I’ve been focusing on anchor charts lately. It’s a love/hate relationship for me. Let me explain.
· I am a visual learner, so anchor charts are a natural fit for my classroom and me. If I had a photographic memory, such visual reminders would be superfluous. But, alas, there is no camera in my brain. I assume the majority of my students also lack an Instagram intellect. Thus, I ♥ anchor charts for providing the cues.
· In my district, it is permissible to have anchor charts posted in the classroom during standardized testing. Permissible, that is, if they were hanging prior to the start of testing. That is a distinct advantage for visual learner students. Gotta ♥ that!
· Creating anchor charts with my students allows me to model my thinking; a teaching strategy I ♥. Similarly, I can evaluate their thinking and understanding by observing their reactions and contributions.
· Anchor charts can be dynamic. As we delve into a subject, we can add to the anchor chart. It’s another way to scaffold learning. ♥
· Some of my anchor charts are static. As such, I introduce the chart to my class, explaining its tenets, and post it at a learning center. This promotes independence for my students and allows me to conduct small group instruction with minimal disruption. ♥ These charts can be stored and used year after year.
· Anchor charts are concise. Teaching my students to be succinct is also a valuable lesson. I ♥ bulleted lists! (In case you couldn’t tell.)
So what’s not to like about anchor charts?
· Charts should be neat and organized, with simple graphics to enhance their meaning. I can barely draw a straight line with a ruler! Although my 1st graders think my stick figures are wonderful, I’m pretty sure my upper grade students are stifling their snickers. Then I peruse Pinterest and see all the adorable anchor charts with hand drawn graphics and feel utterly inadequate.
· There can be too much of a good thing. Like most elementary teachers, I embrace trends with enthusiasm. So my room began wearing anchor charts everywhere. I even considered pinning some to the ceiling like my dentist does. The sad effect is that my students were on visual overload and the anchor charts ceased being helpful. It can be difficult to find the balance between just right and too much. Just ask Goldilocks.
· As helpful as anchor charts are, they present the age old problem of storage. Where to keep these instructional aids in an already overcrowded classroom is a perennial problem. Of course, I could recreate them each year, but for some of them, that seems wasteful. For example, I have a set of 20 poetry posters that are very helpful when my students are challenged to write a specific form of poetry. Fortunately, while wandering through Pinterestland, I found a wonderful solution: an anchor chart binder. It's perfect for my pre-printed, 1 page, poetry posters.