Some teachers believe that my morning routine is a waste of “quality time” of instruction. This routine consists of social interaction, independent reading, reading/writing response, read alouds and discussions. My goal is to provide the students with opportunities to acquire and develop knowledge. As a third grade, self-contained TAKS teacher, I am expected to work on passages and strategies drilling my students to exhaustion as soon as the children enter my classroom door. I refuse to drill my students to boredom and nonsense.
It is 7:45 a.m. just as any regular morning students begin to pour into class. As part of their morning routine, they take their breakfast, sit at their desks and begin to eat. As food fuels them up they begin to energetically speak to one another about the previous day events. They laugh, giggle, gasp and comment as they listen to each other’s stories. At one point or another, they include me in their conversations. I laugh, giggle, gasp and comment on what they say.
It is now 8:00 a.m. the students stand to say the Pledge of Allegiance, Texas Pledge, and Student Creed finalizing with a Moment of Silence. They sit at their desks again; continue eating breakfast while watching our principal give the announcements on TV, ending with her typical, “Hope you have a wonderful day!” As the students finish up breakfast, they take a glance at the wall where the “Daily Duties” are posted. Each one has the responsibility to complete their designated task before Silent Sustained Reading time. Once their task is finished they head towards the classroom library and browse for a reading book of their personal interest.
It is now D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything And Read) Time, 8:15 a.m., the students are reading silently at their desks. As I sit and read quietly at my kidney table, I frequently observe the students. Independent reading is going well, most of the students are on task, there are one or two students that stand to browse and switch reading books. Students stop at different times during the reading to get their writing journal. During the writing I see students scratch their heads as they think, take a peek into their reading book using it as reference to their writing and others simply write and draw nonstop. As each student finishes with their reading/writing response they set the journal on my kidney table, sit at their desks and continue reading independently. As I open the journals and read their responses I see the different writing formats used such as letters, poems, summaries, comic strips and newspaper articles just to name a few. I place a scented, smiley face stamp on each journal entry with a short comment as feedback.
A set alarm bell rings at 9:00 a.m. Students immediately stand, place their book where it belongs and line up for a quick restroom and water break.
At 9:10 a.m. our Shel Silverstein daily poem reading begins. I read a poem aloud then the students and I initiate a discussion. I find very interesting to see how students agree or disagree using the text and illustrations to proof their point to one another.
It is now 9:15 a.m., after a good, short debate among students, I read a quick story to them. As I read I look at each one of them at one point or another observing their reactions to the reading giving me an idea of their understanding of the story. I end the reading by asking students if they have any questions or comments in regards to the reading. Again, discussion arises when students make comments or question the text and one another.
Time has gone by quickly, it is now 9:30 a.m., my language arts block is about to begin. It’s time to get started…
This morning routine has helped my students become better readers and writers. Yes, the TAKS is important, but I refuse to dedicate my instruction to nonsense material. My students and I obtained 100% Reading TAKS Achievement without having to emphasis on passages, but rather on social interaction, independent reading, reading/writing response, read alouds and discussions. Is this wasted time?