"Morning Message"
Why Do We Write A Morning Message?

By participating in the writing of our morning message, students learn...

writing is speech written down
proper letter formation
upper and lower case letter recognition
associating letters and sounds
left to right progression
differentiate between a letter, a word, and a sentence
reading of common sight words
spacing
punctuation
to look for patterns within words (word families)

Morning Message Formats
Chart Paper:

Black Marker and Yellow Marker
Red, Green, and Yellow Marker
Pointer
Make a road map for your message. This means that every word you write will have a yellow line under it indication the beginning and end of the word. You can either write the message ahead of time, or do it in front of the class. I do it both ways. I often omit letters, words, punctuation marks, and/or parts of words. Students fill in missing parts, locate star words (circling them in green), locate commas (highlight them in yellow), and stop sentences (circle sentence stoppers in red). We read the message, count the words, letters, sentences, and lines. I allow students to take the messages home and keep them. Your student of the day could be the one to take it home. I just draw a name from our name cup.

White Board:

Expo Markers (black, yellow, red, green)
Eraser
Can
Student Names on Popsicle Sticks
Pointer
Can be done similar to chart paper method. I vary the routine by picking student names out of a cup and having them come to the board and erase a word. Before they erase, they must read the word.

Overhead Transparency:

Overhead Projector
Transparency (programmed like primary writing paper - - with lines to write on)
Vis-A-Vis Markers (black, yellow, green, red)
Fly Swatter
Can
Student Names on Popsicle Sticks
Pointer
I write the message on the overhead ahead of time (in black). We read the message as a class using a pointer. We also count the letters, words, lines, and/or sentences. Students are selected to come up one at a time and swat a word they can read. They must read the word before swatting it. I let them give the word a good WHACK. They love to do that! We circle star words in green, highlight commas in yellow, and circle sentence stoppers in red.
Magnetic Board:

Magnetic Board (my red felt board is magnetic)
Magnetic Word Cards
Pointer
Can
Student Names on Popsicle Sticks
I determine the message ahead of time and select the necessary word cards from my index box and place the cards needed for the day's message in a special container. When the students come in, they choose 3-4 cards each. I verbally give the message and students construct the message using the cards they have. This is GREAT for listening skills!

Ideas for Facilitating Morning Messages
Say the words as you write, spelling each as you go.
How many words are in the first sentence? Circle and count the words.
How many letters are in the first sentence?" Circle and count the letters.
Talk about which sentence has more letters, and words.
Discuss how what you say, you can write
Observe where to start writing and which way the writing goes (left to right)
Observe where to begin the next sentence or line (top to bottom)
Practice saying the words, then saying each letter, one at a time, as it is written
Notice capital letters
Notice the use and function of punctuation
Count sentences
Count words in sentences
Count letters in words or sentences
Decide which of the sentences has more words/letters
Clap the sounds (syllables) you hear in words, like today (to-day)
Talk about how you start and end a message
Talk about the things that happen each day (notice patterns)
Talk about special events that happen to students in the class

After several weeks release responsibility to the students:

Can someone show me where I start my morning message?
What sound do you hear at the beginning of this word?
What letter do I write at the beginning of that word?
What do I put at the end of that sentence?
What do I put at the end of that question?
How do I show that we are excited about going?
How do I end my sentence?
Can anyone help me spell the word, 'love'?
Does anyone know what letter to begin 'Today' with?
Can you find a word you know and circle it?
Can you find a word that begins like Adam?
Can you find a word that rhymes with ______?

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Morning Message Links:
************************************************ http://www.thekcrew.net/buzzbook.html
The K Crew

Buzz Book
The Buzz Book is really interactive or shared writing.
We use it daily to introduce and reinforce:
*phonics
*language/sentence structure
*punctuation
*sight words
*story elements
*cueing sources

It is basically a "morning message" in which the students must respond in some way. Of course, writing is always part of the response!

The "buzz" comes from the "buzzing" students do with others.... sharing their ideas with a neighbor, before sharing with the group. This is great for 2 reasons:
*It allows everyone to share ideas... not just the students who get called.
*It gives children a "practice." They know what they will say when called on,
because they've already shared it with someone else.

Sometimes we graph
Sometimes we circle letters/words
Sometimes we share knowledge
Sometimes we match
Sometimes we write using sentence patterns
Sometimes we just write
Sometimes we brainstorm
Sometimes we rhyme
But we always WRITE!
You'll notice that the students will start to do more and more
of the writing themselves as the year progresses.

Here are some more Buzz Book topics:

*What did you eat for breakfast?
*How old are you?
*Will you stay home or go away for the holidays?
*Name some green things.
*What begins with T?
*Tell me a joke.
*Let's play hangman. (Use a student's name or sight word.)
*Tell me about the Pilgrims.
*Name something smelly.
*What can you see on a farm?
*Bears have....
*Let's write a story! (Teach story elements first.)
*Let's label the room.
*How do you make a sandwich?
*How do you get to the cafeteria? Give me the directions.
*Name something slippery.
*Name something sweet.
*If you had $100, what would you buy?
*Let's write! I am ____. I can _____. I see _____.
The ___ is ____. I like to _____. (Use sentence patterns.)

The possibilities are endless! Be creative and watch them write!

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http://www.pre-kpages.com/mornmessage.html
What is a Morning Message?

The Morning Message is an interactive method that introduces students to the writing process. There is much controversy about how the Morning Message should actually be done. My best advice is to look at your program; some teachers advocate the pre-written types of Morning Messages such as: "Dear Class: Today is Monday, May 26th, 2003" while others prefer a more interactive, hands-on type of message written with the children. Teachers in full-day Kindergarten may find that they have enough time to do both a pre-written Morning Message and a whole group shared writing message at another time during the day. However, since I am in a half-day program I prefer to write the message with the students. The Morning Message in my classroom is written with students as the teacher shares the pen or pencil, commonly referred to as "Shared Writing."

Why use a Morning Message in Pre-K?

When students actually see and hear an adult write they will begin to understand the connections between the written word and oral language more clearly. They are observing concepts about print first hand. When you write a Morning Message with your students you are helping them to become successful, independent writers by modeling the writing process for them. Even students who do not know how to read, write, or speak English at all will benefit immensely from the Morning Message. Some of the basic concepts you can cover in a Morning Message are:

Left to right progression of text.
Return sweep.
Print carries a message.
Punctuation, like period and question mark.
One to one correspondence.
Spaces between words.

When do you use the Morning Message?
To achieve the greatest success with the Morning Message it should be done on a daily basis.

What does your Morning Message look like in the beginning?
We have an easel in our circle area where our chart pad sits. The paper is unlined as it is not appropriate at this age level. On a shelf nearby the easel I have all the "tools" I may need; markers, pointers, pom-poms, Wikki Stix, microphones, magnifying glasses, and correction tape. The leader of the day comes to the front of the class and sits in my director's chair with a microphone. The first sentence of our Morning Message is always the same; "_______ is the leader today." This helps to make the message meaningful to the students because they can all identify their friend's name in the message. As I write the first sentence I spell aloud and use my fingers to make spaces between the words. When I come to the end of the sentence I place a period and say its name aloud. After a few days of the Morning Message in the beginning of the year everybody can "read" the first line successfully.

The second line of the message is an original sentence from the leader. In the beginning of the year we usually start with "I like" statements. For example;

Leyla is the leader today.
She said, "I like to eat pizza."

Because pizza is a popular food among the Pre-K crowd, the word will have more meaning to them and they will therefore be excited about being able identify it. When we are finished with the message we read it together as a class while I use a pointer, then the leader comes to the easel and "reads" the message using a pointer of his or her choice. After the message has been read we then move on to the various Morning Message games.

When do you share the pen?
For the first few weeks I am just trying to get the routine of the Morning Message going and to move it along as fast as I can since their attention spans are very short. Once we have the routine down I start inviting students to share the pen, I also start introducing letter sounds during this time. Here is an example:

"Leyla is the leader today. Hmm, I wonder what letter Leyla starts with? I hear a "l-l-l" sound, what letter makes that sound?"

Even if the students don't know their letter sounds some may know that Leya starts with the letter "L" so, they begin making the connection. I ask the children to raise their hand if they think they can help me write the first letter of Leyla's name. As the student holds the pen I will talk them through the letter formation.

"L is a straight line, start at the sky and go down to the ground, then over towards the door."

We repeat the pen sharing several more times during the creation of the Morning Message. If they become antsy, then you will know it's time to move on. If a mistake is made when a student is holding the pen the 2 inch correction tape takes care of it. I call it the "Magic Tape" and the kids love using it. If a child isn't able to write a letter independently or develops stage fright, then I will help by placing my hand over his or hers.

How do you keep the student's attention?
This is the question I am asked most often, and the answer is to keep it fun and interactive for the children. I have actually had students who cried if something kept us from writing the Morning Message. Some of the Morning Message tools I use are:

Wikki Stix: colorful waxed strings found in teacher stores for no more than a few dollars a pack.
Microphones: Cheap plastic microphones from the Dollar Store or Oriental Trading.
Magnifying Glasses: Also great Dollar Store finds, students use the magnifying glasses to help them find the mystery letter.
Large Correction Tape: 2 inches wide, it can be found in office supply stores.
Pointers: Make your own colorful pointers using decorative pencils and eraser toppers. The Dollar Store can also be a great place to find pointers.
Pompoms: I bought a dozen sets of colorful pompoms from Oriental Trading.
Glasses: I recently purchased a large bag of Harry Potter glasses from the Goodwill store for a dollar. We refer to these as "magic glasses" and the students can wear them when they search for specific letters.
Magic Wand: Another great dollar store find, our magic wand has a large star at the end and when you turn it on (it takes two AA batteries) and wave it, it makes a magical "turn the page" type of sound! A HUGE hit with the kids! We use the magic wand to "read" the morning message when we're finished writing.
Here are some simple ideas for spicing up your Morning Message time:

Mystery Letter or Word: I cut the Wikki Stix in half and bend them into circles. After we have finished writing the Morning Message I will select one letter for the students to search for in the Morning Message (aka The Mystery Letter). The Leader of the day will use the microphone to select a student to come up and search for the letter using the magnifying glass. When a letter is found, the student places the Wikki Stix circle around the letter. The number of helpers is determined by the number of mystery letters in the message. If it is the middle or end of the year and students are beginning to read or are just tired of the same old thing you can have them start searching for sight words.

Star Reader: We "read" the Morning Message together as a class after it is complete, using one of our cool pointers. The Leader of the day then "reads" the Morning Message using a pointer of his or her choice. We will then say "Hooray, hooray, hooray for Star Reading!" using our Pompoms, leader's choice of color. Depending on time, we may choose one or two other star readers.

Who Has This Letter?:
Using the Mystery Letter, let's say it's "L" again for example;
I will sing this song to the tune of If You're Happy and You Know It:

"If you have an L in your name please stand up.
If you have an L in your name please stand up.
If you have an L in your name,
An L in your name,
An L in your name please stand up."

I just made this up off the top of my head one day and it was a huge hit with the kids. They absolutely adore this song and it is also a great assessment tool to see who really knows the letters in their name. The leader then takes a pointer of his or her choice and counts how many people have that letter in their name.

Question of the Day: This one is time consuming to do with the entire class, but also a big hit. Using the microphone the leader will ask a "Question of the Day" to the entire class. He or she will ask the question into the microphone and then the microphone will be passed around the circle as the students answer. The question can be taken directly from the Morning Message. For example; "Leyla likes to eat pizza." the leader would ask student A, "Do you like to eat pizza?" and student A would answer "Yes, I like to eat pizza." or "No, I don't like pizza." Student A would then ask the entire question to student B who would also answer in a complete sentence. The key is to ask and answer in complete sentences as we are trying to promote oral language. This activity also teaches the students the difference between a question and a statement, a difficult concept for young children. Our question of the day morphed itself into individual polls being taken by students during center time when they chose to "Read and Write Around the Room."

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http://teachers.net/lessons/posts/2728.html

Language, level: Kindergarten
Posted Wed Nov 13 17:52:35 PST 2002 by Holly (Holly Brandt).
Travis Heights, Austin, TX
Materials Required: Chart Tablet
Activity Time: 10-15 minutes

Morning Message-approx. 10 minutes

Teacher to left of chart paper. Think out loud.
Dear Class,
Today is Monday.
It is a rainy day.
We will go to Art.
Let's have a great day!
Love,
Mrs. ________

Count the sentences. Record on chart.
Count the words in each sentence. Record on chart.
Which sentence has the most words?
Which sentence has the least words?
Which two sentences have the same number of words?
Count the letters in each sentence. Record on chart.
Which sentence has the most letters? Least? Same?
Can someone find some words they can read? (Circle)
Can someone find two words that begin with the same letter? (Underline)
Can someone find the word that rhymes with a word in our message?
Locate capital letters, punctuation, spacing.
Select a word and brainstorm other words that begin with the same letter.
Generate rhyming words that have same pattern as word in message.
Clap syllables of words.
Keep list of synonyms and use a new word each week.

Variation: Kindergarten News.
Today is Fun Friday.
Sean is going to a movie.
Ellis has a new puppy.

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http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/DeerParkES/TR/message/message.htm

Morning Message Teaching Techniques Used in Kindergarten/First Grade
Research by Erin Geddes and Mary Swearingen
Deer Park Elementary School
Rationale

As primary grade teachers, we were interested in what teaching techniques keep children engaged during morning message writing instruction. Due to the varying reading levels found in primary grades, teachers often have difficulty instructing and engaging the children during whole group morning messages. We wondered as teachers how we could reach each child's needs and enhance the level of excitement. Throughout the year we stretched ourselves as teachers to try new ideas and strategies. We were amazed by the response of the children to some of these strategies and the connections they made in their independent writing to what they had learned in the morning messages.

What Are The Reasons Behind Morning Messages?

Morning messages are a tool to help students with their reading and writing skills. They are used by teachers in many primary classrooms for the purpose of modeling and engaging the students in literacy activities. Morning messages "create a bridge to independent writing" (Payne & Schulman, 1998) and reach the variety of reading and writing levels in the classroom. Morning messages provide opportunities for more experienced writers to demonstrate writing and for other students to solely make connections between letter-sound relationships. Many teachers struggle with how to individualize their instruction and still keep all of the students engaged in the lesson. We will discuss, in this paper, various techniques we have used in the kindergarten and first grade classrooms to meet each student's needs and keep them actively involved.

What Do Morning Messages Look Like?

There are three main types of morning messages that we use in our classrooms: teacher directed, shared writing, and independent/student generated messages. Teacher directed messages are written by the teacher and used for the purpose of rereading together as a class. Teacher directed messages can involve the students in locating letters, sounds, words, and punctuation under the guidance of the teacher. Shared writing gives the opportunity for the "teacher to share the pen with the students." (Payne & Schulman, 1998). During shared writing messages, the students are more directly involved in the writing of the message with the teacher's assistance. Independent/student generated writing allows for the students to be more involved in the creation of the actual morning message. These three main styles of morning messages are appropriate for all developmental levels and can be integrated into all areas of the curriculum.

The Three Types of Morning Messages
Teacher Directed

In the beginning of the year in our classrooms we primarily use teacher directed morning messages. These messages are thought up and written by the teacher. In the beginning of the school year, this technique assists the kindergarten children in learning that their thoughts can be written down. The teacher writes what the children are not yet comfortable writing. Teacher directed messages assist both kindergarten and first grade children in learning the basic concepts of print such as: left-to-right, top-to-bottom, return sweep and spacing. Although the children are encouraged to use temporary spelling in their own daily writing, teachers model correct spelling every day through the morning message. Teachers can also introduce children to different genres of writing such as poems and letters. As children gain confidence and ability in their writing, the children become more involved and the teacher moves away from teacher directed messages.

We discovered that our children seemed less engaged and easily distracted during these types of morning messages. The higher and lower level readers tended to "tune out." When we observed the kindergartners using a participation checklist, we found that the participation level was low. Although these children seemed disinterested, we feel that these types of messages are an important tool in teaching reading and writing skills. We found that involving the students in some way during these messages helped the children to stay attended. We found that the following techniques helped to captivate the children's attention:


using wikki sticks for children to circle a letter or word
using puppets or stuffed animals to read the morning message
having the children use a locating device such as a fly swatter with the middle cut out to locate a letter or word
having the children use highlighting tape to highlight a letter or word
having children circle a letter or word with a marker
covering up an initial consonant sound with a sticky note and having the children guess the letter
having children clap words or do body movements for words

Shared Writing
As the year progresses and the children begin to develop stronger literacy skills, we move towards more shared writing experiences. The teacher takes a step back and allows the children to have more responsibility for the message. We are now "sharing the pen" with the students. When we observed the first grade students using a participation checklist, we found that all 24 of the children raised their hand at some point during the 10-15 lesson to participate. It appears that using various shared writing techniques engage and excite the children. We used the following shared writing activities in our classrooms:

A secret code message Children write in missing letters or words use a "secret code" for the children to figure out and fill in have the children come up and write in missing letters and words use mini dry erase boards for each child to write the missing letters and words have the children dictate to the teacher what to write

Independent / Student Generated Writing

In the second half of the school year, we provided more opportunities for the children to create their own morning messages. The ideas come from the students and not the teachers. One idea used in first grade was to choose two students each day to be the morning message writers. A high level writer was paired with a lower level writer. These students generated the ideas and wrote the morning message to be read to the whole class. It was obvious that the chosen writers and the rest of the class were very excited to act as teachers. This technique also enabled the first grade class to practice editing skills. Since the messages were student written, the temporary spelling was edited to show conventional spelling. The children were able to see the whole writing process in action.

It appears that the shared writing experiences provide a bridge into independent writing for the children. We noticed that the kindergarten students gravitated to the teacher's easel to write their own messages. They sat in a small group with one child acting as the teacher and mimicked what was previously instructed in a whole group. The first graders utilized the area of the classroom that was set up with an easel and large dry erase board. They began to write their own messages independently in this area and then branched out to writing at the overhead, on small dry erase boards and at the computer.

What Do the Children Like About Morning Messages?

We decided that the most effective way to assess the children's excitement regarding morning message instruction was to ask the children themselves. The kindergarten children were asked verbally what they liked about the morning message. All of the children unanimously responded by saying they liked writing on the mini dry erase boards. This showed that the kindergarten children preferred the shared writing experience the most. The first grade children were given a survey to ask their preferences. The answers showed that all of the children preferred a shared or independent writing experience of some sort. The children gave many varying responses to what kind of shared writing and independent writing choices they preferred. Some of their responses were:

"I like to go up and write."
"I like to fill in the missing words."
"I like to write my own morning message with little dry erase boards and paper."
"I like to use the big dry erase board."
"I like to fill in the words which helps you become a good writer."
"I like to write morning messages on the chalk board."

Through our formal and informal observations of our students we determined that all of the children preferred a morning message teaching technique that involved them in a more hands on manner. None of the children mentioned the teacher directed method of instruction as a method they preferred. We have decided that the teacher directed approach is important to use to teach the reading and writing fundamentals but a "child involved" approach engages the children more. We are trying to include a balance of all of these methods in our classrooms to enhance our instruction.

Extending the Morning Message
We found that by extending the morning message the children were motivated to reread over and over what they had written. At the kindergarten level, the children create a book about a particular person. During whole group time, one of the students is chosen to come up to the rocking chair. The children, with the guidance of the teacher, write several sentences about that child. The children then draw a picture of the child, write a sentence, and the pages are bound into a book for the child to take home. The children frequently choose to read these books independently.

In first grade the morning messages are extended by typing them on the computer and putting them in a binder for the children to illustrate and read. It is kept in the classroom and the children excitedly look for their message to reread daily with their friends. This appears to strengthen writing skills and it highly motivates the children to read what they have written. Both the kindergarten and first grade children are extending the morning message by making connections in their journal writing and while reading various texts. The children shared the following comments with the class:

"Look! There is an "ing" in "opening" on the schedule."
"The word today has the word "to" in it."
"Look! There is a "ch" in March."

Throughout our teaching this year, we have noticed that the children have grown in their writing. We are led to believe that the morning messages have contributed to this growth. We have stretched ourselves as teachers to try different teaching techniques in our morning message instruction.

Sources

DaCruz Payne, Carleen and Schulman, Mary Browning. (1998). Getting the Most Out of Morning Message and Other Shared Writing Lessons. New York, New York: Scholastic, Inc.

Schiffer Danoff, Valerie. (2001). Beyond Morning Message-Dozens of Dazzling Ideas for Interactive Letters to the Class That Enhance Shared Reading, Writing, Math, and More!. New York, New York: Scholastic, Inc.

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http://www.springfield.k12.il.us/resources/languagearts/readingwriting/morningmessage.htm

What is a Daily/Morning Message?

A morning message can be a variety of written documents. It is most often a text that a teacher writes to his/her students. Generally, it begins with a greeting and sometimes it is even signed by the teacher. These messages are written before the students arrive and are read by the whole class at the start of the day. Many morning messages contain an overview of the day's activities. Others are more like a letter written from the teacher to the students.

In this respect, a morning message is one form of a shared reading (a text that the teacher and students orally read together). In addition to the oral reading aspect of shared reading, there is often a follow-up lesson. These lessons are performance tasks for individual benchmarks. This is why you will see many morning messages that will have things circled or underlined or have text written after them. The lesson following the reading of the text is interactive. Many, if not all, students should have opportunities to work with the message.

Most "English" lessons, and many writing lessons, can be effectively taught in the context of shared reading. The following are examples at each grade level.

Read the examples for all grade levels to see the wide variety of ways to use a daily message.

KINDERGARTEN

Dear Kindergartners,

Yesterday was a happy day for me. My son came home from college, and we went out to dinner. Then we ate ice cream!

Benchmark: Use strategies of a reader
Body of Knowledge: Identify important information, discuss details
Houghton-Mifflin Tested Skill: Noting details

The teacher would invite the students to join her in the reading as they are able. The follow-up lesson might sound like this: "Class, how did you know that yesterday was a happy day for me? What things did I say that let you know I was happy?" The students would recall the details that support their answer. The teacher may underline these supports in the text. Adaptation: For older students who are also studying this benchmark, the text would be longer and more complex. Students may do the underlining of the supports instead of the teacher, or they may write one or two supports on white boards.

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Is it appropriate to make errors in a morning message and have the students correct those errors?

We want students to see the correct form more often than the incorrect form. When the message is written correctly, students are simply searching for the correct use of punctuation, or the correct verb tense, for instance. It can be appropriate to make errors on occasion&emdash;particularly as a test preparation skill. Consider choosing one type of error, so the students have multiple opportunities to practice correcting this type of error. When we make a wide variety of errors, students tend to have a more difficult time learning any of the errors. Is there a method I might use when constructing messages from day to day?

Be systematic in your approach. Stick with one benchmark until you feel the students are getting it. Maybe one day out of five will be a day the students will make corrections regarding that benchmark. Later, review some of the previously studied benchmarks. Most of all, strive to keep it authentic and fun for the kids and as interactive as possible. Remember, that the morning message is first about reading, not just about skill practice.

Are there other types of Morning Messages besides using it as a shared reading?

Yes. Sometimes the class composes an afternoon message together reflecting on the day's lessons and the new learning. This is then called a "shared writing." Other types of shared writings involve a specific benchmark. Students may be asked a question or given a task that they will complete together.

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Examples of morning messages that become shared writings:

Good morning,
We have learned many things that good readers do. What do you do when you get stuck on a word?

Hello class,
We have been reading the writing of many great authors. Think about the books you love most. What did the author(s) do that made it great writing?

Good morning students,
We have been learning about rocks in science. Let's make a list of important words that a geologist would need to know.

Greetings class,
We have learned many things that good readers do. What do you do when you have difficulty understanding what you read?

Welcome back,
Today we will be talking about using word wall words. See how many word wall words you spy in your reading and writing today. We will share these later today.

*Note: Poetry is only one type of text to borrow from. Try using a portion of your social studies text, for example.

Good morning class,
Today we will be talking about rhyming words. Can you help me fill in the rhyming words for this poem?

Sunning
Old dog lay in the summer sun
Much too lazy to rise and _____.
He flapped an ear
At a buzzing fly.
He winked a half opened
Sleepy _______.
He scratched himself
On an itching spot,
As he dozed on the porch
Where the sun was ______.
He whimpered a bit
From force of habit
While he eagerly dreamed
Of chasing a _______.
But Old Dog happily lay in the sun
Much too lazy to rise and _____.

~James S. Tippett~

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http://www.hubbardscupboard.org/morning_message.html

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). or Today is (day of the week). We will go to the zoo tomorrow.

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.

Dear Class,
Today is (day of the week). You will cook today. Have fun!

Love,
Mrs. Hubbard

Even though the message is already written on these days, students still have the opportunity to find letters and small words that they know.

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Why Do We Write A Morning Message?

By participating in the writing of our morning message, students learn:

writing is speech written down
proper letter formation
upper and lower case letter recognition
associating letters and sounds
left to right progression
differentiate between a letter, a word, and a sentence
reading of common sight words
spacing
punctuation
to look for patterns within words (word families)
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Suggested Resources
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

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