I’ve been sitting on a blog post for a week — all about end of year assessments. How these assessments can make us feel like we need to take steps backward or how much time they are taking away from our instruction. It was turning out to be quite preachy and my soap box was so high I was having difficulty coming down. So I decided to scratch that idea and focus on something that doesn’t get me so worked up.
Anchor charts! I’ve used anchor charts in every grade that I have taught. I will say, I’ve never seen my kids use them as much as this class has this year. We start the year working on 1- 2 letter sounds a week. We listen to songs, talk about the sound, and then create a list of words that begin with that letter. The students are then able to use these anchor charts in their writing. I draw “amazing” (to a 5 year old) illustrations for each word to make them easier to locate. I have found that this makes writing time feel more successful for my students and they feel in control of their learning. If they need to know how to spell a word, they will just ask – “Can I go look at the zoo words paper?” Or, “Is iguana on our i words paper?”
We have anchor charts for every letter of the alphabet, several word families, shapes, rhyming words, action words, adjectives, and now long vowel sounds. Many of our current charts do not have pictures to accompany the words. With the long vowel charts, they are picking up on the patterns that make these vowel sounds long. They are taking pride in their ability to read words without using pictures to help.
At first I was slightly hesitant about the students relying on these charts so heavily and even considered taking some of them down after Christmas. As you can imagine, they take up every inch of space I can find. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t take away this tool. And – I’ve come to see, that my students are still sounding out words. They don’t always go look on the charts. They are weening themselves from the anchor charts. This makes my heart swell with pride.