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Daily/Morning Messages

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 is often 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. Houghton Mifflin offers a variety of morning message activities.

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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You will want to read the examples for all grade levels to see the wide variety of ways to use a daily message.

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-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.

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?

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.

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.

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?

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

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?

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~


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
HM 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.

First Grade

Happy Friday, class!

I have covered some of the words in our morning message. Can you help me figure out these covered words?

Last night, I went to the (park). I took my (dog) with me. He likes to (slide).

Let's talk about how you were able to figure these words out.

Benchmark: Use reading strategies before, during, and after reading
Body of Knowledge: Use self-monitoring strategies to understand unknown words and text (use meaning cues, use visual cues)
H-M Tested Skill: Think about Words
NOTE: The words in parentheses are each covered with a Post-It note.

After reading the message together, the teacher would invite the class to make guesses about the first word hidden by a Post-It note. She may record their guesses at the bottom of the paper. This part requires students to use context (meaning cues). She may then uncover just the first letter. Students would then alter their guesses using phonics (visual cues). If needed, more letters (such as the last letter) may be revealed. The next two covered words continue in the same way. At the end, the class discusses how they were able to figure these words out. Their answers may or may not be recorded on the message.

Second Grade

Good morning class,

I have to tell you about what happened last night. I came home with my 3 kids, Tristie, Blake and Jordan. As we walked into the house, something went flying in front of our faces. It was a bird! We spent the next hour trying to figure out how to get the bird out of our house. We tried catching it, chasing it, and batting a broom at it. Nothing worked. Finally, we opened the front door and waited. The bird saw a light outside and flew toward it. The bird was glad to be free, but probably not as glad as we were.

Benchmark: Understand how authors use elements and techniques in literature
Body of Knowledge: Identify story elements
H-M Tested Skill: Story structure

After the class reads the story aloud, the teacher might say something like, "Class, my story contains the same elements that most stories contain. Let's talk about some of these elements."
The class would then look for: characters, setting, events, problem, and resolution, possibly charting these, or underlining the elements with different colored markers.

Adaptation: This same story could have been used during a genre study of narrative writing to discuss key features found in narratives.

Third Grade

G'day Mates,

It's going to be a great day! The crayfish are here! They may be unlike any creature you have ever seen. I hope they won't leave an unpleasant smell in our classroom.

Also, our new story is called The Three Little Javelinas. It's one of my favorite books. You will discover some information about the desert as you read this enjoyable story.

After yesterday's organization of our data, today we will discuss the results from our graphs about our pets.

Let's make today unbelievably good!

Benchmark: Use word analysis skills
Body of Knowledge: Read words with base words and prefixes and suffixes
H-M Tested Skill: Structural Analysis, Base words

After the class reads the message together, the teacher may say something like, "Some of the words in my morning message are a bit complicated. It might take some analysis to learn what they mean. These words are made up of a base word and other word parts, such as a suffix, prefix, or an inflectional ending. Let's look for and circle the base words."
The teacher would demonstrate one example (unlike) by circling the base word (like).

Students would then search for more words like these and circle the base words.

Fourth Grade


Today, we are going to write in our writer's notebooks and read a new story and we will also learn how to count back change in math and we will have gym in the afternoon and we are going to do an experiment in science and we are going to have a great day. Hmmmm. There seems to be a problem in my message. Can you help me fix it?

Benchmark: Use correct grammar, punctuation, and capitalization
Body of Knowledge: Edit writing for correct grammar, including run-on sentences....
H-M Tested Skill: Run-on sentences

After the class reads the message, they discuss ways to change the run-on sentence. Either the teacher or the students cross out and fix the writing.
Adaptation: You may want to pull this corrected message out the next day and talk about word choice and varying the beginnings of the sentences.

Fifth Grade

Welcome fifth graders,

I need your help with today's morning message. I've mixed up the sequence of events in my story. Please look for clues to help me put it back in the correct order. I've numbered each sentence to help you. Use your white board to record your ideas.

1. Yellowstone is where we first saw buffalo, mule deer and even an elk. 2. We started off in St. Louis and traveled west. 3. It was here that we visited the Pacific Ocean and the Hoh Rainforest.

4. Last summer I went with my friends to the mountains for three weeks. 5. We then drove to Glacier National Park in Montana near the Canadian border. 6. We finished our trip with short visits to Mt. Rainier and Mount St. Helens. 7. Many years ago, glaciers carved out these gorgeous mountains, and this gave the park its name. 8. Our first stop was Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, where we camped for four days. 9. Following Glacier, we traveled to Washington State and camped four nights in Olympic National Park.

Let's discuss what clues helped you because these are the same things other authors do to move the story forward.

Benchmark: Use reading strategies before, during, and after reading
Body of Knowledge: Determine importance of information in fiction and non-fiction selections (sequence of events)
H-M Tested Skill: Sequence of events

NOTE: The numbered sentences would be written on sentence strips so they could be manipulated. With a story such as this, you would want to be sure a map is available.
Teacher and students would read the message together. Students might work independently, or with a partner to sequence the sentences. They would write the order of the sentences on their white boards using the numbers. The sentences would then be manipulated according to the concensus of the group. A final reading would take place to check for accuracy. (If this were the first time the students were exposed to sequencing, it would be best to give a demonstration, then do it together as a class&emdash; perhaps circling the clues first.)

The group would discuss what clues they used to sequence the events.

Adaptations: Grades below fifth would use fewer sentences.