Thursday, February 12, 2009

Morning Meetings – Developmental Design

This year, our Junior High School faculty are leading our students in a “morning meeting” process each Friday as part of our Developmental Design initiative.

This work is direct by-product of the district’s new Strategic Plan. The Developmental Design program is something that we anticipate implementing more fully in the future. For now, we have started with these Friday efforts.

Last Friday, I found myself on the 7th and 8th grade floor and simply stopped in to a number of classrooms as they completed activities associated with the DD morning meeting. One of the important elements of the program is to have students know one another better (and for the teachers involved to get to know students in a different way, as well).

Each morning meeting will typically include an activity that gets all the students involved in a way that accomplishes the goal above. Let me give you a sample of what I observed in the three rooms I had a chance to visit during the lengthened homeroom period (about a twenty minute time-frame):

  • In one class, the students were told to write their name on a piece of paper. They were then instructed to throw it into the center of the room; the students were sitting in a circle. Then, students retrieved a paper at random from the center of the room and wrote something nice about that person – a compliment. This was then repeated two more times – paper thrown into the center of the room and a random one retrieved. When these papers were retrieved a last time, the comments are read aloud and shared with the group by the person who picked up the paper last. What a nice way to start the day – hearing all those kind statements about you!

  • In another class, the students were again in a circle. I was invited to join. The activity in progress involved naming something that you liked. It could be anything – a type of candy, a vacation destination, a sport, a type of movie, etc. Then, anyone in the circle who liked that same thing stood up. Anyone standing was to then find a different, open seat and move there. This activity was repeated over and over. In a short time, you learned a lot about the students in the room. The teacher called on students to give their item they liked and everyone was involved – even the most quiet. And – every time someone named something -- there were at least a couple of students who “joined in” by standing and moving with him/her.

  • Finally, my last visit was to a class that was in the process of reviewing various lists of three statements each person had made on a piece of paper about him/herself. Again, the class was seated in a circle. Two of the statements were supposed to be true and one was to be deliberately false. Each individual read his/her three statements and then the class would vote after each person as to which statement they thought was false. Again, this activity revealed information that otherwise may never be known – the student who once lived in California, the student who modeled, the student whose father was in his fifties, etc. We all left the class knowing a bit more about those who were in the room!

You can read more about Developmental Design by clicking on the link. We intend to expand the implementation so that it becomes more than a Friday only happening. This is an initiative that targets grades 6 through 8.

There will be a complementary effort called Responsive Classroom for the elementary grades. We intend to begin that work with our students next year. This year, the elementary teachers are hearing more about that program, and we are planning training for the elementary teachers to occur during the upcoming summer.

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