I’m excited to share a few anchor chart tips that will improve your students’ learning!

Anchor charts are student/teacher-made poster-sized visuals that highlight essential content from a lesson or specific unit of study. Placed in highly visible, accessible places such as walls, doors, and bulletin boards, they serve as a visual reference for students (and teachers) to use when referring to a specific topic during teaching and learning.

Think about this for a moment…

Have you ever had that student that keeps asking the same question over and over even though you have said the answer or covered the topic A MILLION TIMES!?

Geez, little one, really?!

Are how about that kid who always second guesses himself even though he really knows the right answer? (smarty pants, uh?)

Well, my teacher friends, I’ve got a little magic potion to zap that problem away!

Anchor charts! They’re your new co-pilot. They help you drive instruction and teach your little punkins to be more independent in their learning.

This mini guide contains all of the anchor chart tips I wish I’d known as a first-year teacher. I give you all my little secrets.

So let’s get with it!

What’s the Primary Purpose of Anchor Charts?

Anchor charts reinforce skills, strategies, or procedures that students need to master.

If a student is working on adding fractions and forgets some of the steps, he or she can refer to an anchor chart about adding fractions for help.



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Who Should Use Anchor Charts?

Anchor charts are perfect for all grade levels (elementary to high school) and subject areas! Integrating literacy with the content areas is much easier using them.

How to Make Anchor Charts

You want your anchor charts to be visually appealing and most importantly, practical!

Make sure to have these materials on hand:

Thick, permanent markers in a variety of bright colors
• Crayons
• Chart paper
• Extras you may want or need
• A pinch of artistry

That’s it!

How NOT to Use Anchor Charts

Ok. Here comes the juicy part.  I’m gonna let you in on a BIG SECRET:

The effectiveness of anchor charts is in how you use them with students. How you present anchor charts to students will determine how well they interact with and learn from them throughout the year.

First let me explain what you SHOULDN’T DO.

You make a beautiful anchor chart at home or during your planning time, and then when teaching, you tell students, “Look, here’s the information. Remember it.”

Afterwards, you place it on the wall (or worse, tuck it away somewhere) where it rests in peace to never again be used.

Sorry folks! But this is the wrong use of anchor charts!

Look, I’ll be honest. I’ve done exactly what I just suggested you not do. And yes, some of my students did learn that way.

BUT I discovered another way that’s way more effective and produces better results! And it saves time! Woo who! (happy dance).

So what’s the secret to effective anchor charts?

Create Anchor Charts with Students!

Anchor charts are meant to be teaching and learning tools that help students internalize learning concepts, so include them as part of your lesson.

Place Value Anchor Chart

If you’re doing a mini-lesson on one of the six traits of writing, let’s say… how to write a good lead, have students brainstorm different types of leads that they have prior knowledge of.

Write this information on an anchor chart!  Do this preferably during guided practice or the end-of-lesson summary. This way, students work collaboratively with their peers and the teacher, and as a result they have more ownership of the chart.

Now, I’m not saying to begin teaching with only a blank piece of chart paper. It’s fine to have a main picture or a few images, and/or the title drawn on the chart before students add their contributions (a frame so to speak), but remember…

Students being part of the creation of the anchor chart in some significant way is SUPER IMPORTANT for their learning process.

Have them do the thinking and brainstorming while you record their responses, guiding them and adding your “suggestions” for the chart here and there.

If you really can’t bear the thought of an obviously “kids-done” poster with all of its imperfections, then make a frame/skeleton, and have students use sticky notes to add their responses and ideas.  Voila!

The above suggestions are some of my most-emphasized anchor chart tips!

There’s One More Secret You Need to Know about Anchor Charts

After creating a chart, put it in a visible place where students can refer to it as needed.

The chart (including all the others) should become a regular part of the resources used within the components of reader’s and writer’s workshop

Keep the chart posted until every student has mastered the concept, and remind students often to refer to it as needed.

This step is SO IMPORTANT!  Many students have to be taught to refer back to reference materials, even if those resources are on the wall!

If you begin using anchor charts from the first week of school and discuss with students the expectations of using them, within time, your students will understand how they work and use them effortlessly! SCORE!

But you have to be consistent with reminding them. Many of them will not do so automatically, and some will even think it’s cheating (lol!). 

If after some weeks or months you still have one or two students having a hard time mastering a concept, take a photo of the anchor chart, print it, and place the printout in the students’ notebook as a reference.

Works great! (this method also works well if you have limited wall space).

For students struggling to master certain concepts, make sure you’re documenting their progress in some way.  If it’s an area of literacy they’re having trouble with, this list of meaningful reading and writing report card comments should save you some time.

More Anchor Chart Tips & Tricks

  • Some anchor charts serve a year-round purpose such as classroom procedures and reading strategies. Add, delete, or modify information as needed. No need to create a brand new chart each time.
  • Graphic organizers make great anchor charts! Create templates and use post-its to add and delete information. This way, you can use them repeatedly throughout the year.

Important Anchor Chart Tip! Keep your charts simple. They’re for students’ use first and foremost. “Cuteness” falls behind that.

  • Anchor charts are great for interactive writing. Interactive writing is students “sharing the pen” with the teacher. This writing method improves students’ penmanship, grammar, spelling, and overall writing skills.
  • Don’t recycle the same charts from year to year. The charts you use each year should depend on the needs of your class. If your class is strong in a particular concept, you may not have a chart for that skill. Remember, anchor charts are meant to reinforce needed skills.
  • Once students have mastered a concept, take the anchor chart down, but don’t throw it away. Use it as a center activity or keep all of them in a space in the classroom to be used by students for special projects or activities.
  • Anchor charts are usually chart-paper sized, but they don’t have to be. Depending on the information, a half-sheet of chart paper can work just fine. Just make sure that the writing is legible, clear, and easily seen wherever it is placed in the classroom.
  • If you teach elementary school, organize your charts on the wall by subject areas. If you teach middle or secondary, categorize them by units or concepts. This way, students can easily locate what they need. This tip is just one of many clever classroom organization ideas!
  • Anchor charts can be used for any part of your lesson. Use them as a mini-lesson, guided practice, or informal assessment.

Create Anchor Charts More Effectively!

Download A FREE Anchor Chart Checklist!

(English & Spanish versions)

As a subscriber, you’ll also get 24/7 Access to the FREE content library, sneak peeks of new featured products, and occasional promotional emails.

Where To Get More Anchor Chart Tips

1. My number one go-to is other teachers! I bet your colleagues have some great ideas!

2. If you’re creative and have time to spare, materialize your own original anchor chart ideas!  Just think about your teaching objectives and what specific skills your kiddos need in order to master them. Go from there.


Final Thoughts

As you can tell by my anchor charts, I’m no artist.

BUT, by no later than the third month of school, my second graders were pros at using them for their learning!

Anchor charts facilitated them in becoming independent learners and problem solvers.  And the cherry on top was that their reading and math scores improved significantly! (cabbage patch dance!!).

I hope these anchor chart tips were useful to you.

Good luck with your anchor chart journey!



anchor chart tips


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