Saturday, July 17, 2010

Have You Tried Anchor Charts?

Kids have to retain so much new information that inevitably some of it will be lost. When I forget something during class, I tell the students that it must have floated out of my ear. Hey, it gets a laugh! Oh, and don’t anchors help keep things from floating away? Hmmm, we’re onto something here: the anchor chart. An anchor chart is a chart that you create as a class. It helps to ‘anchor’ information in student’s minds. I use a poster sized sticky note pad so that I can easily stick the chart on a wall or window.

Anchor charts can be used for a wide variety of subjects. In my second grade class I have charts for synonyms, antonyms, homophones, and homographs. I also have one for ‘number buddies’ (numbers that add up to ten), and ‘number twins’ (i.e. 7+7=14).

As an example, for language arts I wait to start a chart until we stumble across a synonym, antonym, homophone, or homograph while reading or… well, frankly it doesn’t matter what we’re doing at the time. Let’s say we stumbled over a homophone. I get excited and animated about the ‘discovery’, and grab my large sticky pad and sharpie. Then, we discuss what a homophone is. Next, I title the chart and write in the homophone that we stumbled across. Finally, I challenge students to see if they can think of any more. I write their words on the chart also. Once we’re at a good stopping place, I stick the paper to a wall for later reference.

Once you have a chart or two up in class, don’t be surprised if a student raises his hand excitedly to point out a new homophone, synonym etc. Add the new words to the existing chart. Word of caution here: students get very excited about this. If you’re not careful they will start blurting other examples out and you’ll never get back to your lesson. Set a limit.

Anchor charts are a fun way to help students retain information. The charts can be used for any subject. What might you use an anchor chart for? Now, if I could just keep information from floating out of my own ears.

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