That is what this blog post is all about....anchor charts and my love for them. When I first started teaching, I went to the teacher stores that sell workbooks, bulletin board paper and sets, and posters. Posters that I remember from when I was a child, like this one:
Who hasn't seen this poster at some point or another-and maybe you even have this poster in your classroom. One thing I've learned is that posters add color and decor to the room, but that's about it. The things we spend our precious, hard-earned money on end up being glorified wallpaper/dust-collectors if we do not teach our children to use them on a daily basis.
The solution? Anchor charts. Anchor charts are poster-sized chart paper that begins as a blank canvas, but turns into a chart paper with "documented discussion." While I am unsure who coined the term, "anchor charts," I know their reasoning behind the "anchor," because anchor charts anchor students' learning. For example, my class discussed the structural elements of poetry. We created an anchor chart full of the elements as we learned about each one. The chart took over a week to complete, but once it was finished it looked like this:
I do have a confession to make. I love anchor charts, especially the fancy ones I find on Pinterest with the perfect handwriting and cutesy illustrations, however when it comes time to create anchor charts with my class I neither have the time nor creativity to get mine to look as nice as the ones that have been repinned hundreds of times on Pinterest. How I feel:
However, I found a way around my dilemma by creating accessories for my anchor charts in advance. That way I can print, cut, and paste my way into generating a fancy anchor chart with my class! What I do to prepare is just create the title. This year I plan to laminate the anchor chart with the title and then use interactive elements such as sticky notes so that I can recreate the chart year after year with zero prep work such as these charts:
Reading Literature Standard 4.1:
"Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text. "
Referring to details and examples in the text is something I try to integrate as often as possible. I mainly do this by adding sticky notes to my anchor charts that allow myself to either model how to pull details and examples from the text and cite them on a sticky, or have my students practice the same once I've modeled it. I will say time and time again that this is what makes my anchor charts interactive and useful rather than pretty decor. If you look through the other anchor charts in this post you'll see my use of sticky notes.
For teaching inferring, I introduce the strategy with this anchor chart:
Reading Literature Standard 4.2:
a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text; summarize the
Theme is a topic our reading series doesn't introduce until the end of the year, so I introduce theme through this anchor chart. By the time we're finished, it looks busy. To anchor student learning even further, add student names to the chart next to an idea they share during class. In the past I've put their name next to a bullet point or at the bottom of a sticky note as pictured. It really makes the chart personal and students take more ownership over their learning.
The dynamics of the anchor chart changes as students find examples of the given themes in their independent reading. I usually begin by adding my own example on a sticky note using a class read aloud, as students get the concept I have them replace my sticky note with their own. For next year, my theme anchor chart is all set and ready to go, all I need to do is replace the sticky notes and voila!
Summarizing is a skill we revisit all. the. time. so I had to make an anchor chart that was able to be updated over and over:
Reading Literature Standard 4.3:
"Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character’s thoughts, words, or actions)."
I love the "FAST" acronym when teaching character analysis. It stands for the character's feelings, actions, sayings, and thoughts. Even though out of order, this is the anchor chart I use to teach this acronym:
The sticky notes is where we write the inferred trait (i.e. responsible) and evidence from the text that supports this trait.
This year we will dig a little deeper into citing evidence from the text with our generic Facebook-ish anchor chart:
I left the basic silhouette of a character as the "photo" so that I could have the students use the text to help add more details to her face. (I also have a boy silhouette for male characters.) In the Status section, I left a place for two statuses one on how the character is feeling and one on what she is thinking. I have the students come up with possible ideas using these thinking stems: "(character's name) is feeling _______ I know this because ____________(text evidence)." Many times my kids pull basic feelings the character may be feeling with no evidence to back it up. Using that thinking stem really pushes them to think about what is going on in the text. The Location part of the anchor chart identifies the setting of the text.
Below the Statuses and Location are the "Wall Posts" that is an area for the students to begin making inferences about the character based on evidence from the text. I left ample amount of room for evidence from the text since this is a skill my students need practice with. I have them cite the page they found the evidence.
Reading Literature Standard 4.4: Greek Mythology Allusions
the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those
that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).
This standard has had many fourth grade teachers going berserk trying to find Greek mythology content appropriate for fourth grade. Since there isn't a lot out there on words that allude to characters in Greek mythology, I created this handy dandy anchor chart:
Each time we read a myth we add the words or phrases that allude to the character in the myth to the chart. Along with the meaning, and a short summary of the myth in which it originated from. My kids are always shocked to find out that so many words in the English language allude to mythological characters from the past. I find it interesting as well!
Reading Literature Standard 4.5: Prose, Poetry, & Drama
major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural
elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of
characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or
speaking about a text."
I teach this standard by introducing prose with an anchor chart using a variety of examples:
I also create anchor charts on the structural elements of poetry and drama so students are able to identify each genre:
Get this iPoet anchor chart set HERE.
Reading Literature Standard 4.6: Point of View
and contrast the point of view from which different stories are narrated,
including the difference between first- and third-person narrations.
I begin to teach this standard by introducing the concept of Point of View with this anchor chart:
The blue and pink sticky notes represent where students will find examples and place them under first or third person. This makes the chart interactive, and once students get it, the anchor chart is consistently updated throughout the year-my kids pretty much take over the chart! For fourth grade, the standards do not emphasize 3rd person omniscient and limited, but I do show them the difference. My main goal, however, is to make sure they understand the difference between first and third person point of view.
Reading Literature Standard 4.7:
connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral
presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific
descriptions and directions in the text.
This is a fun standard in my opinion, we read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz then watch the movie. I am excited, because now Oz the Great and Powerful is a newer version from a different point of view which leads to a further discussion. I am looking forward to having my students make connections between the movies and text. I keep the same anchor chart for comparing the text of a story and the visual presentation of the text, and just use a sentence strip and sticky notes to save paper. Here is what it looks like blank:
Sometimes I record student's thinking on the sticky notes and add them myself, sometimes when we have more time I have each student write one thing about the movie and one thing about the text on two separate sticky notes and have them add to the chart. (Make sure you have enough space if you choose to do it this way!)
Reading Literature Standard 4.9:
"Compare and contrast the treatment of
similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of
events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from
I teach this standard by creating an anchor chart that keeps an ongoing record of various stories, myths, and traditional lit that we read together as a class. There are two keys to making this anchor chart successful. 1st- Make sure you are reading a variety of stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures. The 2nd key to making this work is the ongoing discussions it should provide. Really try to bring out those higher order thinking skills when engaging in a discussion comparing and contrasting the opposition of good and evil in the different stories you've read. I also have my students keep a log similar to the anchor chart in their reader's notebooks.
RL 4.9 is a mouthful and can't be taught in just one lesson. I also have my students compare and contrast patterns of events through this anchor chart: (full photo of anchor chart pictured above)
We recognize that almost all stories have a character that is on a "quest" even the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We use sticky notes throughout the year each time a student (or I model) is able to identify the five elements of a quest. The comparing and contrasting happens once you've documented at least 2 stories. Remember- the key to this is reading a variety of stories and myths from different cultures as the standards state.
Reading Literature Standard 4.10:
"By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, in the grades 4–5 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range. "
The tenth reading standard to me, is like a culmination of all the reading strategies you teach your students that they then apply to their independent reading. This anchor chart expresses RL 4.10:
If you made it all the way here to the end, then thank you for sticking with me for part one of documenting the Common Core State Standards with Anchor Charts Part One. Stay tuned for Part Two featuring my anchor charts for the Informational Text Standards. If you loved the anchor charts you can snag them all in one big bundle here: