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Tips For Using Math Anchor Charts in the Classroom

This has been a busy month for math in my classroom! In this blog post, I want to share a favorite learning tool that can really be used with a variety of subjects - anchor charts. We've been making and using them during our daily math meeting. The kids help decide what to include and I do the writing on big chart paper. They are a great way to document student learning and serve as visual prompts that my students can refer to during their independent work.

Anchor Chart Examples

Here is a great anchor chart I am using with with my 5th grade students who are working with fractions:

In 3rd grade, we are working on multiplication right now. These anchor charts show the different ways they can model and solve multiplication problems - important information they need to be successful with our new learning.

Click the arrows to scroll and see some examples from my classroom:

What a great visual aid for my special education and intervention students!

I have found that one of the benefits of anchor charts is that they actually help with classroom management. They increase student engagement because students always have somewhere to look for help.

Another bonus - anchor charts are a great tool to display alongside your learning objective. They really help students SEE what the objective looks like.

After we make the big anchor chart together, the students copy it down in their math journals during math workshop. That way they have their very own anchor charts to use as a reference point even after they've been taken down from the walls. My students have been going a great job with and really enjoy referring back to their journals when needed. Once they realized that I will occasionally let them use their journals during quizzes, their handwriting suddenly got a lot neater!

If you have kids that struggle with the writing process, an alternative is take pictures of your anchor charts and print them out to go in your student notebooks.

Here's another chart we made for rounding numbers...

math anchor chart for rounding numbers

And another chart we made for area and perimeter:

These are just a few examples of the anchor charts I am using with my groups. They aren't the fancy and perfectly drawn ones you see on Instagram, but they're effective. I keep them hanging on one wall where the entire class can see them and the students can refer to them at any time. The important thing is that they contributed to the content themselves!

How to Make Effective Anchor Charts

Here are a few tips to consider when creating anchor charts in your classroom:

  • Use big chart paper so you have plenty of room to write.

  • Use color! In fact, us different colors when writing to highlight main points and to keep students' attention.

  • Add simple pictures that are easy to understand.

  • Hang them where they can easily be seen during independent practice.

  • Use bullet points or numbered lists.

  • Include the most important content - not every tiny detail.

  • Add a large title the reflects the big idea (Each chart should have a clear purpose).

How to Store and Display Anchor Charts

Now, once you and your students have made a lot of anchor charts, how do you hang or store them? I've seen a lot of different methods to display charts... binder rings, magnetic towel bars, clothespins, tape, etc. But my favorite way is to use these Command Toggle Hooks.

Just stick a couple on the wall and you can hang quite a few charts on them. Super easy and you can switch them out with very little effort.

The same hooks work equally well to store charts if you have some wall space in your closet. Another option I really like is the clothing hangers with clips (like you use for hanging skirts or pants). My classroom has a small coat closet with a bar. I can hang quite a lot of clip hangers in there and each clip hanger can hold dozens of anchor charts. I just label each hanger with the subject areas and/or grade levels that they are for (since I teach multiple grades).

If you aren't already using anchor charts, the good news is that you can start any time! They are an excellent way to document student learning and are one of the most valuable reference materials you can have in the classroom. And they aren't just for math!

Here are some of the other topics I am currently using anchor charts for in my various intervention groups:

  • Classroom procedures

  • Character traits

  • Parts of speech

  • Parts of a map

  • Letter of the week

  • Goods and services

  • Cause and effect

The possibilities are endless! So get out those markers and your chart paper and get started!


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