Anchor Charts as an Effective Teacher/Student Tool
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Back in the day, it would not be unusual to enter a classroom, especially in the elementary grades, and catch a glimpse of store-bought educational charts displayed on the walls, windows, and bulletin boards. I can remember in my earlier teaching days going to the teacher store (Hammett’s was the place to shop) to purchase decorating kits. In August, the teaching coupons would flood my mailbox with enticing offers to purchase materials to post in the classroom. I was in good company as my colleagues and I would make decisions as to which ones to buy. Decisions, decisions, do we go for the latest trend or the tried-and-true? The kits were a no-brainer. They were organized by theme, eye catching, and they were timesavers.
Fast-forward to present day and the push is for more teacher-created materials displayed in the classroom to support the learning environment. Thus, the term we hear frequently in my building, and I am sure in many schools around the country: anchor charts.
What are Anchor Charts?
Simply put, an anchor chart is a tool used largely to support instruction and to move the student towards achieving success with lessons taught in class. They are also used as a classroom management tool for students to self-monitor their behavior by gently reminding them of expectations and routines.
Anchor charts are created during the instruction of the lesson. As the teacher models the lesson or strategy, the lesson reinforcement or strategy tool is written on chart paper. Once the lesson is complete, the chart is placed in a convenient student-friendly location that the students can access it independently. This is another vehicle for academic support, especially for the visual learner. The beauty of an anchor chart is that it can be displayed as needed or determined by the student work. Some anchor charts live all year long in the classroom, while others are only displayed during the current unit of study.
Sample Anchor Charts
Charts for classroom management: A chart similar to this helps eliminate the “I’m finished, what do I do next?" blues. My students and I created this chart based upon the requirements for independent reading.
Charts that live in the room for the school year: These charts serve as a constant reminder to the students without direct input from the teacher. Once the lesson is demonstrated, the chart remains in place to gently guide those who may have a case of the, "I forgot" or "Did you teach that?" syndrome.
Charts that take a leave of absence and return: These charts you will want to laminate because of the wear and tear from use in the classroom. For those times when a lesson repeats, these charts fit the bill. I use the following chart during the editing phase of my writing units. My co-teacher, Sue Grass, crafted the essay structure chart.
Charts that grow and develop over time: I think my students enjoy these the most. We are currently working on different ways to name our dialog in our writing. Our "Instead of Said" wall grows as the students add different dialogue tags. There is space on the chart to help facilitate this process.
Charts that are currently in the unit: We are currently writing fiction in our room and are ramping up our efforts to vary our transitions. These charts may go on a leave of absence at the end of the unit and reappear during our Test Sophistication Unit.
Pearls of Wisdom — Don't reinvent the wheel. If you see a chart in a colleague's classroom that you love, compliment first and then ask if you may borrow the idea. I am constantly seeing fabulous charts in my building. Thankfully my colleagues love to share. Think about getting together with some of your colleagues to create a "bank" of charts. Also, you can try Pinterest to find other ideas.
Any anchor charts that work really well for you and your students? Please share!