Saturday, August 24, 2013

5 Reasons Anchor Charts are Important

Anchor charts are not only important, they are crucial. Here is a discussion of 5 reasons anchor charts should be used in your classroom every day.
Back in the day…I would fill my classroom walls before the students even arrived with beautiful purchased charts for colors, months, numbers, character traits, reading strategies and marvel at the “pretty.”  Then the students and parents arrive to see all the “pretty” I had created.  But, “pretty is as pretty does,” right?  These charts just looked pretty.

Fast forward 25 years of teaching, one master’s in Early Childhood Education and one Reading Specialist Certificate…and I no longer purchase ANYTHING for display on my walls.  As a matter of fact, the walls are pretty bare when the students and parents first see it.

Student Created Anchor Charts

Now, the students help create what goes on the walls…and they are invested in the chart from the beginning.  I don’t have to “tell” students how to spell the color words, we practice using the charts we create or a simple pointing reminder lets the child create independence in writing.

Do I interactively write everything?  NO…that would just take too long.

Do I create everything from scratch?  NO…that would take too long.

Do I need to be prepared to make a good anchor chart?  YES, that’s the key.

1. Teach Expectations.
Anchor charts are not only important, they are crucial. Here is a discussion of 5 reasons anchor charts should be used in your classroom every day.

We use anchor charts to create the classroom expectations.  Some of the charts are on the picture above.  Our class rules, our rug rules, and our Reader's Workshop expectations are just a few anchor we create as a classroom community.

2. Use magazine pictures.
Anchor charts are not only important, they are crucial. Here is a discussion of 5 reasons anchor charts should be used in your classroom every day.

As a kindergarten teacher, my students always made their color, number, and shape charts.  I like to use old ladies magazines.  I mean, OLD ladies magazines…like Good Housekeeping© or Ladies Home Journal©.  I spend all summer in front of the television tearing out pictures from old magazines the ladies in my church collect for me.  I look for pictures that are big and are clear pictures for classroom use.  I collect pictures for colors, numbers, shapes, science concepts like solid, liquid, and gas, history concepts like the president or then and now pictures.

Students would interactively write 3 color words a day on white 12 x 18 construction paper, then sort the pictures for those colors.  To involve oral language, my students needed to create a complete sentence, “I found a green turtle.”

3. Repurpose Worksheets
Anchor charts are not only important, they are crucial. Here is a discussion of 5 reasons anchor charts should be used in your classroom every day.

In addition to the basic anchor charts, I used standard worksheets to create my own anchor charts.  To create a sequencing chart, use a worksheet, enlarge the pictures, during a whole group lesson, make a chart.  We also used character worksheets to determine who was in the story and who was not.  The concept of characters was not only common, it was understood.  Setting posters can be made the same way.  It's also fun to print copies of book covers and create a Fiction/Non-Fiction chart.

4. Make them use them.
Anchor charts are not only important, they are crucial. Here is a discussion of 5 reasons anchor charts should be used in your classroom every day.

Anchor charts need to help your class work independently.  Placing a value on anchor charts makes all the difference.  Having a center activity based on using an anchor chart is a great way to involve an anchor chart in a meaningful, directed activity.   One week make the anchor chart for position words (like 2 of the examples above), the next week students must recreate these charts in the math or science center.  Same with reusing materials or things plants need in the picture above. Good anchor charts add value to your room!

5. Make charts personal.
Anchor charts are not only important, they are crucial. Here is a discussion of 5 reasons anchor charts should be used in your classroom every day.

Sometimes, anchor charts are personal. Anchor Charts can also be made quickly for your classroom purposes only.  A moment exists in your classroom that needs to be addressed.  My owl and house anchor charts were made quickly out of a need that arose during a discussion in our class. My classroom was decorated with owls and the students wanted to write about owls.  We discussed the difference between ow and ou using two words they would use often.  A separate ow/ou chart was made during small group reading instruction when it was needed for a book.

Anchor charts are not only important, they are crucial to your classroom.

Tell me what anchor charts you use in your room.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Starting the year with Writing Centers

Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.
First, I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post...summer tends to be busier than I hope for...but, at least it was a fun busy.  Most recently I was able to stay at a friend's beach house for 5 days of nothing (including no wi-fi), and it was wonderful.  Now, on to writing.

Yes, I have a Writing Center. But, I also have a 4 Square Center, a First, Then, Last Center, Fab 5 Center and one with Configuration Boxes.  I also require writing in my Math Center, my Social Studies/Science Center, and my Squiggle Center.

Writing is one of the most important skills a student can acquire.  I ask students to write in almost all my centers…in some capacity.

Configuration Boxes

This center is definitely a process/product center. Once they understand what is expected, this can be an early independent center. Students start by using the soudn chart as topics. The predictable text makes even the earliest learner successful.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

4 Square

Sometimes going back helps you go forward.  This past year, my students were having difficulty writing 4 sentences on a topic.  I knew we had to go back to basics.  I introduced the 4 Square, developed by Gould and Gould, to my students.  We started with a simple pre-made 4 square.  They are instructed in a whole group setting to write a sentence with each box, starting with the top left, going to the top right, moving to the bottom left and going to the bottom right.  When the 4 squares are put in the center, students are allowed to choose a pre-made 4 square or use a word list to make a 4 square, but they always write 4 sentences on a topic.  4 squares MUST be taught as a pre-write, not a finished product.  As they are able, students can be taught to write more than one sentence for each block.  4 square writing is easily differentiated for students.  Students can be taught to write more than one sentence for each box.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

First, Then, Last Center

This is the silliest center ever, but the students are quickly writing 3 step stories.  I use sequencing puzzles found in most classrooms. Using the puzzles, I put several Ziploc bags in the center that contain 4 or 5 puzzle sets from the sequencing box.  Each numbered 1 through 5.  I provide story book paper.  First, students choose a bag.  Then, they put the puzzles together.  Last, they choose one puzzle and write 3 sentences.  Cards with the words, FIRST, THEN, and LAST are provided in the center.  Students love it!  They even choose to write the stories during our Wipe-Off Board Center.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

Fab 5

This center was also first discussed by Pat Pavelka.  This center is all about lists…Top 10 Colors, Top 10 Friends, Top 10 Red Things, etc.  Having taught kindergarten for many years, Top 10 was too hard or took too long…so along came Fab 5.  After my students write their list, they must choose one item on the list and write a sentence, or several sentences, about it.  To begin the school year, the students might write Fab 5 Friends or Fab 5 Colors.  As the year progresses, use Anchor Charts made as a whole group in the Fab 5/Top 10 Center.  Students can also use this center to Write The Room, finding words that begin or end with  a specific letter.  Another variation of this center is using a theme word, and  have the students find words around the room.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

Predictable Sentences

The center is just what it seems.  The students are allowed to choose word wall phrases and word cards to create sentences. The introduction of the Big 3 (capitals, spaces, and end marks) can make this center a top choice for independence. Each week students pick new word wall words.
Writing centers can be varied and independent, but they are very important. Making students write often creates successful writers.

I love teaching writing!  It is amazing to see the students develop right in front of your eyes.  Writing needs to be taught strategically and practiced often.  It is also important for students to find success early, so that they aren’t afraid to write.

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