Routines are a very important part of a special education classroom. Unique learners thrive when they know what to expect and when to expect it. This familiarity with the classroom routine creates comfort and fosters confidence, laying the groundwork for learning. Because the beginning of each student’s day sets the tone for the remainder of the day, it’s the teacher’s job to set learners up for success. That’s why each day when my students come into my classroom they follow the same routine—morning meeting.
What Is Morning Meeting?
An important way to anchor my students’ day, morning meeting is a time when we practice many different life and social skills, such as greetings, days, months, years, seasons, counting, conversation skills, and much more. News‑2‑You dramatically changed my morning meeting by providing the Today’s Weather feature. Here are some of the ways my students and I use it to get our day started:
1. Days of the Week
I display Today’s Weather on my SmartBoard, which is right next to a calendar set that I refer my students to. In addition to visually displaying the days of the week, my calendar set features moveable pieces reading “yesterday was,” “today is,” and “tomorrow will be.”
The first prompt in Today’s Weather is “Today is:___.”
The corresponding visuals on my board give students the opportunity to find the answer more independently. They also help students remember the proper way to answer my questions, using complete sentences. The concepts of yesterday, today, and tomorrow can be very difficult for some students to grasp, which makes this routine and repetition very important!
2. Months in a Year
The next prompt in Today’s Weather is “The month is:___.”
I ask my students what month it is and it is their job to locate it on the calendar set, with teacher assistance as needed. Once they find the month on the set, I have them find the matching month on the SmartBoard.
3. Today’s Date
When we come to the next prompt, “The date is:___,” I have the date already marked on my calendar set so students can practice referring to a calendar to answer the question. Once they answer, a student is chosen to find the matching number on the SmartBoard. Our routine is for the students to practice counting up to the number of today’s date as a whole class. This repetition in counting has helped many of them increase their number recognition and counting abilities.
4. Today’s Weather
Inviting interactivity, “The weather is:___” prompt in Today’s Weather provides visual supports showing different weather conditions students can choose from.
I use this as an opportunity to have them look outside to assist in answering the question. Then, a student comes to the board and selects the correct condition. Next, students must decide if the temperature is hot, warm, cool, or cold. There are visuals on the screen but I also use n2y’s thermometer visual to vary their exposure to learning about temperature. The thermometer can be found under Core Materials in Unique Learning System.
5. Deciding What to Wear Based on Weather
One of my students’ favorite parts of Today’s Weather is dressing their n2y character for the day. Students can choose from a variety of clothing options to dress a character in items that are appropriate for the weather. In addition to prompting great discussions, this feature makes it easy to connect to students’ lives by discussing what everyone wore to school and why. With differently abled characters and gender-specific figures, clothing and other symbols now available in Today’s Weather, these conversations are even more meaningful!
Other Fun Ideas
Integrate music into morning meeting when going over seasons, days of the week, and months of the year—there are so many fun videos to choose from on YouTube!
Practice counting whenever you can—days of the week, months of the year, seasons, and counting up to today’s date.
Have students access the weather on their own device or displayed on the board. Discuss the high and low temperature of the day and write it on the board.
You can create a Google Form and send it to individual students to follow along with your calendar prompts. Then, bookmark the form on each student’s device. They can fill out the date, month, year, temperature conditions, high and low temperature independently by referring to information on the board or with assistance from an adult. This could also be completed without devices by using dry erase markers on a reusable form or in a journal.
Adding Class News to Your Routine
The information your class compiles from Today’s Weather can also assist you in creating Class News. This interactive tool within News‑2‑You allows you to create your very own class newspaper that discusses the weather, describes what you are working on in class, spotlights a person in your class, and reviews the article that is being read in class that day. Whether they create them daily, weekly, or at some frequency in between, students can share their newspapers with special people in their lives, forming an amazing connection between school and home. Class News is a great addition to classroom newsletters and even contains a section where you can add important information that needs to reach home. You can print out the newspaper when you are finished or email it to yourself.
In our day‑to‑day lives and workplaces, we all use the weather as a conversation starter; in fact, it could be seen as a universal morning routine. Today’s Weather makes that practice accessible to unique learners, helping students build important conversational skills along with reinforcing academic and life skills.