Starting the Day with Success & Independence

In my years of teaching middle school, I've tried a lot of different things to start the day. This routine was so effective to get my students going in the morning without overwhelming them with high task demands. It was a great way to start the day with success and build independence! 

First, I set up 3 stations- 1) morning work, 2) movement and 3) work boxes. Students spend 5-10 minutes at each station, depending on the amount of time available. 

Station 1: Morning work

So, I scrapped the instruction aspect of my morning meeting/ calendar time. No more "listening" to me talk about the date or the weather. Instead, my students set up their schedules for the day, write the full and short date, answer a question using a complete sentence (or 2 depending on level) and complete their morning work, which consists of a packet of personal information worksheets and forms. I switch it up occasionally so they can also learn to generalize and fill out different types of forms. 

Station 2: Movement

This is my favorite one! Students participate in movement activities, like yoga or stretching. It's great motor practice and it helps wake up their bodies and minds. 

Station 3: Independent Work Boxes

Each student has a plastic shoebox with activities related to our monthly theme or unit, at their instructional level. For example, if we are doing a functional unit on warning and safety signs, they have matching tasks, file folders, or adapted books teaching about warning & safety signs. Students grab their box, find a place to work, and independently complete the activity in their box. They are required to check in with a teacher before cleaning up. I switch out activities each month and add more as needed. I let students work wherever they want, as long as they are able to stay on task where they are working. It's so easy to differentiate and provide meaningful learning tasks on their level. 

This new routine has been a great way to help us all wake up, warm up and get working independently. We ease into the day and they don't have to listen to me talk. It also gives me the opportunity to wander around and check in with each student, which helps us build relationships and rapport.  

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