The Ultimate Guide to Anchor Charts and How You Can Use Them

February 10, 2024 | By: Extramarks

Ever feel like you and your students are all over the place during a lesson? If that’s the case, an anchor chart can help because it keeps everyone’s attention in one spot.

An anchor chart is a helpful tool for teaching in all grades. It assists with lesson plans, gets students more involved, and gives extra details about classroom procedures.

Whether you’re a new teacher looking to boost student learning or an experienced one wanting something fresh in your classroom, an anchor chart is a great choice.

In this article, we’ll talk about what exactly an anchor chart is and ways it can make your classroom a better place for everyone. 

What are Anchor Charts?

Anchor charts are like helpful posters in the classroom that show important information visually. They can be one big chart for the whole class or smaller ones in students’ notebooks. These charts are super flexible and easy to use, especially for students who find some things challenging or have different ways of learning.

Anchor charts can make learning more enjoyable as they are more interactive than just a regular list. Teachers can make a special anchor chart for a particular lesson and put it up where everyone can see it, like on a bulletin board or whiteboard. You want to put it in a spot that’s easy for students to check whenever they need.

Teachers all over the world really like and use anchor charts. They use them in classrooms for lots of different subjects. Let’s explore how using an anchor chart in your classroom can be really helpful. 

Benefits of Anchor Charts

  1. Guides Students to Work Better

Sometimes, students find it tricky to work by themselves or in small groups. It might be because they struggle to stay focused or don’t fully understand the lesson. Anchor charts can be a great fix for these challenges. Teachers often use anchor charts to explain what students should do when working alone. These charts guide students through their independent work. For example, in an English class doing close reading, an anchor chart can remind students of important reading strategies when they feel stuck.

You can also make use of their visual appeal to serve as a constant cue during tasks such as reading or engaging in writing exercises. The chart, with helpful info on things like phonics or basic grammar, can save teachers from answering easy questions by jogging students’ memories. 

  1. Makes Lessons Fun and Memorable

If you’re teaching about something that’s easy to show with pictures, make an anchor chart! For example, if you’re teaching plants, draw a big flower and point out all its parts as you talk about them. 

  1. Provides Practice

To really remember new ideas, students need to see them more than once. Some studies say it takes 7 or more times of seeing or practicing a concept to remember it for a long time. By keeping the anchor charts up in your classroom for the whole week (or even longer), students get more chances to see and remember the information.

  1. Aids in Classroom Management

Anchor charts can help with managing your classroom, especially in the earlier grades. While it might not be as useful in middle school, it works well for elementary school and younger kids.

Since anchor charts use pictures, they’re perfect for little learners who are still learning to read. They act like reminders for rules and steps before the teacher can write them down. A good example is a chart showing the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for active listening. 

  1. Helps to Recap Lessons

You can use the anchor charts as a starting point for your next lesson. Quickly going over what was covered in the previous day’s or last lesson’s anchor chart at the beginning of your new lesson helps students remember what they learned. You must start your lessons with phrases like “yesterday we learned…” or “if we think back to…”. This gives students a chance to refresh their memories and connect different lessons.

  1. Facilitates Student Engagement

Getting students interested is really important when trying out a new teaching method. Making sure your class is actively involved in a lesson helps them really understand the material. You can use anchor charts in a fun way to increase student involvement. 

One way to do this is to ask a question or give them something to think about, then have them write their answers on a sticky note. They can then stick the note on the anchor chart. When your students are actively taking part in these activities, you can see if they really understand the topic. 

  1. Improves Understanding With Visuals

Anchor charts are like visual guides that make tricky ideas easier to grasp. They show important skills and concepts in a clear and visual way. This helps students remember the information better because they can see how different parts connect. For instance, a chart about story elements can break down the different pieces of a story, making it simpler for students to get the idea. 

  1. Serves as Quick References

You can also use anchor charts to make helpful reference materials for your classroom. If students find a concept tough, you can create a cheat sheet that they can quickly look at when needed. For example, in math, it might be important formulas. In English, it could be new words. And in art, you might have a chart showing how colours mix to create different ones.

  1. Develops Critical Thinking Skills

In the classroom, anchor charts also help students think better by making them analyse and put together information. This is because these charts often ask students to find connections between different things and see how information fits together. When students do this, they get better at looking at information and understanding it, which is a big part of thinking critically.

  1. Helps to Stay on Track

When we’re teaching, it’s easy to go off track and talk about one thing, ending up with something completely different. Personally, you might begin with concept A and end up with concept C. Anchor charts help you stay focused and set yourself up for success right from the start of our lesson. When you gather your students for lessons (for both reading and math), a brief look at the anchor chart tells them what they’ll be learning in that lesson. It gives them a goal for the lesson and helps them stay on track. 

How to Create Anchor Chart Ideas? 

  1. Have an Objective

Begin by figuring out what you want your students to learn. What’s the main thing you want them to get from your lesson or unit? Often, this goal will match a standard or a specific skill. For instance, if your focus is on understanding the beginning, middle, and end of a story, that becomes your goal.

You can also create charts that highlight classroom rules and expectations. We usually make these at the beginning of the school year, and they stay on display all year. If you see that students are forgetting a rule, you can point to the chart to remind them.

  1. Create a Visual Plan

Outline or frame your chart to make it visually appealing. This is a simple step that you can do in advance. Get some markers because they have vibrant colours and a great smell! This visual framing helps direct attention to the key points inside the anchor chart. 

  1. Title and Headings

Planning titles and headings for your anchor chart can be done in advance. You can write them out or have them pre-printed and ready to use. Personally, a lot of people prefer having them printed in bright colours, which makes them stand out. If you laminate them, you can use them for other anchor charts later in the year.

  1. Be Creative and Get it Done

  •  Add color and words.
    Use different colours and bullet points to help students see the different strategies easily.
  •  Keep it simple and clean.
    Use easy-to-read graphics and organize information clearly. Avoid distracting details or extra marks, like arrows or too much underlining.
  •  Draw simple pictures with the words.
    Complement words with simple drawings. The more ways students can learn about a topic, the better.
  •  Use them wisely.
    While anchor charts are helpful, you don’t need one for every lesson. Choose carefully to make a bigger impact.
  •  Feel free to borrow ideas.
    Teachers often get great ideas from each other. If your colleague has already made a chart on a topic, use the same style. Just be sure to create your own version. 
  1. Student Feedback & Improve

This step is super important! When your students join in, it makes the objective really stick. They should help you make the main part of the anchor chart. It’s a great way to get them interested!

There are different ways to do this. One way is to write down exactly what your students say on the anchor chart. Basically, they’re telling you what to write. Another way is to use Post-it notes, which we like. Post-it notes come in lots of sizes now, so you can write something down and then stick it on the chart. Even better, let your students do this!

The main idea here is to get your students involved. If they help make the anchor chart, they’ll feel a connection to the objective. They can look back at it if they need to and are more likely to remember what the chart is all about.

  1. Right Placement

After you finish making your anchor chart, put it up in a spot where your students can see it easily and go back to it whenever they need it.

Popular Anchor Chart Types and Examples: 

  1. Interactive Anchor Chart:

An interactive anchor chart is something students work on during a lesson. It’s a way for them to share what they’ve learned. These charts are made so they can be used many times in a unit.

For instance, if the lesson is about finding the main idea and supporting details, the anchor chart might have a diagram where students can stick post-it notes with the main idea and details from a class reading.

  1. Procedural Anchor Charts:

Procedural anchor charts are there to help with classroom routines. They show how to do things like use an MP3 player at a listening centre or borrow a book from the classroom library. These charts might stay up for a longer time than other charts because they help with everyday tasks.

  1. Vocabulary Anchor Charts

This type of chart focuses on important words in a subject. It usually has pictures, meanings, and details to help students understand and use the words in their learning and when talking about school stuff.

  1. Strategy Charts

Strategy charts are common in classrooms and give students steps and strategies to follow for assigned tasks. They’re designed to help students by breaking down the process into steps. Strategy anchor charts often include examples done together in class, as well as tools like graphic organisers or acronyms that students learned during the lesson. 

  1. Classroom Procedure Charts

These charts remind students about the rules and expectations in the classroom, covering routines and procedures. They might also show how student work should be organised or completed before turning it in. Teachers often design anchor charts to clarify guidelines for note-taking or incorporating headings into assignments. The goal is to make it simple for students to organise their work and materials in a way that helps them successfully complete their tasks in the classroom.

  1. Content Anchor Charts

Content anchor charts show important information about a topic. They help students remember key details and concepts. For example, if students are learning about animals, a content anchor chart might have important facts about different types of animals. 

  1. Background Knowledge Anchor Charts

Background knowledge anchor charts help students connect what they already know to new information. These charts remind them of what they’ve learned before and how it relates to the current lesson. It’s like building on what they already understand.

  1. Articles Anchor Charts

Articles anchor charts provide guidance on understanding and working with articles, like in reading comprehension. They may include tips on finding main ideas, understanding details, or summarising information from articles.

  1. Graph Anchor Charts

Graph anchor charts help students read and interpret graphs. They break down the different parts of a graph and explain how to gather information from it. These charts make it easier for students to understand and analyse data visually.

  1. Diagram Anchor Charts

Diagram anchor charts show how to read and understand diagrams. Whether it’s a diagram in science or a map, these charts help students grasp the visual representation and extract meaningful information from it. They provide a step-by-step guide for interpreting diagrams effectively.

FAQs

  1. Why use anchor charts?

    They help the students by allowing them to “anchor” their thoughts to the charts. Throughout the day, students refer to these charts to check their work, validate their points, and use them as mentor texts for spelling and punctuation.

  2. When is an anchor chart necessary?

    An anchor chart is necessary whenever there’s something the teacher wants students to remember or refer to. Typically, this happens when introducing a topic, explaining an idea, or modelling something (like writing). The decision to create an anchor chart can also be driven by student feedback, as they often indicate when one is needed.

  3. When are anchor charts made?

    Anchor charts were initially made ahead of time with perfect handwriting and pictures. However, the realisation that students weren’t using them prompted a change in approach. Now, anchor charts are created on the spot based on student needs and feedback. The students play a crucial role in deciding when an anchor chart is necessary. 

  4. What to do with an anchor chart after a lesson?

    If an anchor chart is added to over several days, it stays on the easel for easy reference. Once no more additions are needed, it goes on the wall. Different areas of the wall may be designated for different content areas, depending on the teacher’s preference. The duration an anchor chart stays on the wall varies based on the topic, students’ needs, and ongoing units.
     

  5. How long should an anchor chart stay on the wall?

    There’s no set time limit. An anchor chart may stay on the wall as long as the topic is being discussed. Students sometimes communicate when they no longer need a particular anchor chart. Depending on the content and its ongoing relevance, some charts may stay up all year, while others may be taken down sooner. The decision is based on the content’s utility and the students’ evolving needs.

Last Updated on February 12, 2024

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