The morning message is a time for our class to think about what is going to be happening during the school day, to reflect on an important event from the day before, or to discuss a meaningful upcoming event. At the start of the school year, I model and write for the students. However, as the year progresses, the students begin to take more ownership of this time and write the message with me in a shared writing or interactive writing format.
Our message is very predictable and most students can quickly help say and/or write the first letters and high frequency or sight words such as 'is', 'the', and a student's name. Students get quite excited about being able to contribute!
An example of a morning message we may write on our dry erase board:
Today is (day of the week). The ABC helper is (student's name).
After agreeing upon what we should write, students help me say the whole message orally. Then I say the first word slowly (stressing especially the first letter early in the school year) and ask students to raise their hand if they know what letter 'Today" starts with. One child comes up and writes the first letter. As he/she gets ready to write, I ask the class or the child "Today – what letter do you think he/she is going to write? Will it be upper case or lowercase, etc." Often, the students also air write the letter as the one child is writing the same letter on the board. Depending on the time of the year, the abilities, and attention span of my students, I will either write the rest of the letters for the word "Today" or say the word again slowly and ask students what letters/sounds they hear next. If students do not hear the very next letter/sound, but hear a letter that is farther into the word, I will write the missing letters and then the letter that they state. The class reads what we have so far and then we repeat what we want our entire message to say. Then I stress the next word – most of my kindergartners can write this two letter word by the end of the first semester, so when I call on a student I let him/her write the entire word. We continue in this manner until the entire message is written. Then we reread the entire message. It is usually left on our board until students go home. During free choice time I've spotted a few of my kindergartners going back and trying to point and reread the message. Yes!
On days that I know I will be needing a substitute or on days when our scheduled activities will be tight, I write a message ahead of time for the students to read together and discuss. This message is written in letter format such as below...
Today is (day of the week). You will cook today.
Even though the message is already written on these days, students still have the opportunity to find letters and small words that they know.
By participating in the writing of our morning message, students learn...
Ways to Extend the Morning Message - Great ideas from the K Crew about their Buzz Book!
Getting the Most Out of Morning Message and Other Shared Writing Lessons by Carleen DaCruz Payne and Mary Browning Schulman (1998, Scholastic). ISBN 0-590-36516-9
Interactive Writing: How Language and Literacy Come Together by Andera McCarrier, Gay Su Pinnell, and Irene C. Fountas (2000, Heinemann). ISBN 0-325-00209-6
The Teacher's Guide to Building Blocks: A Developmentally Appropriate, Multilevel Framework for Kindergarten by Dorothy P. Hall and Elaine Williams (2000, Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company, Inc.). ISBN 0-88724-580-3