Saturday, August 9, 2014

Preparing My Classroom: Anchor Charts to Reinforce Learning

In PREVIOUS YEARS, I have spent a lot of time hanging signage and decor throughout my classroom that never changes.  I hang posters of my favorite inspirational quotes, and they stay there all year.  I rarely refer to them or utilize them in the learning process.

THIS YEAR, I wanted to use less of this type of signage in order to allow room for more dynamic displays that change throughout the year according to our learning.  Just to be clear, I love my inspirational quotes still.  I still plan on hanging some of them around the room.  I just plan on having less of them.  Instead, I have dedicated one entire wall of my classroom as a space to hang anchor charts which can change according to the needs of my class.

According to EngageNY (one of my favorite resources for great lessons right now), there are THREE BENEFITS to using anchor charts in the classroom.

  1. Anchor charts allow "teachers and students to make thinking visible by recording content, strategies, processes, cues, and guidelines during the learning process."
  2. "Posting anchor charts keeps relevant and current learning accessible to students to remind them of prior learning and to enable them to make connections as new learning happens."
  3. "Students refer to the charts and use them as tools as they answer questions, expand ideas, or contribute to discussions and problem-solving in class." From
I really love anchor charts, but I have rarely used them in the middle school setting because I have not ever had a space in my classroom to display them purposefully.  When I have used them in the past, it also always bothered me how it tended to look messy hanging on the wall.  I like having a cute room (Heck! I have to spend 8+ hours a day there so I better like the way it looks!), and I always felt like the anchor charts took away from the cuteness.  So, I thought of a way to display my anchor charts while still maintaining some cuteness and neatness to the space.

I hung one anchor chart on the wall with tape, and I surrounded it with a bulletin board border leaving a very small margin.  This way, I can remove and hang the anchor charts without covering up the border very much.  I then repeated this process four times.

Now, I have space for four anchor charts.  Some anchor charts will probably stay here for longer periods like an anchor chart with group work norms.  Other anchor charts will probably change out week by week or unit by unit like "integer operation rules" or "how to solve a one-step equation."

I know that I will be able to refer to these displays frequently to reinforce procedures and math concepts.  I think this will be a better use of my space then a wall of inspirational quotes which I neglect mentioning on a regular basis.  Again, I still have other quotes around the room... like this HUGE one (I moved rooms this summer and haven't gotten to put a border around this sign since I re-hung it).

I just won't have as many!

Here are my four anchor charts ready for an activity I will be doing the first day of school...

Do you use anchor charts in the middle school classroom?  Are there any other traditionally "elementary" instructional strategies you find useful in the middle school classroom?

Mrs. Fine


  1. Hi, Ms. Fine.
    This is officially my first year in junior high so, I will get back to you later about the second question. My goal is to bring some of my elementary school skills over to the secondary level. I have had the opportunity to teach my grade level and subject matter on the elementary level. It's going to be an interesting year.

  2. I'll be interested to hear how you incorporate those skills! I feel like we sometimes drop things that work for no apparent reason. Why stop using anchor charts when they are an effective tool?

  3. I've never been a huge fan of completely decorating my classroom before students arrive. I could see students taking more ownership in their learning as they add to the anchor charts throughout the year. The charts could emphasize strategies, math vocabulary, procedures, and pbl activities as the year progresses. What a practical idea!

  4. I like the idea of putting borders around the chart. I think it gives them importance. Hmm...wonder where I can do that in my classroom. Thanks for sharing!