The morning message, a short message displayed in the classroom, is the perfect way to weave reading, writing, and word study into a daily lesson. It is an important component of a balanced literacy program. I introduce and reinforce many of our reading, writing, and spelling standards in the note. However, the message needs to be planned in order to be effective. So let’s get started!
You can use large, lined chart paper or an interactive whiteboard to display the morning message. Items to use as pointers are also needed.
A ruler works, but you might find special magic wands are motivating and increase student interest, too. The children love to use a new pointer! When writing on chart paper, keep a container of colored markers nearby.
The content and length of the message change as the year progresses. During the first weeks of school, I focus on the following: concepts of print, sight words, initial/ending consonants, and students’ names. I model concepts of print by showing that we read from left to right, top to bottom. We point to each word for one-to-one match. Each week I select five sight words for the students to learn, read, and write. I include these words in the message during the week. These sight words are also added to our word wall.
Through your assessments of the students, you will learn what they know about how words work. I review consonants and introduce rhyming word families. I use a different child’s name each day. The students’ names are put on the word wall, too. I plan and write the message before I leave school each day. Topics for the message include classroom events, daily activities, and concepts for review. Make sure you print neatly so that it can easily be read.
Here’s a typical first grade morning message:
Good morning, girls and boys!
Breanna will be my helper today.
You will have art with Mrs. James.
I read the message by myself and model one-to-one matching. Next the students read with me as I point. Lastly, I point, and they read independently. I call on students to come up and circle our sight words. In the example below, the sight words are "my," "will," and "have." We then circle some initial and final consonants. Sometimes I ask a student to come up and point to the words as we reread a sentence. I may have to guide their hand as they point, if they have not mastered one-to-one matching.
I continue to use the same sight words in each message for the week. I begin to leave out initial and ending consonants, blends/diagraphs, and word parts for the students to complete. We continue to circle initial and final letters and sounds, sight words, and even punctuation marks. Remember to leave the message out for the students to reread!
Observation is the key to changing the skills you are focusing on in your message. I focus on a skill until I see that the majority of the children have grasped the concept.
Look at students' independent writing:
As the year progresses, I write longer messages that consist of six or seven sentences. Students start to see new language arts concepts appear, such as contractions and compound words, and I also make sure to integrate material from our math, science, and social studies lessons. If students struggle with a word during our meeting, I model reading strategies we can use to decode it. By the end of the year, I share the pen with students, and we write sentences together.
For other helpful morning message resources, see these book from Scholastic: