Did you know that using anchor charts can improve your evaluation? Is it the year for your administrator to formally observe you and are you more than a little stressed about it? In this blog post I am going to share with you how anchor charts can help to improve your formal observation and summative evaluation feedback.
In my district, we have a rubric that our administrators use to evaluate us for our formal and summative observations. One of the items on that rubric states that the teacher will create a “physical or virtual learning environment that supports student learning.” So, when my administrator comes into my classroom she is looking at the walls. Yes, the walls. When she is checking out my google classroom from the comfort of her office or her home sofa she is looking for resources that I provide to support student learning. Anchor charts are a quick and easy way to fulfill this element of my evaluation or observation.
What is an anchor chart?
An anchor chart is essentially a poster that the teacher creates either with or without the help of the students. This poster usually contains information from previous lessons that “anchor” the students’ learning. There are all types of anchor charts. Mine generally contain lots of vocabulary words in action. They model the steps for various algorithms or define mathematical rules the students should follow. However, there are no limits to what you can use anchor charts for in your classroom. They are an opportunity to get creative.
What are the benefits of anchor charts?
While using anchor charts can improve your evaluation, there are many other reasons to use anchor charts at all grade levels. Here are a just a few.
- Anchor charts help students to “focus in” on what’s important about a topic.
- They are cheaper than posters you buy.
- Anchor charts are more easily readable than posters you buy.
- Students can refer to them often.
- They double as classroom décor.
- Anchor charts are useful for SPED students and EL students.
- They are useful for your visual learners.
- You can refer to them during a lesson.
- They are convenient and reusable.
The key is to “use” the anchor charts. If they aren’t being used then they are just wallpaper in your classroom. So refer to them often. I find I refer to them the most at the beginning of lessons when I am reviewing what we did the day before or when I know we will need a previously learned skill for our new learning of the day.
I stand by the anchor chart and direct students’ attention to it. If a student asks me a question I often say, “Did you look at the anchor chart?” I want them to use the resources available to them and not just depend on me to help them. One of my favorite things to see is a student staring at the wall during a test. I know they are visualizing in their mind’s eye the anchor chart that used to be there.
Anchor Charts in Elementary School v. Secondary School
In elementary schools many teachers like to build the anchor charts with their students. They can model their “thinking process” during the creation of the chart. They can also make adjustments to the chart based on student responses. The teacher then hangs it in the classroom and students can refer to it often. The anchor chart is a “living” document that can be modified if necessary.
However, in secondary schools, if I teach the same class 5 times a day, I don’t want to hang five versions of the same anchor chart on my wall. So, often teachers need to modify this process a bit. Some teachers develop the anchor chart with students during each class and then they synthesize the information onto one anchor chart that can be created after the lesson. But to be honest, most secondary teachers don’t do it this way. Teachers who have taught the same subject several years in a row, already have a fairly good idea of what information will need to be included on the anchor chart. Most secondary teachers make the anchor charts ahead of time and reuse them year to year. They become more for reminders and reference than for “building” knowledge. In my humble opinion, each teacher should find what works for them.
How can you use anchor charts in your learner management system?
Anchor Charts can also be useful in a digital classroom. The teacher can take pictures of the anchor charts in the physical classroom and then upload them to their learner management system. I use Google Classroom ™ and usually have a section for resources that my students can access such as videos and anchor charts. This allows the students to reference the anchor charts when they are at home working on an assignment.
Tips to Get You Started:
- Keep your supplies simple. Chart paper and markers are the basics.
- Make your anchor charts colorful.
- Write large enough that the chart can be read from across the room.
- Don’t include too much information on one chart. Otherwise, it just becomes cluttered and confusing.
- Use twine and clothespins to make your anchor charts easily removable during testing situations. When you run out of room you can also clip one anchor chart over another. Click here to see a visual of my clothesline.
- There are lots of example images of anchor charts on the internet. Just search for your topic and add the words “anchor chart.”
I hope this post has been helpful to you. Remember anchor charts can improve your evaluation by creating an environment that supports learning.
Please leave a comment and let me know how you use anchor charts in your classroom.