at" each other rather than talking "with" each other. Through the Empathy and Active Listening portion of Morning Meeting, my fifth graders and I worked together on developing the conversation so that, in the end, it went like this:
Speaker: We're having a party for my birthday this weekend!
Listener: Oh, it's your birthday? Happy birthday! What are you going to do?
Speaker: I'm going to Jump America on Friday.
Listener: Are you going with your family?
Speaker: Yeah, my cousins and my aunt and uncle are coming with me and my brother.
Listener: That sounds like fun.
Speaker: I am so excited!
The fifth graders and I agreed that this conversation was much more developed and kept the focus on the speaker, whose feelings were validated and heard. The conversation from there actually went on to the listener explaining the fun that he wanted to have for his own birthday, so he did get his thoughts in, too--but at the right time.
Here is the slide that shows the roles of the speaker and listener during this portion of Morning Meeting, as well as two short examples of what students might share:
We will be practicing keeping the focus on what the speaker shares, trying hard not to immediately direct the conversation back to experiences the listener has had. Instead, listeners are to show that the attention is on the speaker and that what she is sharing is important and her feelings are valid.
The goal is to help students see that they can take the time and effort to listen to one another and maybe hear about their classmates' lives and thoughts to get to understand them a little better--and maybe make some more friendships in the process. Typically, my fifth grade students enjoyed this portion of Morning Meeting, so I am very eager to try it out with the third graders.
I will check back in here to relay how this "new" concept goes during our Morning Meetings this week!
I was going to start by explaining some of the practical changes I've been enjoying in my Morning Meeting, but why not start with the coolest part instead??
The excitement has started all thanks to what I'm calling the "30 second field trips" I added to the end of my Morning Meeting presentations. If you don't already know this, Nearpod allows you to place a "field trip" into your presentation using 360 imaging. It was really awesome when we finished early one day and I told kids to enjoy the 30 second field trip, and I advanced to that slide--and everyone cheered, stood up, and started walking around the room while looking at their iPads--they found themselves under the sea, "swimming" next to a deep sea diver for just a short while. They were so excited; I'm not sure I've ever heard so many "whoas" and "awesomes" during a Morning Meeting before.
Next week, we'll be headed to Santorini. :) Here is a glimpse:
So that was exciting and I had to share! Now on to the nitty gritty stuff :)
I am happy to report that many of the hopes I shared regarding participation during Morning Meeting came to fruition. The first change I talked about during a previous post was uploading all of the Morning Meeting Keynote slides as well as the Focus Topic slides onto Nearpod. Now, when I go from slide to slide on my projector, students can follow along without anyone needing to turn and face the board. This has been a time saver and I know the kids with backs to the board seemed to appreciate it!
I added quizzes after the Self-Reflection and Sharing slides. The Morning Meeting student leader reads the prompt and then I change to the quiz slide to give students a chance to think about their answer and they select which option best describes their self-reflection or their "share" for the day. This way, all students have an answer ready when it is their turn. I duplicated the prompt slide and have it pasted before and after the quiz so that in case someone still needs to read the prompt, it is still visible even though the quiz is done.
You can see the layout in edit mode here:
For the Gratitude Circle, I had to make a few tweaks. We did a test run of it on Thursday (usually Gratitude Circle is only on Fridays). Originally, I had a Padlet wall link after the gratitude prompt slide so that kids could go straight to Padlet and add their grateful statement. However, with so many kids trying to type on Padlet at the same time, the screen kept "jumping" so that they could not find their own posts as they were typing, and many students had to start over...it was not the best way to get their answers down. So, later I went back in and removed the Padlet link and instead put an open-ended response Nearpod slide and that did the trick. On Friday, it was a seamless transition to the Gratitude Circle as kids typed and then shared their responses verbally, too. The cool part was that their responses were popping up on the projector after they would type, so even though their work disappeared on their own screens, they were still able to refer to the board if they needed to look at what they wrote while they verbally shared. So that worked well.
Here is the layout for this part:
Probably the most meaningful change made to Morning Meeting was regarding the Poem of the Week: Now that the poem is literally in everyone's hands, it has been so neat to see every kid actually reading the poem without me feeling like I am pulling teeth to get the last few participating! Here is the slide I show them before projecting the poem:
I know, this doesn't look like much...but such a simple tweak has caused a big change in how kids approach the Poem of the Week. I have never had them do a turn-and-read, but they enjoyed it. By day 4, it was also great to be able to get up during the meeting and move to read to someone else, and then come back to their spots so we could move on. It made for a nice change. They have really been doing a nice job being on task, too...which is wonderful.
So glad I tried this!
Today the Genius Hour and Passion Project concept was introduced. I showed each Guided Group the introductory iMovie and then we took time to brainstorm in those small groups about our interests, passions, and "heartbreaks" about the world. Kids wrote mainly one word topics, such as "cars," "racing," "coding," "earthquakes," etc.
One student asked if they could write down something "dangerous," so when I asked what he meant, he said, "I want to learn about teslas." I said, "The cars?" and he said, "No, the tesla electricity." I have no idea what made him think of this, but it was cool to see those ideas flowing! He spent the rest of the morning telling me his thoughts about tesla units and his wonderings about Tesla himself! Already Genius Hour had the questions coming!
Anyway, I was really pleased to see how many ideas kids came up with!
Our Wonder Wall was almost completely full by the end of the morning...but I told the kids not to worry since I had also made a virtual Wonder Wall, too, just in case we needed more room. :) They were excited about this.
So, later in the day, we met as a whole class and looked at the Padlet wall together. I read through my example posts so they could see that now we were not simply writing a one-word topic, but both a topic and a "wondering" about it (possibly phrased as a question). We also started leaving helpful comments for one another if something someone said sparked any similar (or tangent) ideas.
Overall, I was very excited and the kids seemed to be, too! Probably the coolest part was checking the Padlet "Wonder Wall" page about a half hour ago and seeing that some of the kids came home and added more wonderings and comments to each others' posts from home! So neat to see them thinking about it and contributing even when school is over for the day. Hooray! I had to get in there and join in on the commenting, too. :)
So, day 1 was a success...hope tomorrow is, too.
Yesterday I finished updating a Genius Hour Keynote and iMovie "Introduction to Genius Hour" video to be shared with my class this week. For this year's Genius Hour and Passion Projects, I added a virtual "Wonder Wall" component using Padlet so that I could post some example "wonderings" and resources to generate interest, and then students can add to the virtual Wonder Wall as they come up with ideas. This way, parents can also view the virtual Wonder Wall from home.
Also new this year, I am planning to introduce the Genius Hour/Passion Project during Guided Groups rather than whole class. Last year it was fun beginning a project all together as a whole class, but I did things differently--instead of letting them all pick their own project topics, we brainstormed together all about the Rainforest, then they chose from there. Since this time I want to give them free rein to choose whatever topic they want (not just limited to the Rainforest), I am going to introduce it in small groups and really talk to kids more personally about what interests them, what is close to their hearts, etc. This year's class gets very passionate about topics when we discuss in small groups, so I think this will work out well for them.
I will post at a later date how everything went with the introduction.
In my previous blog post, I wrote about my desire to revamp my Morning Meeting routine so that it was more engaging and encouraged more participation among my third grade students. I love Morning Meeting and didn't want to make any big changes to the activities themselves, but I did want to figure out a way to use the technology we are so lucky to have to enrich our daily discussions.
What I decided to do (first trial here) is create a Nearpod that contains all of my already-made Morning Meeting presentation slides but with technological participation opportunities embedded into it. I have a feeling it may take up more time than I have allotted for the period, but I'm going to give it a try and make changes from there.
Here are the additions I have made:
1. For both the Self-Reflection and Sharing activities, students will now use Nearpod multiple choice quizzes to select their responses from a list of options. When the "quizzes" are done, students will take turns asking each other questions about their responses to practice Speaking and Active Listening skills we have learned, and then do a self-reflection survey using a Nearpod Poll to evaluate how they think they did today.
2. For the Gratitude Circle activity, students will use Padlet to post what they are grateful for, and they will be able to comment on each others' posts as well. I am planning on having students choose either their own or classmates' responses to read aloud if they would like to share verbally, too.
I am planning on having students read the Poem of the Week aloud chorally as we usually do, but am considering having them do the practice reads later in the week by turning to a neighbor or finding a friend to read to...this idea isn't fully formed yet so I need to think about it some more.
I also need to think more about how to engage students during the Focus Topic portion, which is really the most important part of the Morning Meeting.
I will think about it and return later! :)
Morning Meeting is something really important in my classroom. It is a set-aside time when my students are able to reflect on behavioral goals, discuss social-emotional topics, and learn strategies for coping with situations or behaviors that they may experience in our classroom and school. Brief academic topics are also practiced. When I taught fifth grade, Morning Meeting flowed very smoothly, with students leading it and remaining engaged. Since switching to third grade, I've had to make some changes to accommodate the younger group.
In our Morning Meeting, the format is as follows:
I am currently in the process of trying to revamp my Morning Meeting time so that I can ensure that more students are mentally engaged in the process, especially since such important Focus Topics are covered. As it stands, technology is only used on the teacher end for display purposes on the interactive whiteboard. Kids take turns participating and for most of the academic pieces, students are called on strictly on a volunteer basis.
I would like to incorporate technology into the Morning Meeting time in hopes of engaging students who are either too shy to volunteer to the big group or who--let's be honest--have tuned out what is going on around them. I am thinking about using some kind of backchannel to engage these students so that their voices are heard and they can take ownership in these important lessons we are covering. We are a 1:1 iPad district so this option would be viable.
Some of my thoughts/concerns:
This week, I will be looking into how I may be able to make some small changes to Morning Meeting using Google Forms, Nearpod, Padlet, and other options. More to come!