Post Promise: Today, I’m going to share with you a fantastic strategy that you can incorporate into your daily routine to practice literacy skills in an engaging way. Meet the morning message and three reasons you need to try it!
Hey there, you awesome primary teacher! I’m so excited to share this week’s topic. The morning message is a great way to get your students’ attention from the beginning of the day, and it’s a versatile way to work on any reading skill.
If you’d like to hear the podcast version of this post (I had the pleasure of interviewing Mrs. Janet Grigsby, who is passionate about learners and the morning message) you can check out Episode 11 of the Primary Teacher Friends Podcast HERE.
What’s the morning message all about?
So what is a morning message? Mrs. Grigsby says, “A morning message is a letter written in a friendly letter format that the teacher writes to her students.” The message can say anything the teacher wants her students to know.
I love how Mrs. Grigsby put it: “The morning message is like this little bit of magic that lures even the most reluctant student.” Do you remember how exciting it used to be to get a letter in the mail? Back before all the mail was either bills or junk! This is a chance to let our learners have the same experience.
Students will love having this special letter written by you to them every day. I recommend handwriting it on chart paper big enough for all the students to read it. In my experience, it’s much more exciting for students than if you project a typed letter. If you make this a routine, they will look forward to it. Mrs. Grigsby says that this is one time she doesn’t have to encourage students to read – they WANT to find out what’s in their letter!
Now, why is morning message worth the time and effort? Because let’s be honest, it does take both. I promise you, it’s well worth it. Here’s why!
1. Morning Message is… Engaging!
Engagement is good during morning message because it’s relevant to the students, and they’re eager to find out what is in it. It helps to make a connection with students because you took the time to write them a personal message. They know you took time to learn about their lives and you can share about your life. It’s a great chance to bring content and connection together. We know our days in the classroom are so busy it’s hard to make this happen.
As I already mentioned, having the message handwritten is important. Typing it out isn’t much different than having students read from a textbook or worksheet. The morning message can be colorful and have a little artwork, and it’s more special. There is a little preparation time involved, but it gets quicker the more you do it and it’s so worth it.
Mrs. Grigsby shared that in her classroom, she would have the morning message ready as students came in. Once they put their belongings away, they would go to the morning message and read it. Students would stand near it and mouth words to themselves, hold their fingers up and point their way along the words, and help each other out when a friend was stuck on a word. How many other parts of the day hold students’ attention like that?
2. Morning Message Can… Incorporate Skills and Content!
Any reading skill can be taught from prereading to phonics to topic sentence. You don’t have to plan to include things like finding adjectives and verbs. They’re naturally there, and you can pick what you want to discuss that day.
You can use topics relevant to your current teaching, and you can even introduce new content through morning message. It shouldn’t have a lot of content, but you can use new vocabulary with a story and build background for something later in the day. The students don’t need to know that you set them up for that, and they have confidence because they were able to apply their brand new knowledge.
One example Mrs. Grigsby gave is if you’re planning to read a Curious George book to the class that day, you could introduce the word “curious” in the morning message. Maybe you could write about how you were curious about something and tell that story. While you’re talking with your students about the message, you can explain what that word means. Then later when you start to read the Curious George book, your students know that word! They feel confidence because they knew something and were successful.
The morning message can be adapted for all primary grades. For kindergarten, the letter, words, and sentences are all shorter. As the grade level increases the letter length becomes longer and the skills you use can progress with your students’ knowledge.
3. Moring Message Allows… Differentiation!
A lot of what you do during the morning message is related to what questions you ask. Make sure that you don’t ask questions that are too difficult for your students. You want to set your students up for success, so you can match the questions to the students’ ability.
One way to do this is ask a student to circle anything they know. This could be a letter, a word, or a whole sentence. It could even be something they just learned from another student. You could relate skills like one student showing what the letter A is and another pointing out a word with the short “A” sound. This is such a great opportunity to boost students’ confidence in learning to read.
Also, it can be used as a quick assessment strategy for students’ current learning level and abilities. If a student chooses to read a whole line you get an idea that their reading abilities are progressing. If a student circles a picture, then that suggests they aren’t as far along in learning to read.
This is a prime opportunity to use scaffolding. You want your students to be successful, so you might start off every message with, “Dear boys and girls.” They remember what the greeting says and are successful because they know that. Then you can switch to “girls and boys,” and then they are challenged to see which way you wrote it. We want to give students just enough to get them to the next level.
Ready for more?
Great, because I have more! Mrs. Grigsby and I have put together a FREE Teacher’s Guide to Morning Message Success. In it you’ll find everything you need to implement this strategy. It includes even more benefits (in case you’re not convinced yet!), suggestions for activities to use during morning message reading, ways to spice it up, and a list of do’s and don’ts to make sure you get started on the right track. Don’t miss this handy resource to make your morning messages a classroom favorite!
Have you checked out the post about strategies to boost sight word engagement? While we’re thinking about literacy, this is a great place for some more inspiration. Plus, there’s a free sight-word engagement guide you can grab. It’s right over HERE.
If you like fresh ideas and sharing enthusiasm for our little learners, the Primary Teacher Friends Facebook group is for you! Head over HERE to join. Your people are waiting! 🙂
Go make a difference, teacher friend!