Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Classic Post: The Power of Anchor Charts

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Aug 21, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Lyssa SahadevanThis is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan that originally ran in December 2013. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here!

The Power of Anchor Charts

An anchor chart outlines or describes procedures, processes, and strategies on a particular theme or topic and is posted in the classroom for reference by students. Anchor charts are kind of the thing right now. That makes me super happy. I love a good anchor chart. I love thinking about what we are learning and building an anchor chart with my students. I love pointing them out to a student who needs a resource while working independently. I love sharing anchors with my colleagues. I love stumbling upon one and making a few adjustments so it will fit the needs of my students. I even have a whole Pinterest board for anchors I love!

All of this anchor-loving reminds me of a conversation I recently had with tablemates at a workshop. While I do not claim to be an anchor-chart expert and some did not agree with my responses, it was a great conversation! Here are the things they asked me, and my answers.

How do you get students to use the anchor charts?

I use the anchor chart for the unit/skill each day as a teaching tool and refer to it as a resource. When I hang the very first anchor chart during back-to-school, we have a conversation about how our walls are plain, but they will soon be filled with resources we can use. I act as though I am hanging a fine piece of artwork—“Wow, boys and girls, check out this resource you can use as you write!” I make a big deal of the chart that first day. After gaining the attention of the class, I share that Student A used a resource in our classroom. I have Student A walk over and point to the chart and explain. By fall, they’ve got it!

Do you laminate your anchor charts?

No. I premake some of the parts like sticky notes or the header, but I do not laminate. I want students to know we are creating this together as a resource for what we are learning right now, not as a reminder of what I did with last year’s class. Making them each year is a bit of work, but it is worth it!

So, no laminated charts in your room?

Ha! I have some store bought laminated charts with words for each month of the year. We change them out each month and add to them. The ABCs on my wall are store bought too.

If you hang every anchor chart, your room must be covered! How do you do it?

As a class, we have a conversation about our anchor charts at the end of a unit or the beginning of a new unit. Sometimes we decide they can stay, other times we agree we have mastered the skill. Some anchors, like our question words and temporal words, stay up all year. They need them and refer to them often. With that said, I do not always leave the decision up to my first-graders. There are times that a chart needs to go. I make a smaller version (index card) and provide that to students who need that resource. Chances are good that those students would not be checking the anchor anyway!

How do you manage all those charts?

I take pictures with my phone and print them. I then place the pictures in my unit plans so I can easily reference them next time. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that this printing and putting the charts where they belong may not happen until May! The actual charts are often sent home with students.

Do you go back and "fancy up" your anchor charts?

No. I try to think about their purpose. Is the anchor chart a decoration or a tool? Should I spend my time planning a small group, writing notes in their writing folders, or jazzing up a chart? Jazzing up a chart usually does not win! Of course, I do write them neatly. They are colorful, often have student samples with them, and they are placed in their perfect spot in our classroom as decided by the students. I am pretty proud of a chart I made for a famous penguin character. I traced it though and my class colored it! Maybe I should let them start jazzing up the anchors!

If you have anchor chart tips and tricks you'd like to share, write about them in our comment section! We'd love to hear your ideas!

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

Read More

Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Videos, Anchor Charts

Teaching Quotation Marks with Mrs. Wishy-Washy—with FREE download

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on May 7, 2014 10:56:00 AM

Lyssa SahadevanThis is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here!

Characters start talking in the earliest of readers—thank goodness! Conversation is taking place, and our readers need to be ready for it! While working with a group of students on fluency, we reread one of our Joy Cowley favorites, Wishy-Washy Tractor. The group loves when Mrs. Wishy-Washy becomes stuck in the mud! I pointed out the first set of quotation marks to the group and asked why they were there. 


“Oh, because she is talking,” they said. I then sent them on a quotation mark hunt in their books. They quickly noticed the words around the quotation marks, too. We created a list of words that we found. The list included said, cried, yelled, they, she, he, etc. We keep this list handy for reference and to add to later.

Sahadevan-6-1-200We reread the book together again and stopped each time we noticed the quotation marks. It was the perfect time to discuss who is speaking at each part of the text (CCSS.RL.1.6: Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text). We changed our voices to match the characters and started brainstorming things the characters might also say. We recorded a few on dry erase boards.

This group became slightly obsessed with quotation marks. They placed sticky notes on every page with quotation marks and started writing their own…well, trying to write their own! It is kind of like when we introduce the apostrophe-s and they add it to the end of every word!

During one of our next lessons, we found a few favorite pages and noticed where the quotation marks were and who was talking. I then wrote a sentence and had them guess who was talking. We did that several times. Each student then said a sentence and we guessed who was talking. The group favorite was (of course) the student mocking yours truly!

Sahadevan-6-2-200Depending on the levels of the students, students then wrote their own quotes and drew the character who was speaking. Some wrote one from their Mrs. Wishy-Washy book, using it as a resource. Others wrote sentences from different characters, while some wrote their own sentences and added their own quotation marks. We then shared with the group. They were a big hit and it was a perfect opportunity to review those foundational writing skills! 

I am so glad I slowed down and spent time with quotation marks early in the year so my readers (at so many different levels) could have an understanding of just what they mean AND how they impact the story. They hold someone’s words. They help us picture the story in our head and feel how the character feels. They are meant to be read as the character would say them. They are important and my readers know that! 

I’m including a copy of a few of the activity (different levels) we used to practice writing our own quotes. You can download them at the bottom of the page.

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

To download the free activity, click the image to the left below. To download an information sheet with more information about the series Joy Cowley Early Birds, which contains the books show in this post, click the image to the right.

Mrs. Wishy-Washy Quotation Marks Activity New Call-to-Action
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Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Videos, Anchor Charts

The Power of Anchor Charts

Posted by Lyssa Sahadevan on Dec 16, 2013 8:00:00 AM

Lyssa SahadevanThis is a guest blog post from first-grade teacher Lyssa Sahadevan. If you like what you read here, you can see more of Lyssa's posts here, or check out her own blog here!

The Power of Anchor Charts

An anchor chart outlines or describes procedures, processes, and strategies on a particular theme or topic and is posted in the classroom for reference by students. Anchor charts are kind of the thing right now. That makes me super happy. I love a good anchor chart. I love thinking about what we are learning and building an anchor chart with my students. I love pointing them out to a student who needs a resource while working independently. I love sharing anchors with my colleagues. I love stumbling upon one and making a few adjustments so it will fit the needs of my students. I even have a whole Pinterest board for anchors I love!

All of this anchor-loving reminds me of a conversation I recently had with tablemates at a workshop. While I do not claim to be an anchor-chart expert and some did not agree with my responses, it was a great conversation! Here are the things they asked me, and my answers.

How do you get students to use the anchor charts?

I use the anchor chart for the unit/skill each day as a teaching tool and refer to it as a resource. When I hang the very first anchor chart during back-to-school, we have a conversation about how our walls are plain, but they will soon be filled with resources we can use. I act as though I am hanging a fine piece of artwork—“Wow, boys and girls, check out this resource you can use as you write!” I make a big deal of the chart that first day. After gaining the attention of the class, I share that Student A used a resource in our classroom. I have Student A walk over and point to the chart and explain. By fall, they’ve got it!

Do you laminate your anchor charts?

No. I premake some of the parts like sticky notes or the header, but I do not laminate. I want students to know we are creating this together as a resource for what we are learning right now, not as a reminder of what I did with last year’s class. Making them each year is a bit of work, but it is worth it!

So, no laminated charts in your room?

Ha! I have some store bought laminated charts with words for each month of the year. We change them out each month and add to them. The ABCs on my wall are store bought too.

If you hang every anchor chart, your room must be covered! How do you do it?

As a class, we have a conversation about our anchor charts at the end of a unit or the beginning of a new unit. Sometimes we decide they can stay, other times we agree we have mastered the skill. Some anchors, like our question words and temporal words, stay up all year. They need them and refer to them often. With that said, I do not always leave the decision up to my first-graders. There are times that a chart needs to go. I make a smaller version (index card) and provide that to students who need that resource. Chances are good that those students would not be checking the anchor anyway!

How do you manage all those charts?

I take pictures with my phone and print them. I then place the pictures in my unit plans so I can easily reference them next time. In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that this printing and putting the charts where they belong may not happen until May! The actual charts are often sent home with students.

Do you go back and "fancy up" your anchor charts?

No. I try to think about their purpose. Is the anchor chart a decoration or a tool? Should I spend my time planning a small group, writing notes in their writing folders, or jazzing up a chart? Jazzing up a chart usually does not win! Of course, I do write them neatly. They are colorful, often have student samples with them, and they are placed in their perfect spot in our classroom as decided by the students. I am pretty proud of a chart I made for a famous penguin character. I traced it though and my class colored it! Maybe I should let them start jazzing up the anchors!

If you have anchor chart tips and tricks you'd like to share, write about them in our comment section! We'd love to hear your ideas!

~~~

Lyssa Sahadevan is a first-grade teacher in Marietta, GA. She loves reader's and writer's workshop, is a former Teacher of the Year, and shares ideas at www.mymommyreads.com.

~~~

Do you know a K–8 teacher whose creative classroom activities could use some well-deserved recognition? Have you, yourself, hit upon a strategy that you think works so well that you'd love to share it with others? Do you have a teaching blog or website with ideas you'd like to spread? Come stand in our Teacher Spotlight!

We're looking for teachers with unique, fun perspectives to feature on our blog. At least once a month, possibly more often, we want to inspire the teaching community with the innovative work of teachers who have a true passion for what they're doing. We'll broadcast your ideas here on our blog, distributing them through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Each teacher we choose will get some Hameray "goodies" from a series that fits their classroom needs—early literacy, oral language development, striving readers in upper grades, informational text, or literature.

To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

Read More

Topics: Lyssa Sahadevan, Videos, Anchor Charts

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