What Is An Anchor Chart And How To Make One?

Anchor charts are tools to support learning

As learning becomes more nuanced, it requires more teacher-created materials as opposed to buying lesson plans ready-made. This not only involves the teacher with the class material deeply but also supports a learning environment for both the educator and their student. 

An anchor chart becomes a form of a creative expression for the teachers; they get to add variations and have full control over creating a chart that will engage the students and target the specific learning outcome decided for the lesson. 

It does, however, also put pressure on a teacher to come up with new ways of going about the chart so the student doesn’t lose interest in the lesson because of monotony. This is why we have tried to give you a comprehensive explanation answering the questions of what is an anchor chart, how is it important within a classroom and how you can make an effective anchor chart.

We have mentioned tips to create an anchor chart and suggested a few samples that might get you started on incorporating these within your teaching. If you’re new to being a teacher, this can serve as a quick anchor chart 101 article to kickstart your career as an educator and make it a meaningful one

What Is An Anchor Chart?

We often see posters on class boards referencing a previous lesson or an activity the teacher did in the past few weeks. Think of anchor charts as posters because they also serve the purpose of displaying course information, but in a complex and more detailed manner. 

Teachers make anchor charts during lessons to reinforce a particular instruction. When a new concept is discussed in class the information is added to the chart by the instructor, new concepts or new information that is important to the lesson is continually added until the lesson finishes. The chart then acts as an anchor for the students’ learning in the future. The main purpose of an anchor chart is to act as a reinforcement for the lesson. 

Modern day learning has put a great emphasis on student-teacher interactions. When it comes to modeling a lesson, creating a learning strategy like an anchor chart, the methodology is no different. Increasingly, educators are making Anchor Charts that leave room for students to add the lessons they have learnt in class.

These anchor charts are designed in a way to include activities that increase interactions with students and as a collaborative effort, you and the student fill the blank spaces in the anchor chart. However, it is important that you come prepared with the anchor chart before the class starts so you can focus on filling it with your students. 

After the lesson is complete, and you feel that you have fully communicated and have been able to give adequate knowledge to students, it is time for you to prepare it as a place most visible to the students. This keeps them in the students’ line of vision and acts as a tool for visual learning. 

As you consistently post these charts as the term progresses, and make it accessible to students, it is going to attract their attention. Every so often, you might see them interact with these charts, but most importantly since they were made through a collaborative effort, students will have more of a context to them for questions, ideas and topics for class discussions. 

Tips To Help You

Make simple drawings as visual learning aids

  • Draw Pictures On Them

These pictures don’t have to be fancy or well-detailed. You can just draw simple pictures on your anchor chart, so that there is more than one way students can access knowledge on the specific subject. 

  • Use Color 

Make bullet points and stray away from keeping large chunks of texts on the anchor chart.  Instead use color pencils markers or paints to make it more attractive to students. 

  • Keep Them Neat And Simple 

The strategy to an effective anchor chart is to use simple language that can be retained by your students. Use graphics that aren’t blurred or pixilated and are clearly organized. Try your best to keep the chart short, with no irrelevant details or marks and arrows that can confuse or misdirect the student.

  • Be Tasteful 

Too many anchor charts can be an overkill. When you’re making an anchor chart, try to choose topics and learning objectives very carefully. Make them when you know you will need them. 

  • Borrowing Is Good

Going through other teachers’ anchor chart does not mean you’re being lazy about creating your own. Doing research to see what charts have been most effective for learning is a good step to take. If they’ve taught similar topics or you like how they design their charts, ask and borrow. 

Make you make your own chart out of the inspiration you took from these teachers. However, you can also find a plethora of sample anchor charts to inspire yours.

Borrow ideas from tested sources

Samples Of Anchor Charts

We have compiled a list of general Anchor charts that will compliment your lesson plans and affect student performance.

Anchor Chart For Point of Views

A point of view anchor chart guides students to identify different points of views in texts, eventually helping them use it in their own texts. Look for indicators like keywords, the pronouns used and the character’s level of insight provided. 

  • Talk about First, Second, Third person and the omniscient separately. 
  • Provide bullet points for what each would look like 
  • Highlight indicators that will help students identify all point of views
  • Choose texts from books students have discussed in class as examples for presenting these points of views.

Anchor Charts For Writing Tools

An overarching anchor chart that talks about essential writing tools can be used to effectively understand difficult parts of writing. You can assess the level of English writing skills in your students and create a chart according to that. 

You can broadly mention

  • Punctuation 
  • Articles 
  • Writing genres 
  • Sentence structures 

Anchor Charts For Class Management

To have a seamless classroom culture, create a chart that has instructions to help students manage their time. If, for example, someone finishes their class activity faster than the rest of the class the question is what will they do?

These charts should be constant reminders to the students without direct input from the teacher. These can be live-in charts that remain in the classroom throughout the year. After you are done demonstrating the lesson select a specific place that isn’t too out of reach but also leaves space for other more urgent charts. 

These can be gentle reminders for class management

Anchor Charts That Develop Over Time

These are perhaps the most interesting and engaging charts to prop up. Students tend to appreciate these more as they are interactive and have more of their input. 

It can be created for something like learning synonyms for certain everyday used words like say, think etc. Every so often students should be asked to add new words to the chart. This also means you will have to leave space on it for tags.

How To Use Anchor Charts In The Classroom

After you understand what is an anchor chart, how they are made, naturally the next question is how to use them in the classroom. We mentioned above that these charts shouldn’t be overused. That will become overwhelming for students and their concentration and retention will be affected. 

Here are a few ways you can incorporate anchor charts in the classroom.

Visualize it

Sometimes you will teach a topic that is well suited as a visual learning experience. Just grab a few markers and pens and get started on your masterpiece with students; it will end up being a fun activity for both you and your students. 

Make them name whatever you are drawing so they retain what it was and then ask them to label it later. 

Create A Bibliography or List Of References

Create a chart for reference materials for the class to be able to keep information straight. 

Basic math like addition, multiplication, subtraction or division could be demonstrated on the chart for later reference. 

Mentioned below are some references that can help create a holistic experience of learning for you and your students using anchor charts.

For any educator, anchor charts serve as tools that support student development, improving writing skills or just a better classroom environment. However, while the concept of these charts is attractive and incorporating them is a good step, remember they are used for the intent of knowledge retention. So, try to not churn out anchor charts upon anchor charts. Rather, keep the bigger picture in mind which is to anchor and internalize student knowledge. Don’t depend on them completely and try to diversify and incorporate different learning strategies to help your students learn.