Sunday, May 10, 2015

Anchor Charts

That "sought after neighborhood" on your classroom your anchor chart bringing down the property value in the neighborhood?

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How to create an effective anchor chart:

The key is to showcase only the most important information without clutter or "busy-ness" that detracts from the message. Some teachers create anchor charts collaboratively with their students as they are teaching the lesson. I have a hard time doing that because I like to be neat and careful, and I don't like wasting chart paper when I mess up. I also find making a big chart in class distracts me from the lesson. What I do instead is, I make the "chart" collaboratively with my class in my notebook which is projected on the board using a document camera. It is like my rough draft before a final copy (the big chart). You do not have to be an artist to make a great anchor chart. Sometimes anchor charts begin as my own notes as I am reading a great book, below right.

If your doubts about your handwriting or artistic abilities are holding you back, you can enlist an artistic student to make one for you. I have done this before as well, even though I can make a pretty nice chart on my own. Sometimes I just have too much to do and I see a great chart on Pinterest that would really help my class with something we are doing, but I just don't have the time to make it. I take a screen shot photo of the chart I want and ask a student (or sometimes my own children) to make it for me. They are always very honored to be asked and do a great job! 

If you are a particularly talented chart maker, why not host an after school "Make and Take Workshop" and have some fun with your colleagues? Set out some chart paper, pencils, markers, and maybe some printed images for the more reluctant artists and have a nice chat over some snacks and charts.
An Anchor Chart on Making an Anchor Chart-Genius!

Anchor chart inspiration:

Showcasing your anchor chart: walls, table tops & notebooks

There's the obvious, bulletin board, that is shown below in a spruced up display with border frames. I have also seen them on rings and curtain rods, the curtain rod pictured below is magnetic. IKEA makes these wonderful tension line curtain rods that are really handy in the classroom. The bathroom department is also a good place to look-shower curtain rods and rings make great anchor chart hanging tools. What works for you will depend on your space.
The table top version is also nice whether you DIY your table top stand out of PVC pipes, or buy your own at IKEA.
 Chart Stand

When we have used an anchor chart, I like to make a mini-version for the students to keep in their interactive student notebooks. I have heard from teachers that have my students in their classes the next year that they wished they still had their notebooks, so I guess some of those charts were really helpful. We have decided that we are going to save the notebooks until the next year and pass them on to the next teacher so the students can continue in their notebooks and still have the tools from the previous year-we will see how that goes. 

Anchor charts on the go:

Thanks to technology, my class can now have access to anchor charts anywhere! When you are in a professional development session or visiting another class and you see something awesome, what is your first instinct? My first instinct is to take out my phone and take a picture of it! With a class website or social media, you can turn your wall charts into a portable resource. I prefer Instagram, since that is what is popular with my students. Now I can take pictures of notes or charts and have an online collection that my students can access any time.

Storing your anchor charts:

Storage possibilities range from plastic bag holders from IKEA, garbage cans up-cycled with stickers and a label, shipping tubes, or a laundry rack with hangers. I have these weird bars in my closet that I didn't know what to do with, so I hang mine with hooks on a bar. 

Getting the most out of your anchor chart:

Like word walls, anchor charts can be useful tools that strengthen content, vocabulary, or procedures. They can reinforce the application of skills from lessons, or they can take up space. You can have the Mona Lisa of anchor charts on your wall, but what does it matter if no one uses it?

I  have written a blog post on the usefulness of a specific anchor chart: "I'm going to tell you about how I ..."  And I will finish up this blog post with my anchor chart on blogging:

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