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Differentiated Morning Work

One of the most common questions I get is how I do classroom management and what my secret is to keep my kids so well managed!  My classroom is real and my kids are real and we have the same struggles and successes as everyone else so we’re always working on classroom management!

Of course procedures, procedures, procedures, and more procedures is a major factor, but I also want to share one of the biggest keys to successful classroom management in my classroom.  I honestly think this plays a significant role in my success with management.  What is my secret?  The answer is…..morning journals which are used for morning work!   Here’s how we do it and what makes it such a vital piece of my management system.

Morning Work=Morning Journals

Our morning work is our morning journals.  Every day.  It’s the exact same activity and the exact same procedures and expectations.  And that is the key.  When the kids arrive, they know what to do, they know what to expect and they do it.  They aren’t struggling with some new worksheet or packet.  And they don’t have to get up and ask questions or come to me for help.  The students can arrive in a calm manner and be successful immediately.  They start off their day calm and successful and that sets the positive tone for the day.  The consistency and successful start to each day.
When the kids arrive, they put their backpacks away and change into their slippers.  Then they greet me.  If they choose to eat breakfast they grab breakfast and chow down.  If they skip breakfast they grab their journals and find a spot on the floor to work!

Differentiated Morning Work

 Our morning work is differentiated to meet the needs of all the students!  Here’s how:
For students who are still working on mastering writing their names, they have name-writing practice to work on.  Some students are still just tracing their names and some are doing a combination of tracing and writing.  This differentiation allows scaffolding as the students move toward mastery.
As you can see, some students might be tracing her name.  Some students are tracing and writing their names.  Their morning work is meeting their individual needs and allowing them to be successful!  And it’s consistent.  They are working on their name every morning.  No surprises when they arrive!   We start with regular pencils and as needed we also use golf pencils!

Morning Journals

Once the kids master their name writing, they earn their morning journal.  Our mourning journals are just spiral notebooks (or composition notebooks).   When they first earn their journal, they simply write their name, and the date,  and draw a picture.  Every morning.  Same expectation and procedure.  Success!
To teach them the procedures, we use a highlighter to write their name and date for two days.  After that, they do the name and date on their own.
The binder clip is used so students know what page to be on!
When they are ready,  I ask them to label one or two things in their pictures with a word.  As they label more and more, they are required to start writing a sentence.  As the year progresses they might move to 2 sentences if they’re ready.
The bonus to this system is that it’s teacher friendly.  No copies, no packets to assemble or papers to grade!
After they finish their journal they can read or do morning bins.  So how do we keep them from rushing through the journal?  They have to show me their journal so I see their work.  I can see if they put in the effort or just scribbled through it!  If they need to work a little more, I have them go back and do some more.  We’re always striving to do our best!

Here is a video of me explaining our morning work or morning journals!

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