Thursday, November 29, 2012

Anchor Chart Dilemma

Once conferences are over, I've always felt that it's a bit like New Year's Day.  We've wrapped up one marking period and are moving forward with new goals for the kids, and I love that feeling.  Along with this is the cleaning up that I like to do in my room.  I mean literally cleaning up things that need to be filed, taking the labels off the desks of the students who can't stop themselves for picking at them, taking down old student work and putting up more current projects, and filing until I go blind.

One other thing I like (and need) to do is take down anchor charts that are not currently needed and put up our newer ones.  Here's my dilemma.  The way that my room is set up, I have very little wall or magnetic whiteboard space for hanging charts.  The biggest issues are that my Smartboard takes up the majority of my whiteboard space, the furniture covers a lot of the bulletin boards, and I am not allowed to run any clothesline through the room as per the fire marshall. I have a wall of large windows that I can put charts in, so that's one space I will be using, but otherwise I'm at a bit of a loss. I've been combing through the most excellent chartchums blog for ideas, and there are some nice posts about alternative spaces to put mini-charts.

One idea I like is the idea of charts of different sizes.  Here's a picture from chartchums that shows the idea (not my picture--100% theirs):
See those short and narrow ones in the middle there?  While I can't do the clothesline, I'm going to see if I can redo some of my charts with less info on them and put them into these smaller formats. I also need to evaluate whether or not I can squeeze some in lower down on the walls, like that one there in the lower left corner, though I think this may be a primary grades classroom.  My kiddos are tall, so would they see them enough to make them useful?  Dunno. There is no point if they are not useful to kids, right? I also like this presentation table chart idea (again, their pic):
They suggest that these can go on tables. I'm going to check them out at Staples this weekend, but again, they aren't on the wall.  This will mean a convo with my principal about how they become useful to kids in another way if they are close to them. Independence, everyone! Also, there is a cheaper alternative if the other ones are too expensive:
Hmmm...lots of ideas, but as I'm writing this, I realize that my kids are at desks pushed together to make tables, not actual tables as in the above picture. Opening their desks would knock these babies right off. What to do, what to do.  I should add that given these limitations, I have generally opted to put up student work, because they work so hard and deserve to show this great work off. Maybe I need to re-imagine the way I do this as well.  I need an interior decorator/organizational specialist to come in and help me :)

Click on any of the pics above to head over to the chartchums blog, because it is all sorts of awesome.  They even wrote a book about charts. I'd love to hear other ideas and solutions if you have similar wall space issues in your classrooms!


  1. I'm lucky to have some bullentin boards that I can hang my charts from. However, my problem is that I want the kids to have access to all the information we've learned so far (and the last few days of our Literacy series reviews the previous theme's skill).

    I just put one chart on top of another, and I've taught the kids that they can lift up the bottoms of the chart to get the information they need. Maybe there is one place in your room where you could stack the charts on top of another?

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

  2. Replies
    1. You can bet on it. Now that conferences are over, I will be Spending time after school trying to figure it out :)

  3. This is a little weird. I was actually talking about almost the same dilemma with my principal yesterday! We decided that I am going to try and hang some of the ones I want to keep up that we use regularly on the ceiling. Wild idea, right? We might also try to hand some paperclip strings from the ceiling to hang a few. I will be checking your links too!


    1. Interesting solution! I have crazy high ceilings, but I wonder if the custodian could help me out with this... Let me know if you find something on chartchums that I missed!

  4. I have had some success with having each student have an anchor charts binder. The idea is you only post the charts you are using that week, and each student has a copy of each chart that they place in a binder in their desk. I also had a copy in our classroom library "Resources" section. To appease administrators I hung a sign on the wall that said something like, "Stuck? Check your charts. They're in your desk!" And the sign had a photo of a student binder. I teach the primary grade right now but I still use the same idea for my word wall. Every student has a word wall book in their desk, and my "word wall" is a piece of legal sized paper hanging over my writing process bulletin board with a reminder to check their word wall books if they need to spell a word. My administrators LOVE that every student can see the supports they need when they need them, and it helps keeps my walls a bit less over stimulating.

    Good Luck!