If you have seen my classroom then you will notice that anchor charts are clearly a huge part of my classroom and a great way to support instruction. I use writing anchor charts to help support younger learners by providing visuals and guides, as they work independently with writing partners, or with the teacher.
What are Writing Anchor Charts? Essentially, they are visual prompts that provide students with information regarding their prior learning on a given topic. Anchor charts provide a scaffold to support students during guided practice or independent writing time.
How can Writing Anchor Charts be used to help your young writers feel successful? Here are a few anchor chart ideas that I use!
What do you expect?
Our very first anchor chart that we create together is what I expect writers to do when they go off to write independently, with a partner, or with a teacher. Teaching the writing process steps will help in each and every unit we study during the year. This is a chart that we create together, as we work to slowly transition from “we do” to “you do”.
Transitioning from One Genre to the Next
Early learners (Kinders – Second) really struggle shifting from one genre to the next during writing units. In particular, once they have a firm knowledge in writing about small moments or personal narratives, they struggle with shifting to teaching books that are full of facts. You might notice they still want to include introductions like, “One day I saw a spider…”. Creating a “t-chart” together and talking about the specific differences between the genres, is very useful. You can point and go back to this same chart throughout the unit to quickly reteach students who still struggle with this concept. This same chart can be recreated for all genres you teach to provide a smooth transition from one unit to the next.
Step by Step Directions
Many first graders and primary writers just need to know exactly what you want from them. Providing step by step directions for them to follow during independent writing time will be very helpful. Remember to add visual pictures or clues for younger students who can’t read. It also helps if you focus on ONE step at a time when kicking off the writers workshop.
Provide Catchy Visuals
Food or snacks will always hit home with most students. If you can relate a writing process to food, you will find success during writers workshop. Any mnemonic device tends to stick with students rather than memorizing a set of directions. We use OREO each time we teach opinion writing as a way to help remember the steps. Also, providing sentence starters or sentence stems at the bottom of the chart is very helpful for those that need more support.
From Books to Our Writing
Our final anchor chart type that we use in our classroom is pulled from our observation of books that we read. We learn about writing even during readers’ workshop. As we read, we notice craft moves, text features, genre characteristics, etc. and we jot them down on a chart. This allows higher level learners who are ready for a challenge to try these observations in their own writing. I might encourage a small group, “ Have you tried adding headings or keywords to this book that you wrote? Why don’t you give that a try today?” or “Could you include some sort of map to teach us more about your backyard?”.
No matter what type of anchor charts you use for your writers workshop, these visuals can be used to support the development of writing skills, and to bridge the gap between emergent writers to independent writers. Off you go! Grab some markers and chart paper and make a few for your classroom.