This post originally appeared on the blog Buzzing with Mrs. B.
If you’ve read my previous post about anchor charts, you know that I feel pretty strongly about a few things.
They must be created with kids, during a lesson, and they shouldn’t just be wallpaper in the classroom.
Instead, we want charts that grow and can be added to as kids learn and try new things.
The best way to ensure that anchor charts don’t become wallpaper is to make them interactive. If kids can interact with charts, they are more likely to learn the content and strategies that the chart represents.
Also, having their own handwriting on a chart, or their own work, can give them ownership over that learning. And the more times we refer to a previous “anchor” lesson, the more it will solidify in kids’ brains. So here are a few ways to do just that!
#1 Post-it try-its
Have kids try out the strategy or skill you’re working on. For example, on the first chart, we recorded characteristics and important details of two different texts to help us make connections. We figured out the lesson from the first text, and I had the kids figure out the lesson of the second text on their own. They wrote it on a post-it and we charted them up!
#2 Task cards
One easy way to have kids try out a skill or strategy is through using task cards. They’re equipped with short texts and they’re made for targeting specific skills. For this anchor chart, I had kids identify evidence on task cards for author’s purpose. They marked their evidence with a yellow highlighter. Then we sorted the cards by author’s purpose. This interactive lesson required kids to practice the strategy and apply it right away. Then we used their thinking as evidence for our chart! You can grab the materials for this lesson here.
This isn’t exactly a task card, but I did provide groups of kids with a paragraph that they could analyze to find evidence and make inferences about characters. Kids marked their evidence and told me what to label on the chart. They love this activity! For some reason, marking up a paragraph in large font is so much more fun than marking up a little paragraph.
In this anchor activity, groups of students matched cards with examples of sensory language, the sense the language appealed to, and the effect of the language on the reader. They underlined their evidence on each card to prove their thinking.
Then we built a three-columned chart with their cards to have an anchor to refer back to! It was a great way to help kids get started with noticing sensory details in mentor texts.
This resource is in my TpT store! Narrative Writing Minilesson: Using Sensory Details
#3 Growing list
Charts that kids can add to over time make great interactive reminders of their learning. They’re also helpful for setting a purpose for independent reading! For example, you can direct students to look for examples of figurative language, or specific types of characters, and add them to the chart.
For the charts below, I introduced a strategy (identifying theme, and describing characters) and the categories or types kids might encounter. Kids were encouraged to add the titles of books as they came across them, and in other cases we added the titles of texts we read together as a class.
Adding pictures of the covers is a great way to help kids remember the book, too!
#4 Post-its on graphic organizers
Blank graphic organizers make great anchor charts because they help kids organize information visually. For this chart about plot structure in fiction, we marked the important elements on the plot map with symbols. Then we recorded important events from the stories we read on post-its. We sequenced the events on the map. For a bonus, we pulled the post-its off of the plot map to represent cause and effect in the bottom right corner. This would make a great work station, too!
#5 Record of learning
For these interactive charts inspired by Lead4ward, we broke up the space into four different areas of focus: texts we read, summary elements, making inferences, and vocabulary. Each chart represented a different genre.
As we worked through texts, we added them to the chart. Sometimes students provided their copy that they’d written their thinking on to add to the chart! We also added question types that referred to summary elements and making inferences. As we came across important academic vocabulary, kids recorded the words on post-its and stuck them on the charts. Great way to record learning and to review later!
These are some of the fun ways I’ve used anchor charts to help kids record and interact with their learning. Which idea would you try?
Chrissy Beltran is an educational consultant & coach who spends her days working with teachers and coaches to engage their students in quality reading and writing experiences, creating resources to support teachers in planning and delivering exciting lessons, and blogging at buzzingwithmsb.com! She is also a mom to a very demanding toddler and wife to her long-suffering husband. Check out Chrissy’s TpT store, blog, Facebook, and Instagram for more teaching ideas (with an occasional side of sass).