Starting this month, I'm inviting parents to join us for MM any day they'd like whenever they like. I pointed out that they are not there to observe, but rather participate along with us. That means joining in our greeting, sharing period, activity (oh, so much fun!!) and our daily message.
As a parent, I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall and see my kids' MM time. I think it's insightful for the parents and FUN for all. Besides a quick wave hello and a hug good-bye, the parent is just one of the group...no special perks to the family or anything. It's business as usual when they are present. They come in at 8:30 and leave at 8:50 sharp. (RC wants a 30 minute MM but our district says 20. I have to say, I start off at 20 in the beginning of the year and taper down to about 15 minutes for the last two months of school. Don't get me wrong, I could seriously do 30 minutes a day because while we do an activity (game, dance, or such) I still just have to sing! So, we do sing a song (or three!) almost every day. There's just something about kids singing that makes my heart sing!
What goes in that 15-20 minutes is amazing and sometimes I think I teach a whole's day worth of lessons in that time frame! The time flies by and we move immediately into writing workshop each day.
I've always infused lessons/reviews into my message BUT, from what I was taught and read, the Responsive Classroom really doesn't want you to do that. (EDITED TO ADD: my district frowned upon this but had a change of heart last year.) But a teacher's gotta do what she's gotta do, right? Here was my message for today:
I usually have a question on the bottom that they have to answer or a Do Now like the one above. They do this DO-NOW as soon as they arrive and unpack each day. (EDITED TO ADD: All of my Do-Nows are now Open-Ended Format Journal Responses. So. Much. Deeper! Before reading the message together at MM, we use swatters to "Whack a Word." I draw names out of a jar and that child gets to come up, say a word, and whack it. After we have lots of whackers (and I do allow for kids to repeat words. That in itself is telling!) we read the message together. Sometimes I'll ask if anyone wants to read it to us. Yesterday, one of my struggling readers read the above to us by herself! Sniff, sniff! After reading, I simply ask the kids if anyone has a compliment for me (since I've been working SO hard on my friendly letter format!) or if they want to tell me something they've noticed. I'm always amazed what they come up with! Sometimes they point out that I didn't spell a word right and you know what? That's never on purpose! It happens, right?
In this letter, some kids commented on:
*Rhyming words/silly words
*Contraction Let's (quick mini-lesson)
*The word TO being a "no excuse word" and the child who said it is one who struggles with sight words...I was thrilled!
*I remembered the date! (Yea, me!)
Someone noticed some short a words
*That the "ir" in First sounds like the -er sound
A Chunky Monkey pointed out that EAR is part of Dear, etc.
But my favorite comment today was this:
You made a funny smiley to entertain us. As a writer, you have to make it fun for your reader.
How can I not seize the moment with my kiddos? It's a quick activity but so valuable on so many levels! Then one child gets to take the message home. I pick a stick from the jar UNLESS it's your birthday. The birthday king or queen ALWAYS gets the message.
I know everyone reading this probably does a MM and a message. It's nothing new. I just wanted to share an example of mine with all of you!