Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: Community Meeting: The Design {Series Post #2}
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Community Meeting: The Design {Series Post #2}

Other Posts in this Series:
Introduction to the Series
Series Post # 1: Why I Devote Time to Community Meetings
Series Post # 2: The Design: An Overview
Series Post # 3: Why a Theme-Based Community Meeting?
Series Post # 4: Community Meeting: Materials and Resources
Series Post # 5: Launching Community Meeting at the BOY
Series Post # 6: Day by Day in the Community Meeting
Series Post # 7: Scheduling the Community Meeting
Series Post # 8: I Still Can't Fit it all In

I believe that each and every classroom meeting program can look different. If you choose to implement one this year, I encourage you to allow yourself the freedom to discover what works for you and your classroom. My classroom meeting has shaped itself over the years and yours will too. I am currently using a theme-based, literature-focused classroom meeting that incorporates literature, journaling, and reflection and I couldn’t be happier with how students respond to this classroom routine.

After implementing a very loose version of the Responsive Classroom’s Morning Meeting routine for a few years, I began envisioning a way that my students and I could get more out of those daily 15-25 minutes together. I knew that as I read aloud community-building books and shared short, inspiring videos with my students throughout the year, common themes (lessons and messages) kept popping up. I realized that my morning meeting could be based on these important themes that I have always found myself discussing with students! I could also “kill two birds with one stone” by using my community meetings in a way that would complement my literacy instruction.

As I kept processing this idea, I brainstormed a wish-list of all the themes I’d like to discuss with my students. Rather than have a seemingly random sequence of discussions planned for morning meeting, themes in literature could be the foundation upon which our morning meetings were built day in and day out!

The first year that I implemented my ideas for a theme-based morning meeting, I put things together piecemeal before the start of each themed-unit. Sometimes I was even searching for a good video 5 minutes before my students entered the classroom. I really wanted to have journal pages ready to-go, but often students responded to open ended prompts and just jotted things in their composition notebooks. I loved morning meeting, but it just wasn't something that I had a lot of prep time to work on. Finally, I sat down and made myself put together a cohesive plan for each theme. The bulletin boards and journal pages grew from this. Not only did I make the materials I needed for the classroom, but I also compiled related picturebooks, wrote key questions, and looked for extension opportunities include music and videos.

The components of my community meeting include:
To implement my theme-based morning meeting lessons, I pulled together quotations and related vocabulary words and created bulletin board materials to help me display each theme. My main themes:


Theme Coverpages: Students receive theme cover pages on the first or second day of each theme. The coverpages include the theme title, related quotations, and the related vocabulary with definitions. This is the perfect reference for students as we have discussions and they complete written reflections. Students often refer to the vocabulary to help them use appropriate language. Learning new vocabulary? I like it!
Self Reflections: It's important for students to complete a self-reflection at the launch of a new theme. They also use their reflection to set a personal goal related to the theme. For example, during our belonging unit, students could make a goal to reach out to a new person each day.
Discussion Page: Then, I created a variety of student journal pages that allow for personal reflection, written response to discussion questions, brainstorming and problem-solving. I created a discussion prompt journal page because I'm a firm believe in having students jot down ideas before I begin a whole group discussion. I like to hold everyone accountable for thinking and it's a great way to ensure that each and every child could contribute something to the conversation because they have a heads up about the questions I will be asking during the discussion. I often turn these journal pages into anchor charts that we can refer back to at anytime.
I incorporated bubble-maps, comparison charts, lists, and other graphic organizers. I created extension activities for each theme. Sometimes students generate synonyms on a bubble map (like for kindness), make lists, or create illustrations. Some of the journal pages go along with a specific book we read during the theme or a song or video that I show them from youtube.
Teacher Resource Ideas: I compiled lists of picturebooks, key questions, related videos, songs, and other teaching ideas into teacher resource pages. These plans have been a lifesaver for me as I strive to implement good-quality, theme-based morning meeting, I have what I need at my finger tips!

My community meeting materials are prepped for the first month of school. I started my bulletin board, have my teacher resource sheets printed and in my planning binder, and have made copies of the coverpages and student journal pages. I'm starting our first day {MONDAY!} off with my Belonging theme by reading Big Al by Andrew Clements. I've labeled all of my student notebooks with a "Community Meeting Journal" label (printed 4 to a page to save on ink) and glued in their "belonging" cover page so that we are ready to go! You can read all about my plans in my post on Setting the Foundation for Belonging and grab the free Belonging materials!

During the next post in my series, I'm going to share more about why a theme-based community meeting is just so perfect!

What else is coming up in the series?




2 comments:

  1. Love your ideas and passion! Looking forward to the rest of the series!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Kerry, thanks so much for stopping by and for the encouragement! I'm really enjoying writing this series! See you Saturday!

    ReplyDelete

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