Evolution of Anchor Charts

You can bring a chart already created to a minilesson (far R); create a chart with students (middle); collect ideas and make the chart later (far L).

There are many ways to go about creating an anchor chart to use in your classroom. One way is to create the chart ahead of time and use it as part of your instruction. I find myself using this approach when I think my teaching point is brand new for students. An example of this is the chart on the far right in the photo, which Christi used to teach her minilesson, “What is Writing Workshop,” on the first day of school.

Sometimes I want students’ input on a chart, so I’ll ask them to tell me their ideas. Both the chart in the center and the chart on the left were created with this idea. On the chart in the middle, I expected to chart their thinking immediately; however, during the lesson I was getting some unexpected answers (some of which bordered on bizarre and I wasn’t sure should be part of a chart I intend to use for instruction). So, mid-lesson, I changed my approach and asked students to jot their ideas on sticky notes. This bought me some time to reflect on their thinking, chart it in a way that would be useful, and plan my next minilesson to make the teaching point clear.

The chart on the left was created with students during a reading workshop lesson. Often when we have ideas for charts which will involve photos or a strategic organization, it is best to create a draft version during workshop and then create the final version alone, bringing it to the minilesson the next day.

Here are the two charts Christi created during recess and used in following minilessons.

After Christi and I reflected on the students' thinking, we created a useful chart. We also added "Stories told across pages," because a student said it during the lesson. Anchor charts are always a work in progress.

This chart included photos of students practicing being readers. Photos are a great addition to any anchor chart.

When creating anchor charts it is a good idea to keep the purpose in mind. The point of an anchor chart is to help with instruction. Anchor charts provide a visual reminder of the crucial teaching points. If you never reference an anchor chart in a minilesson, conference, or share session, it is a good indication that you don’t need the chart. Get rid of it!

Also, after a few days, it is important to move the chart to its permanent location. By Thursday, Christi had moved her “Teaching; Work Time; Sharing” chart to the wall above the meeting area. Next week the “What Do Readers Look Like” and “What Makes a Story” charts will be moved to the bulletin boards she’s designated to collect reading and writing teaching points.

As students become more proficient readers and writers and the charts aren’t needed, Christi will take them down, making space to track the new teaching.

And one more thing . . .

I wanted to share with you Cathy’s “What is Workshop?” chart. It is different from Christi’s, but conveys the exact same teaching point. Cathy creates her charts on a small white board to reference during minilessons and then puts them (or asks her students to put them) on chart paper to hang in the room.

Another version of a chart for "What is Workshop." Cathy is also using Gooney Bird Greene to open the doors of storytelling to her 2nd graders. It is a great companion to launching writing workshop.