Minds in Bloom is very happy to present Michael Friermood and his guest post on anchor charts We know you’ll find this very informative!
You don’t have to be an artist to make a great anchor chart. I mean, you can be an artist, it’s just not a requirement. It would be helpful if you are a teacher though. Are you in?
Rather than showing you a bunch of anchor charts about different comprehension strategies, I want to show you just one, and really dissect it. Below is an anchor chart I made for the strategy: “Inferring a Character’s Feelings.” It’s the one we’ll use.
Let’s look at what might fit inside each third.
But don’t stop there! Notice the cues and tips on the left side of the notebook page. During the lesson, in addition to modeling the thinking behind using the reading strategy, I also want to capture my thinking about the response itself. I want to anchor it down so that when a student gets stuck on his own response, these cues can be a bridge to get on track.
Step back now and look at the whole chart again. You can see our “thirds,” and even smaller sections within.
exploded. To avoid getting too color-happy, try to be purposeful with
the colors you choose. Use color to help organize content and draw attention to certain information. How?
Just like with color, your lines matter, too! This is the other reason I like normal, conical-tip Crayola markers so much. I can use the point for smaller lettering or thin lines, press a little harder to make something bold, or turn the marker sideways to get full-on thick. This applies not only when I’m writing actual words, but also with lines that divide up sections of the chart or that frame certain chunks of text.
What to Do with Anchor Charts Before, During, and After the Lesson
I do like to have the “top third” information (strategy title and learning target) already written prior to the lesson. This saves a couple of minutes of lesson-time, but more importantly, it gives students a little taste of what’s coming and it helps me get off to a focused start to the lesson.
Sometimes a strategy lesson might be pretty involved, or maybe it’s the first time I’m teaching it, and I want to be a little more planned out. If that’s the case, I might sketch out some of the “middle third” beforehand, but I’ll flip the chart up and clip it so I can reveal exactly what I want at the appropriate moments of my lesson.
But at the very least, I always want to add the most vital parts to my anchor chart during the lesson. That would include most of the “middle third” and all of the “bottom third.”
In my experience, two reasons cause a student to refer to an anchor chart: (1) because they remember being part of its creation, and (2) because I refer to it. So for a reading strategy, I try to keep the anchor chart displayed in order to reference it during follow-up lessons or small group teaching. But after my kids have had practice with the strategy, I take the chart down. I may hold onto it for individual students struggling with the strategy, but I rarely keep a strategy anchor chart displayed permanently. If I did, the sheer number of them would make them fade into wallpaper.
An Anchor Chart Template
and options and their grand effects on your students. Clearly, you want to
be focused on teaching. But, by incorporating a
few of these tips and tricks, your anchor charts might just become more
organized, more appealing, and more valuable to your students.
And that is something to breathe easy about.