5 Tips for Creating Anchor Charts That Actually Engage Students

Do you use anchor charts in your classroom? If you don’t, hopefully you will soon after reading this! Creating anchor charts that involve your students is a great way to engage and reinforce your learning objectives. 

Let’s start out by making sure we understand what anchor charts are and why they are important.

What Are Anchor Charts?

Anchor charts are large, poster-sized visuals with information on them that you want your students to learn and retain. They don’t need to be perfectly drawn out. If you are involving your student’s imperfections, that is what makes them unique and memorable to your students.

Why Should I Use Anchor Charts in my Classroom?

Here are five reasons WHY you should be using anchor charts with your students.

why-anchor-charts

5 Steps to Creating Anchor Charts

I’ve broken down the process of making anchor charts into five simple steps. This is by no means the only way, but this is what works for me.

anchor-charts-simple-tips

1. Start with an objective.

First, you need to decide what your learning objective is. What would like your students to understand from your lesson or unit? Many times, the objective will coincide with a standard. For example, if you are focusing on the understanding of beginning, middle, and end in a story then that is what your objective would be.

city-green-b-m-e-anchor-chart

You might also make anchor charts that focus on classroom expectations. I make a lot of these during the first few weeks of school. They stay up in my classroom all year long. If I notice that my students are forgetting an expectation, I will refer to it.

rules-of-collaboration-anchor-chart

2. Make an outline or frame.

Framing our outlining your chart visually draws the eye to the inside of the anchor chart. This is a simple step and can be done ahead of time. First, you will need some markers. My favorite ones to use are Mr. Sketch Scented Markers. The colors are vibrant and they smell great!

anchor-chart-border

3. Add titles and headings.

Titles and heading are another piece of the anchor chart that can be done ahead of time. You can write them out, or have the titles and heading pre-printed and ready to go. I like to have mine printed and ready because I often print them onto bright paper to help make them stand out. If you laminate them, you can re-use them for other anchor charts later in the year.

anchor-chart-components

You can find a pack of pre-made anchor chart titles and headers in my Teacher Bag Store or TPT.

4. Get input from your students.

Now that you have the bones of your anchor chart done, you are ready to add the meat.

This step is probably the most important step! Involving your students in this step will internalize the objective you are trying to teach.

Your students should help you create the meat of the anchor chart. This is how you engage them!

This can be done in different ways. One way is to record what your students say directly onto the anchor chart. Basically, they are telling you what to write.

compare-and-contrast-anchor-chart

Another way this can be done is with post-it notes. This is my preferred method. Post-It notes come in so many sizes now that you can record a thought and then place it onto the chart. Or better yet, let your students do this!

anchor-chart-sticky-notes

The important take-away from this is to involve your students. If they are involved in making the anchor chart, they will have a connection to the objective. They can refer back to it if they need to, and will have a better chance of remembering what the chart is about.

5. Hang in a place where you can refer to it often.

Once you have your anchor chart done, hang it in a place where your students can see it and refer back to it. You may want to refer to it as well.

I refer to some of my expectation anchor charts weekly, just as a reminder of what is expected.

My preferred chart paper is the sticky back chart paper, so I can stick my anchor charts anywhere in my classroom. I also use a clothing rack and a magnetic curtain rod to hang them around the room.

So hopefully you are ready to engage your students with anchor charts. You can find inspiration for anchor charts on Pinterest and the book Smarter Charts.

simple-tips-for-anchor-charts

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