Ah, morning work. When I was in school, that wasn’t a thing. At least not in my school. We came in and the teacher collected lunch money while we unpacked, sharpened pencils, talked about the Rugrats episode we watched last night etc, etc and then eventually the Pledge of Allegiance would come over the loud speaker, we’d all stand, and then when it was over, we’d dive into our work for the day. But typically, a few kids were still talking, not everyone was unpacked, and someone (or many someones) would inevitably end up with bench time before we were all settled and ready to learn.
My first year of teaching, I didn’t always use morning work. Sometimes I’d have a do now, sometimes I wouldn’t. I was a bit unorganized and overwhelmed. (I know, a first year teacher who’s unorganized and overwhelmed? Shocker! 😉 )
When I went into year two, I was much more organized, and was much better about always having some kind of morning work for my students, but it wasn’t always consistent. They’d often have a lot of questions, even far into the year, and it wasn’t doing it’s job.
What exactly did I want my morning work to do? It’s simple, really. I wanted my morning work routine to
1. Review important skills.
2. Be easy enough so my students could do it completely on their own.
3. Be challenging enough that it took more than 2 minutes (but not so challenging that it took 30 min).
4. Keep my kiddos busy while I did all of the morning duties.
That way, when it was time to begin our day, we could really dig in right away.
My 3rd full year of teaching, I was in a new school teaching second grade. That year, before school started, I really thought long and hard about what I wanted my morning work to be like. What I came up with saved my sanity every single morning, and the other teachers in my grade began to use it as well.
It was fabulous because students knew what to do every. single. day. Each day followed the same format, so after I taught them how it worked, we were set for the year.
After completing the pledge every day, we’d quickly go over the answers, so students knew, if they were stuck, they could just move on and we’d review it together before morning work time was over.
It also gave me a glimpse at the skills that students needed a little extra work on, and helped to guide my guided reading and math time.
And then when I moved back to first grade the next year, I created a first grade version, which again, saved my sanity big time.
I am a firm believer in using morning work to help students get into a “school frame of mind”. It also was a great way for students to collaborate. I often would hear students asking each other for help from each other, which I loved.
Do you use morning work? What have you found successful?