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  • Writer's pictureKristy Johnson

Effectively Use Anchor Charts in Math

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Using anchor charts in the classroom (and virtually) can help you effectively reach students on all levels by differentiating how you use them. Although I always use anchor charts in math, these ideas can be used in all subject areas.

I started using anchor charts routinely when I was told by my administration we needed to start using Workshop Model every day. I had no idea what this truly meant, but I new there was a mini lesson and everyone talked about anchor charts. However, it is so much more than that! Do you use workshop model in your classroom? You can check out my new online course Elementary Math Workshop Academy to learn all about workshop model and how it benefits your students! Continue reading to learn about using anchor charts in math!

Do It With your Students

For students who are on level or higher, you can create the anchor charts with the students. Start with a blank anchor chart, I love the Post-It ones, and then begin drawing and creating from scratch. I always use bright markers, like these Sharpie Flip Chart Markers. They have seemed to last the longest without fading on my walls. While you are writing your anchor chart, the students are doing the same in their notebooks. I always have them set up their notebooks a specific way to help them learn to be organized. Students turn their notebooks sideways, placing or drawing their anchor charts on the left side. On the right side, they complete the active engagement or practice problems they do in groups. When students are actually drawing out the anchor charts they are able to see step by step how to solve the problem and working it out along with you.

If you are virtually teaching, you could do this the same way on a live video. However, you could also record yourself creating the anchor chart and post that video for students to watch. This allows students on all levels to copy the notes because they are able to pause and re-watch if they need to, unlike when it is live. While I was hybrid teaching, even my students in the classroom were on their computers all day. I was recording my videos and they took notes while watching the recording.

Pre-Drawn & Copied

This method has seemed to be the favorite and the most time effective for

students across all levels. Drawing out your anchor charts ahead of time will make you spend more time preparing, but it will cut back on the time of your mini lesson allowing you to have more time for small groups with the students. You can also make them once and save them for the years to come. I take the time to create my anchor charts for the upcoming week. When I complete them, I take a picture and put them into a Google Slide presentation to fit two to a page. I print and copy those for the kiddos and they glue them into their journals. Once they have them glued in, we go over the large, original copy at the board. Going over them is much quicker than having the students copy them. Also, once I have the pictures of them, I can upload the slideshow onto our LMS which gives parents access to the notes when their child "did not get any" or has misplaced them.

For those of you that find quality in the students writing out their anchor charts and taking notes with you, it can be beneficial for the slow writers and the lower students if you pre-draw a copy and hand that to those students. Although I usually draw it out with my students, I always give a copy for my students with IEPs, 504’s, and usually my direct ESOL students. This allows them to focus on what I am doing and not focus on trying to get the notes down.

I have created anchor charts for 4th grade math, for the full year, as well as for 6th grade math. I also have them for most of 4th grade social studies units.

Reference Notes

My favorite part of using anchor charts with students is them being able to reference them. Don't get me wrong, I love math textbooks! HAHA. However, I really love my students being able to study notes they highlighted and doodled on. Notes in terms they can specifically understand and created or went over with me. These notes allow parents to support at home by studying with their child, versus scrambling other resources to learn the content. I try to lay them out step by step so anyone supporting could pick them up and go.


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