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I have a reference wall in my classroom. It includes phonics rules, checklists, our word wall and one of my newest loves, anchor charts. I introduce my anchor charts during my carpet time for several days, then when I feel like my class is comfortable with whatever concept is being taught, I hang it on our reference wall for kids to refer back to.

I started using anchor charts on a regular basis last year with my math lessons. It was great to have a visual for fraction to decimal conversion along with graphs to show those comparisons. It was also nice to be able to put examples and steps for solving those examples in one nice, neat place. I noticed that my students would use the current anchor chart frequently when doing independent lessons, so I started posting them instead of keeping them in my large flip book, tucked behind the next concept I would teach. It was great to see the kids figuring out which chart to use if they needed a reminder on how to complete an assignment.

Now I use them for every subject. It’s wonderful to be able to visually organize information on pretty much everything, post it to be useful and actually see it being used. The following are some different ways I use my anchor charts across my curriculum.

Language Arts
Since I still teach phonics to my combined second and third grade classroom, I will post each phonics rule, phonemic combinations, digraphs and trigraphs along with colorful illustrations and examples. I draw lots of pictures of the words so it’s easy for my students to learn the different sounds. I also use anchor charts with my grammar concepts such as distinguishing between nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and prepositional phrases; remembering how to make plurals and possessives; prefixes and suffixes; past, present and future tense verbs; helping verbs; and creating detailed sentences.

I use anchor charts for math concepts including multi-digit subtraction, multi-digit multiplication, multi-digit subtraction, long division, fractions, decimals and percents. I will also place anchor charts reviewing time, place value, money and simple graphs on our wall at the beginning of the year to jog students’ memories from the previous year.

Science and Social Studies
Our curriculum for science is thematic so I think these are the easiest anchor charts to create. For example if we are talking about life cycles then the anchor charts include several different life cycles from plants and animals along with all vocabulary and labels. Our anchor charts for social studies include an ongoing timeline for all major events, explorers and celebrations along with vocabulary, definitions and illustrations. I also include notable heroes, titles of books in our library and a few crazy facts from each time span.

When I introduce an anchor chart I always leave some blank space for my students to add their own ideas, words or illustrations to, allowing them to experiment in the application of whatever we are covering. This is also a great way for me to assess who really ‘gets it’ and who might need a bit more help.

How do you use anchor charts in your classroom?

Paula has a Masters degree in education with an emphasis on child development and child behavior....

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