My 2 biggest pet peeves on anchor charts are...
- 1) It must be easy to read and focus on the important information. i.e. Simple is better.
- 2) Charts should be created with the students.
With the explosion of Pinterest I think our anchor chart expectations have morphed from simple (think back to your sample charts in Guiding Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pinnell) to creating great works of art with the students and I don't think you NEED to do that. I appreciate all those glorious charts on Pinterest, I really do. They clearly took time and artistic talent to create and color, but in the classroom...in the moment... I just go with it and get it done.
Here are a few samples of other math charts I created last year:
I created this with my students after we discovered all the ways to make a dollar using like coins. This was the product of our discussion and findings. I used the giant money die cuts to save myself some time (and make it look cool).
TIP: Use die cuts to add color and dimension to your chart. They tape right on and peel right off.
This is a good example of a poster I made AFTER a class discussion. The kids had so many good ideas I wanted to get it ALL on the poster. It was very busy with too many colors and too much info. My kids didn't use it. It was like information overload. So then, I simplified...
Guess which one my students preferred?
TIP: Keep your colors easy to read and your information direct and kid friendly.
Excuse the crinkles in this one. It got a little beat up during the classroom clean out. I often have students draw this same chart in their math journals while I am working on the poster. We come back and add vocabulary and models throughout the unit as needed.
TIP: If created with the students, you can even get "permission" to use short-cuts like just saying dimes and pennies. They know. You know. It's like secret code. That obviously makes it cooler.
This was actually a 3rd grade poster I saved. I did have the "brownies" pre-cut and ready to glue on the top during the lesson. I also had the table already created and we just filled it in during the lesson/discussion.
TIP: Set up titles and any organization for the chart ahead of time. Then you can just fill it in.
Eek! This one will change next year, because I just attended a whole day of professional development on fractions and the presenter suggested defining fractions as numbers between whole numbers, not simply saying they are part of a whole. Oops! So... go with this for an example of a math unit poster. Basically, it starts with defining the operation/math skill in the most simple terms, then identifying key vocabulary and models for the unit.
TIP: Using a similar set up for anchors helps students know how to read them and how to use them. They know where to look for the information they need.
Truly there is NOTHING special about this poster. It is simply vocabulary, but I wanted to explain why I only use 2 colors. I use two colors to make it easier to review and learn the vocabulary. It helps kids narrow down the choices while they are still learning and practicing these unknown words. For example I might say, "I'm thinking of a purple word that means two lines crossing." Students would be able to eliminated the red words immediately and look for the correct word to match my definition. More colors would narrow the choices too much. It's like the Goldilocks of color choices...two is just right.
TIP: Use 2 colors when listing vocabulary words.
So... those are my charts. They are not beautiful. They are not great works of art. They are definitely real and created in the moment. They are student friendly and easy to use which is my ultimate goal.
Several readers on my last post gave some great tips for anchor charts too.
Kaitlyn from Smiles and Sunshine says:
- I also try to block out sections that I know I will draw or do something special-and then work around it! When making a list, I try to do the bullet points a quick little picture-like a heart or star, so it looks interesting but doesn't take up a lot of time to do.
- A fun font always works for the title-the kids love it when I do titles, because they like it when I hand draw the letters wonky!
- I also post new charts directly above old ones-so by the end of the year, we have a nice stack! This way, my kids can look back at previous charts if they need help remembering something.
Jane from Learning in the Little Apple says:
- I've taken photos for students to add to their reflection journals.
Brilliant, right?! I think adding pictures of your anchors to journals would be very beneficial! Plus, once you take the pictures you could post to your classroom blog or email the pictures to parents to keep them in the loop. Wonky titles are also a fun way to add pizzazz to the chart while keeping the information clear and easy to read. Thank ladies for sharing your great ideas. Make sure to click the above links to go check out their awesome blogs.
I'd love to hear more. How do you keep your charts pretty and student friendly? Any tips for creating the "perfect" chart?