August 3, 2013

Seeking Anchor Chart Suggestions

I have a confession to make: I don't do anchor charts. At least not like the rest of you do, according to Pinterest.

I have seen some super creative and super helpful anchor charts since, and it makes me want to take the plunge. But... I have a few questions/concerns with which I need your help first!

First of all, the OCD in me has a lot of anxiety about making and displaying charts without carefully planning out the use of space, wording, and images. I know that you're supposed to create these with your students, but I know myself enough to know that it will drive me crazy to see crooked lettering, awkward use of space, redundant wording, etc.

Also, what do you middle school teachers do about the fact that you have multiple classes with which you need to make the same(ish) chart? Do you seriously create a different chart with each class? I know you're not supposed to re-use an old chart because you want the students to have ownership of that information... but I'm supposed to do that 3 times a day? That seems like a waste of expensive chart paper!

Finally, how do you display the ever-growing library of anchor charts in your classroom? If it's important enough to make into an anchor chart (as opposed to simply putting it in our Interactive Notebooks), I'm assuming this is stuff we're going to use for more than just a week or two. I imagine my walls can get very cluttered very fast, and this also gives me anxiety.

The best solution I can come up with is to create digital anchor charts with each of my classes separately on the SMARTboard (assuming, of course, that I will have one in my next classroom), and then I can consolidate and transfer the information to chart paper at the end of the day. Is that insane?

I need your advice!

How do you, especially you middle school teachers, tackle anchor charts?


  1. Finally, someone understands my anxiety regarding anchor charts! Pinterest was making me feel guilty.

    In my limited use of them, I put them on my otherwise unused chalkboards. They stay there for the duration of the lesson/unit. I make the rough draft with them on a regular piece of paper - under the document camera - and then make the pretty "anchor chart" to display. That way, all the classes think the chart is THEIR chart. If it is important stuff for reference, I find room for them on my reference bulletin board.

    Elementary teachers are cringing as they read this:).

  2. I feel similar about anchor charts. I think they can be great for reference for some kids, but working with Special Education kiddos - I feel that these can be EXTREMELY overwhelming. I always think about if I were to create an anchor chart, I'm going to have to teach how to use the anchor chart...

    That being said, I do love they way they look aesthetically in classrooms. I do like to have some anchor charts for certain subjects, such as ELA. I also like to only post the chart when it is necessary. Check out this great anchor charts blog post from First Grade Fresh. You will find a great advice on using them in your classroom and creating them with your students. I also love this as a way to display anchor charts.

    Hope this helps!

    Mindful Rambles

  3. I make a smaller version on white copy paper with my document camera with each class. After school (or at home in front of the tv while I'm watching The Bachelorette), I'll make a bigger copy. I'll get out rulers, pencils for outlines, etc. just to make sure it's *perfect*. One of the versions I made in class goes into a binder that is placed in my library. Students also make their own version in their interactive notebooks. While it's still hanging in the room, it will be available in three places. I have tons of cabinets that are U.G.L.Y. I'm actually excited that the anchor charts will cover some of that yuckiness. Like others have said, once the unit is over or I need to take one down for space, it will probably go into the trash. They'll still have two other copies (binder, notebooks). If you really hate to throw the pretty ones away, you could always laminate them and store them in a bulletin board box. I've also used two large pieces of poster board stapled together. I can slide it between my filing cabinet and wall (where all my blank chart paper is stored) and it will stay flat. Then, you'd only have to remake the copy paper versions with each class the next year.

    1. Middle school and always has been different. 8th grade is even worst since they are getting ready for high school. anchor charts maybe too low for them, I will just have and see as the year goes on.

  4. I like creating anchor charts with my students. I will admit that I don't always make a chart for everything we cover, mine are not beautiful (I'm lucky to use colored markers), and they almost always have mark outs and scribbles! I will be teaching 3 ELA classes this year and I still plan on using anchor charts. I like having the charts out on display in my class, but I DONT like having things randomly stuck all over the walls! I am putting up a magnetic curtain rod for each class and will use binder rings to hold their charts. The charts will be different for each class, so I think it is important to do one with each class and then have them available for students to reference if they need it. I'm not sure if this will work out for me or if I'll like it, but I think it's worth a try!
    Polka Dot Lesson Plans

  5. I love anchor charts and use them a lot with my kids! I know it is a paint to make a new one for each class but they really need to process the information and digest it slowly too. Plus, they do take ownership of it. They will come up with different ideas and everything.

    If you don't want to use the expensive large post-it ones for each class then just use white bulletin board paper. We always have a huge roll of it somewhere and so you can just take off 5 or 6 sheets approximately the same size and just use a piece of Scotch tape. :)

    I post all of the anchor charts together for the unit on a wall. The other classes also enjoy seeing each others and the similarity and differences. Sometimes the wording on one chart helps them more than their own (weird, isn't it?). I love them. I even used them with my high schoolers. I don't think they are an elementary thing by any means. They are just our thinking and our digesting of the material.


  6. I'm not good with anchor charts and feel the same as you. On Pinterest, so many of them have great drawings and fun handwriting that I don't have. I'm glad I'm not alone in feeling inadequate about anchor charts. I would rather make them on a copy paper and Elmo with the class and then put them in a binder or a paper towel roll that spins them around. You can see an example at the bottom of this board: They can also have a personal copy in their class binders.


  7. Not sure if you have an Ipad or tablet, but there is this Free App called Doceri. It allows you to make the "Anchor Chart" and allows you to play it at your own pace--giving students a run down of the steps of the problem (math) or dates on a timeline (social studies). It is a really cool app.


    Lil Bit Country in the Classroom