When I was in the fourth grade a million years ago, I can clearly remember walking into the room on the first day of school to see my teacher standing at the blackboard, back to the class, with fresh white chalk clenched in her hand. She was already writing her 10 rules and regulations for her classroom that year. We, of course, were then expected to sit in our nice, straight rows and follow her 10 commandments — or else. Years later, when I began teaching, classroom management had evolved so much. We went to the teacher store and purchased cute, colorful charts that had those exact same 10 rules and regulations preprinted on them. We taped them up and, once again, expected students to follow them without any say of their own. Progress! Or maybe not.
In today's classrooms, there truly has been progress and a shift in thinking. Realizing the importance of student voice, many teachers now create anchor charts with their students instead of for them. This week I'd like to share with you a collection of anchor charts created during the first weeks of school by myself and a wonderful group of teachers with whom I'm honored to work. These charts, mostly created with students during class meetings, become the foundation for classroom management that we build upon as the year progresses.
Anchor charts created for kindergarten and first grade students are often done in very simple language, without a lot of flashy decorations to distract. Pictures are helpful for visual cues. Thanks to Jennifer Chambers and Nadeen Brown for sharing their charts below.
I love the chart below to use with my third graders. I keep it posted next to our carpet area and simply need to reference the chart if I see a third grader not acting like a "listener." While most anchor charts are made with your class, I broke the rules on this one. I made it with students a couple of years ago and liked it so much I laminated it to reuse again.
Students contributed their ideas to this chart on the second day of school, sharing how they would like their new classmates to act.
I created this chart two years ago with my class. It was simple and hung in our room all year.
Dave Russo created this Officer Buckle and Gloria-inspired anchor chart after reading the story with his third graders and discussing how all rules are created to maintain safety or respect.
Jamie Dobronos lets her students share their thoughts about third grade by giving every single student a voice on her charts seen below.
Third grade teacher Lisa Carruthers not only gives her students a voice in setting class rules and group norms, she hands over the paper and markers as well!
Learning to collaborate and work respectfully in groups is important. We make this chart early in the year to establish group norms. Tip: I laminate the die cut letters that spell out GROUP so I can peel them off and reuse the next year.
Alan Gieleghem's third graders work to discover the underlying meaning of the rules in their classroom in the chart below.
Lisa helps her kids keep their desks in working order with a chart that shows and tells how their desks should be organized.
This printable chart helps a great deal in keeping the noise down in my room. I often simply need to give a reminder of, "You should be working in a 'turn & talk' partner voice," to my class to bring the chatter to a reasonable level.
This chart gives students a visual checklist to makes sure they are fully qualified to say, "I'm done!"
For those days when I just can't be there, I like knowing my class has already discussed what I expect of them, and this chart serves as a handy reminder.
At the end of each day, we take time out for reflection on what was learned. Activities we completed are listed on the laminated chart and students write in their journals what they took away from each lesson in terms of their learning.
Nancy Haboush made the charts below with her first graders to get them started with good reading habits the first week of school. Once again, the charts are easy to read, uncluttered, and include visual cues for developing readers.
As students filled their book boxes for the first time, we discussed what sorts of books they may want to keep in their book box during readers' workshop. Read more about this in my post, "Rethinking the Book Box."
We frequently turn to "pair and share" with partners during reading as conversations about books play an important role in gaining a deeper understanding of books and authors. Because my third graders don't always know how to get the discussion started with their partners, the class brainstormed a list of ways to begin a conversation with a classmate. I took their list and put it into a word document that I could print in assorted sizes. Click on the anchor chart below for your own printable copy.
Making this chart as part of readers' workshop is always a fun and telling thing to do with students. While my boys and girls always come up with a couple of ideas for what real reading looks like, they are more than excited to share all the ways they know to "fake read."
After my students generated a list of good reader habits, I walked around and captured pictures of students exhibiting those same behaviors. For habits of someone pretending to read, I asked for volunteers to pose and nearly everyone wanted to show me their best " fake" reading.
Jayne Kelly shares an anchor chart her class created together establishing what good math partners do.
In "Math Talk 101," I shared how my students have rich conversations about math. The poster below was developed to guide their discussions if needed.
I took my handmade Math Talk anchor chart and turned it into a poster-size one I could save.
Lisa developed a list of iPad interventions on this large chart, including the lingo we use to manage our 1:1 iPads.
In my post, "Geography Skills Soar With Mystery Skype," I shared some of the protocols for behavior during a Mystery Skype session as seen in the anchor chart below.
I always admire Nancy's creativity as she helps her first graders keep their behavior in check. As students walk through the door, they get to look at themselves in the mirror and think about the habits and character traits they want to possess.
Her Anchor Tree grows over the school year as strategies for good behaviors blossom as needed.
By now it may be obvious that I have a love affair with anchor charts, and I make a lot of them! While I may save a few each year, it’s impossible to keep all of them — I just don’t have the space and besides, I love creating new ones each year with my class. So, in order to remember charts I really like, I snap a photo before I toss them away and save the picture in a binder labeled by subject. Even though I may not duplicate the chart exactly, seeing the picture reminds me of what worked well and what I may want to include (or leave out) in this year’s version.
When I create charts with the kids, my handwriting is messy (really messy!) as I try to write fast enough to keep up with their ideas. I scribble things down, draw arrows and generally make a chart that's tough to read, let alone look at. Below on the left, you'll see an anchor chart I made with my class last week. Revisiting the chart a few times, students decided to change the title, make corrections and add onto it. The yellow sticky notes were put there by students who had ideas later in the day and wanted them included. Even though it includes lots of student voice — it's a hot mess of organization. My little secret is if I think the chart will be up more than a couple weeks, I rewrite it and bring order to the anchor. It may not be the sanctioned way of making a chart, but it makes me feel better and the kids always ooh and aah at our final copy. See my "before" and "after" anchor charts below.
Many of the teachers who sent me images to share were worried they weren't fancy enough. I love that they aren't "fancy." They are just great examples of authentic work done with students just getting acclimated to a new school year, classroom and teacher.
For more wonderful anchor charts to use in your classroom this year, visit these must-see posts:
I hope you'll find a little inspiration in these anchor charts for classroom management, or at the very least come away feeling good that your charts don't always have to be "fancy" to be effective resources for your students.