Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tips for Using Anchor Charts in the 6th Grade Classroom

Last year was the first year I used anchor charts in my classroom. I had previously thought they were a lower-elementary tool, and that my 6th graders would've thought I was treating them like babies. How wrong I was!

Every time I would set up the easel and chart paper, they would get excited. I primarily used anchor charts in Writer's Workshop, and they loved it when they got to use fun pens or markers to copy them into their Writer's Notebooks. I have grand plans to use anchor charts even more this year. This year I will continue to use them in Writer's Workshop as well as during Reading and Grammar (which both spill into Writer's Workshop).

Here are a couple of tips for using anchor charts in no particular order:

1. Don't use Post-It chart paper unless you have plenty of display space to use them and don't really want to re-use the charts. I thought that Post-It chart paper would be the most convenient to use because I could stick the charts anywhere then. My room has very little display space, and I wanted to re-use a lot of my charts and got really frustrated with how the sticky part of the chart would stick to the other pages and make wrinkles and waste paper space, etc. I did end up putting some plain chart paper (plus a little glue) on the sticky parts of the Post-It paper to make them store better. But, I will be getting plain old chart paper for the 2013-2014 school year. You can be sure of that!

2. Have a sturdy display. I write ALL over my white boards, so those aren't always the best options for displaying anchor charts. I also don't have those handy cork strips above my boards to hang up the charts. So, I bought a cheap, flimsy easel at Staples to use. It's supposed to be easily transportable, so it falls apart all the time. I'm looking into using an IKEA clothes rack as a display cart of sorts. I got that idea from here. I still have to do a little more research on the feasibility of this plan. I'll just keep using my flimsy easel in the meantime because I'm an absolute cheapskate when it comes to purchasing things for my classroom.

3. Create as many anchor charts ahead of time as you can. It's really hard to write neatly or creatively on the chart paper when your class is watching. Plus, I have a really hard time writing neatly sideways, and I try to have my back to the class as little as possible. Also, if you have a flimsy display you will have a hard time writing neatly without it falling off (speaking from experience). My favorite way to prepare an anchor chart is on the floor with my can of Mr. Sketch scented markers at my side. Ahhh...is there anything better than scented Mr. Sketch?

4. Take pictures of all of your anchor charts so you can easily re-create the ones you don't save. I jutst did this yesterday while I was working in my classroom. I saved pretty much all of them last year because I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle them yet, and I'm extremely vain and love to admire my work (even when it's not perfect). Anyways, I threw a bunch of them away yesterday but took pictures of them before I did so I could re-create them next year. I saved the ones that still looked good but might still re-do them anyways.

5. Make them bold and colorful. I know it's hard to do this when you're crunched for time, but your kiddos will love you for it. Most kids love color and pay better attention when your teaching tools are colorful. Don't worry about having cutesy handwriting or stellar sketching skills. You could even print out words and clip art if you are really that obsessive about having the PERFECT classroom displays. I could be, but I'm too lazy. Lazy perfectionist at its finest. When you are creating the anchor chart with your class, which can be very effective, don't worry too much about this because the idea is to keep the class engaged.

6. Have a good storage system if you are planning to re-use them. This is a tip that I haven't really followed quite yet. I have very little storage in my classroom, so most of the ideas I've found on Pinterest don't quite work for me. But, if you do have great closets or deep cabinets, just type in "anchor chart storage" into the search bar in Pinterest. There are lots of great ideas for this out there.

Here are some of my better anchor charts from last year. I wasn't too original with any of them, so I'll try to post their original links under them.

Original Source: here

Original Source: here (plus an EXCELLENT lesson to go with it!)

Original Source: here (this is actually from a collection of excellent posters that are free on TpT!)

Original Source: here

Original Source: here (straight from Scholastic!)

Original Source: here (Miss Klohn's Classroom has some AMAZING anchor charts for middle school!)
I sadly can't find the link to this, but I think it may have come from Aimee Buckner's book Notebook Know-How. This is an excellent book to get you started on implementing the Writer's Notebook in the classroom. Let me know if you know where this chart came from. That lame thumb drawing...all me (my students made fun of me like crazy).

Well, hopefully this very long post was a least somewhat helpful to you. I know none of my ideas are original and I don't follow my own advice very well, but hey you can still learn something from this rambling. Thanks for stopping by!


  1. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE anchor charts! Kids love them too! I have some super ugly cabinets in my room and you better believe that I'm covering every single one of them with an anchor chart! Thanks so much for sharing these!

    Sweet in Seventh

    1. I like the idea of covering ugly cabinets with charts. I have a super ugly one that has worthless posters on it right now. Maybe I should cover it with anchor charts instead!

  2. Great advice! I found last year I'd "make" charts with each class on the SMARTboard and keep it up during class time. Then the next day a chart made by me would appear on our clothesline that was much neater and more colorful. This gave me time to do it neatly and take the time to think out the best ideas of both classes or what I wanted the class to take away from the discussion... sometimes, I had them made and laminated prior to discussions. If you laminate your charts you can use them year after year. Just get a big XL Ziploc bag :) Most of mine from last year still look great and my new students won't know... I'll need to remake some but How to Buzz or Reading is Thinking -- those never change :)

    My Shoe String
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    1. Great ideas! I wish I had a SMARTboard...but our tiny little private school is super broke. : ( I could modify the idea with a mini-dry-erase board maybe...


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