Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Anchor Charts: Low Tech, High Impact

I've been visiting my classroom once a week after school for the past couple of weeks to try to wrap my brain around the fact that I will be back there soon.

Every day.

As the teacher.

Keep in mind that I have only taught this class for eight days this entire year.

EIGHT. As in the first three days and the following week. I'm hoping I remember all of their names. Did I mention we also have a new (to us) principal this year?

So much learning has taken place in Room 1 that I was overwhelmed when I walked in. And I know how much learning has happened because my wonderful sub created anchor charts with my students throughout the year and plastered them all over my walls. If you are new to anchor charts, check out this blog post for some tips.

During my first year of teaching, I didn't understand the value of being able to refer back to our learning at any point in the year. Honestly, it's a miracle I survived that year. I still get emails from job search websites if that gives you any indication of my desperation. But as time went on, and my skills improved, I began using anchor charts without really knowing it. My second year of teaching was also my second year teaching kindergarten (bless you, kindergarten teachers, by the way), and I created letter charts with my class each week and hung them on the clothesline across my wall of windows. I don't know if the kids ever looked at them again, but they were there.

It really wasn't until my fifth year of teaching that I began using anchor charts with intention. That year I read The Daily Five and The CAFE Book, which transformed my literacy instruction completely. I'll never go back to traditional stations. Side note: Did you know there is a second edition??

 Sorry for the terrible picture quality. These were my Daily Five charts from last year. 

Now, in my seventh year, I create anchor charts for EVERYTHING and refer to them as often as possible. I have learned that many of my learners need the visual cues to trigger their memories. I'll post pictures of some math charts soon, but I took a few pictures of the reading/writing/grammar charts that my sub has created and posted in my room to share with you.

We've all pinned the world's cutest anchor charts created by such fabulous and artistic teachers like Cara Carroll, but mine will never be so cute. The point is, it doesn't matter how cute they are. What matters is that they are created WITH the kids (you can go back and "cute them up" later if you want to), and you refer back to them often to help trigger their memories from your original lessons. I organized my room this year so the kids know to look on one bulletin board for math charts, another for writing, etc. so they are not just scattered all over the room.

This is posted in my classroom reading area. 

Don't mind my archaic student computers in front of the writing board.
The "What Writer's Write" pencil is Cara Carroll's idea. 

OK, how genius is this?! It's hard to tell from the picture, but my sub taped transparency sheets over the Character, Setting, and Plot areas so she can write with dry erase markers for each story they're reading without having to create a new chart. LOVE IT! 

With so much emphasis on technology, it's easy to forget sometimes that we can still make a huge impact on learning "the old fashioned way." Yes, I could create charts on my interactive whiteboard (and there are definitely times when I do), but then they wouldn't be readily accessible for the student who struggles to remember that a caption gives information about a photograph while another forgot how to write an opinion. Anchor charts allow my students to access information when they need it while still remaining independent.

I could have every piece of cutting edge technology out there at my disposal (how awesome would that be?!), and I would still need my chart paper, easel, and scented markers. Keep calm and chart on, friends.

Want to make your own "Keep Calm" poster? Check out the Keep Calm-O-Matic, one of the many useful resources I've discovered through Twitter!

No comments:

Post a Comment