One thing that I always loved doing in my kindergarten class was our daily morning message. Many teachers do some sort of morning message or shared writing as a whole group activity. It’s typically done during calendar time and is an opportunity to model writing with students. I used this time to promote sentence structure, punctuation, writing sight words, and connecting illustrations to the words written on paper. This is something I loved to do with my students even before coming to the AIMS Center.
Last fall, my task was to coordinate my newly understood research with the familiar work of the classroom. I got to teach math daily in a kindergarten class. When looking at the morning message/shared writing routine through a math lens, I began to think of ways I could bridge both subjects. Here’s what I did as an AIMS Center teacher/researcher during my big adventure back in a kindergarten classroom.
First, I did not want to lose any of the elements of the morning message, but I did want to think of ways it could enable students to see math in their everyday environments in and outside of the classroom. One way that I began to address this was by using photos of the neighborhood and school where my students lived. These photos were now my starting point for my message. I would show my students the photos of the neighborhood and school and have a quick conversation about the scenery in the picture. We would discuss the things they saw and if there was anything that they could count. Quickly, the kids found items that they could count, such as cars, trees, steps on the swings, bars on a fence, the possibilities were endless through their eyes.
Next, as a class, we would decide on a sentence or two that we could write about our photo. This is where the morning message format pretty much stayed the same with one simple twist. We wrote about how many swings, bars, steps, cookies or trees were in the picture. Examples of sentences the kids thought of included:
I see 5 steps on the swing.
I see 10 bars on the fence.
I see 1 red car and 3 blue trucks.
We would count the words in the sentence, the number of letters in the sight words, and total number of letters written. I took every opportunity as the teacher to encourage the students to count and show me how they counted on their fingers. My hope was to get my students to see math in language arts as well as in the places they play and see all around them. Teaching math should not stop when my students walk out of the class or when needing to focus on language-arts skills. This twist in my morning message routine allowed me to continue modeling writing skill with my students in a whole group setting and expanding the counting experiences my students were engaged in on a daily basis.