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I love creating charts with students each year during read aloud, mini-lessons, shares, and in every subject area. Charts are an amazing visual for students and a great way to engage students in the learning process. In my classroom, you won't see laminated charts, store-bought charts, or faded charts from previous years. Instead, you will see charts that are created with students that show their thinking, reinforce skills we are learning, and remind students of strategies they can use during our current units of study. If students are involved in the chart making process, they are more apt to actually use the charts instead of having the charts act as wallpaper in the classroom. Speaking of wallpaper, we don't want to overwhelm students with too many charts covering all spaces in the classroom, but want to post charts in a purposeful way that are relevant to current units of study.
Here are some of my key ideas about charts in classrooms:
- During units of study, add new thinking and learning to anchor charts to show the process of learning.
- During read aloud, model various ways to write about reading by creating charts, jotting down thinking in organized and meaningful ways, and make your thinking visible to students. Students will be able to transfer these writing about reading strategies into their own reader's notebooks.
- Take down charts that are no longer being referred to by either you or your students
- Create charts together with students to show thinking, strategies, and ideas. If a student shares an idea that you are writing on the chart, write that students' name next to his/her idea. Students love seeing their name on the chart and having their thinking honored. This is also a great way to encourage students to "piggyback" onto one another's thinking.
- Can create mini-charts (typed version of a class chart) for students to glue/tape into their notebooks as a reference. Mini-charts make our teaching accessible outside of the classroom and when charts are taken down. Creating miniature versions of classroom charts also diminished instructional time spent copying down information from a chart into notebooks.
- Charts make abstract ideas visible and are effective ways to leave tracks of instruction throughout the classroom and provide students with a constant reminder of our work as readers, writers, and life-long learners.