Our students last year helped us refine the way we began our morning routine. As we were starting to feel our “Entry Task” becoming mundane, we were in search of a better way to establish our mornings. Ann and I have spent a lot of time researching about the brain and how to teach so students will retain the information. We absolutely knew we wanted to begin the day in an inviting, engaging way. Thus, our students helped us in developing the Brain Breakfast. We began implementing cognitive activities that would expand on the knowledge we were exploring, but also motivate our creative juices.
Some of these ideas initially stimulated from Comprehension Connections, by Tanny McGregor, which provided ideas for integrating the arts with comprehension strategies. In our classroom, we refer to comprehension strategies as “Thinking Strategies.” Students are encouraged to use these strategies throughout the day within all content areas, topics, and conversations. McGregor’s book provides a wonderful platform for teachers to teach the specific strategies in a natural, engaging way that allows students to transfer the skill in an authentic manner.
Here is a list of ideas used commonly for our Brain Breakfasts:
· Observe an Art Print. What do you notice?
· Listen to a song or watch a YouTube video with the lyrics. What do the lyrics mean to you?
· Listen to wordless music. How does the music make you feel?
· Use an Inspirational Quote. What does this quote mean to you?
· Poetry. What is the message of the poem? Author’s style?
· A student quote. How does this idea inspire you?
· A metaphor. What would you add to this metaphor?
· A recently learned topic/concept. What do you remember about this topic/content?
The direction we take each morning is based on our students’ needs. We choose a topic, theme, or idea in which we want to reinforce or explore through intentional conversation. Our purpose is to keep our Brain Breakfast within 10-15 minutes. Students get about 5 minutes to reflect using their Thinking Strategies, as we encourage them to engage in using/practicing as many as possible through these activities. We then spend 3-5 minutes with a Pair-Share moment, and then 3-5 with a Whole Group share out & discussion.
At this point in the year, many students are beginning to create their own quotes and metaphors during the Brain Breakfast. This precious time is valued by all and has allowed them to start the day with a creative, thoughtful experience. They are always eager to get into the room and see what Breakfast is posted! After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day… and our Brain Breakfasts have the right nutrients for students to become focused, centered, engaged, and ready to start the day successfully.
We encourage you to try beginning the day with a Brain Breakfast, and would enjoy hearing about your experience. ~Celina