Like anything, some anchor charts are stronger than others. Here are some basic tips for creating and using quality charts in your classroom:
When To Make A Chart
- To support routines and procedures such as the process for leaving the room, turning in homework, getting help during class, getting ready for the day, putting away materials, how to get the teacher’s attention, etc.
- To support specific procedures or that students will use over time, like operating a microscope or initial troubleshooting with a computer or other device.
- To support complex skills, such as working in a group, solving a problem, reading, and writing
- To support the application of content that does not need to be memorized, like the periodic table, a timeline of dynasties in China, formulas, and editing marks
How To Use Charts In The Classroom
- Designate a spot for each different category of charts. For example, a place for social skills charts, a place for reading charts, etc. This makes it easier for your students to use the charts as a resource.
- Keep charts up when students still need them, take them down when students no longer need them. If your students no longer need the chart to help them remember how to ask to leave the room, take it down. Likewise with unit specific charts.
- Make a past chart reference file and make it available to students. Take pictures of charts and put them in a binder, or on a website. When a new student comes in, or if individual kids need the chart again, they can get it.
- Only make essential charts. There is a balance you need to strike between too many and too few charts, go too far in either direction and the charts are no longer effective
- Make them with students, as you plan to use them. Because anchor charts are supposed to support the learners in your room, there is very likely that last year’s chart won’t be the best chart for this year’s students.
- Train your student to use the charts. When they ask a question that has a corresponding chart, point to it or direct the student to it rather than answer.
How To Make A Quality Chart
- Think of the chart as a collection of tips, how-to’s, and big thinking for a chunk of learning, not just something that supports one lesson.
- Keep it simple: simple titles, simple images, simple organization
- Use colors, writing,and space strategically
Before you run off with this idea, a bit of a warning: beware of pinterest! Remember that the point of an achor chart is to support self-regulation and independence in your learners. How pretty or perfect a chart is does not matter! Use the anchor chart examples you find as inspiration. I’ve started a board on pinterest of examples of great charts for various grades and contents to help!