My Working, Growing Anchor Chart

Anchor charts can be used for classroom management and to document learning with the purpose to navigate students toward success with reminders and visuals. I’ve embraced the charts and so have my students!

This year I decided to try something new, a living, growing anchor chart!

Anchor Charts for Daysss

I started teaching in an elementary classroom, and I realized how important anchor charts are to hold ideas and make connections for my EL students, for all learners. Then I moved to a middle school math classroom… my wall space is a little more limited because for the first time I have windows and a door and a SmartBoard and so much whiteboard space.

I developed some word wall cards for the Open Up Resources 6-8 Math, which took up all of my bulletin board space. Since taking on a Guru position for Open Up Resources, I’ve been fortunate to engage in a lot of self-reflection in my teaching practices. This year in these reflections, I’ve been asking myself… Where could I find space to record our thinking? What learning is displayed in my classroom? About that word wall… How often to we even look at it? We practice using our words like mathematicians, but do we ever really interact with that display? What else could I do with it to help us build ideas?

And then Martin Joyce began talking about the importance of anchor charts in our Twitter chats and Zoom meetings, which were really appealing to me and my current situation. And then I saw this tweet by Elizabeth Harwell

Okay! Anchor charts! So I scrapped it. No more word wall. Gone. We weren’t using it as I’d imagined anyway… Why waste the space? What did I have to lose?

An Anchor Chart was Born

So, my word wall was gone. I hauled the butcher paper up to my classroom (only dropping it on my toe once) and enlisted some students to help me cover my bulletin board. I began recreating Ms. Harwell’s masterpieces, connecting ideas with arrows and color. (Shoutout to Open Up Resources 6-8 Math for its coherence!)

And then I threw it out there to the Twitter and Facebook communities for feedback! I realized I was onto something!

Why I Love Our Living Anchor Chart

  • It supports my instruction. During class and new learning, we can connect to prior learning. (Oh, a diameter is twice the length of a radius? What equation shows that relationship? What?! There’s a constant of proportionality? Wow!)
  • It’s an awesome summary of our learning. All of the different tasks and investigations are so rich, and the growing anchor chart streamlines all of the information that we know to be true.
  • The purposeful color is engaging and shows connectedness. Examples: Most of the green notes on my board relate to finding the constant of proportionality. In our known equations, variables sometimes are colored to match visuals and images.
  • Vocabulary is used and displayed, along with examples and visuals.
  • My students enjoy it! I enjoy creating it! (Who doesn’t enjoy writing with Mr. Sketch markers?)

Recently a student mentioned, “We’ve learned so much! Do you think someone who isn’t in our class would understand what all of that means?” Hmmm…

Unit 3 Chart Update

We just added some information as we investigate circles in our Open Up Resources 6-8 Math tasks. Here’s our most recent capture! What are your thoughts?


Unit 4 Chart Update

We reasoned about proportional relationships and percentages in our Open Up Resources 6-8 Math tasks. Here’s a snap of our hard work!

Unit 4.jpg

Unit 5 Chart Update

We investigated signed numbers and arithmetic! Check it out!



Unit 6 Chart Update

This was a giant unit, where we solved equations and inequalities! I decided to combine both ideas in our anchor chart work (to save space and make connections).


18 thoughts on “My Working, Growing Anchor Chart

  1. My first reaction was “Wow! If I had all that wall space, I’d want whiteboards or reusable chart paper there so kids could stand and interact while engaging in the openupresources tasks.” I love the idea of a working record of learning. Is there much opportunity for kids to be up and you can see their thinking as they share strategies? Your work and avid free sharing of ideas has been transformative for many. Thank you for being a lead learner!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, wow! Thank you so much for all of your kind words and ideas. I’m all about VNPS! It’s kind of a challenge to see, but there are command hooks across the anchor chart board where we hang whiteboards when we have the chance to engage in VNPS. I’ll attach a link that is a tweet with a better visual. Of course, I can always improve my craft, and we could definitely engage in more VNPS! #GrowthMindset The students get so much out of seeing, sharing, and learning from the work of one another!


      1. I love the hanging wipe boards. How big are they and did you have to drill the holes to hang them? Where did you get them? I’ve been reading all the research about using VNPS in math class and want to try it this coming year!


      2. My VNPS boards were cut down from a large sheet of material from a home store. I can’t exactly remember what they called it, but if you ask and say you’re a teacher, they typically can point you to the right place. The employees cut it down at the store for me into 2×3 foot boards, and my husband drilled holes to attach the thick, twine string! I hope this helps!


    1. Haha! Mine looked like a patchwork quilt by the end of the year. I think I might pencil first this year before using marker. It’s worth the time and energy for sure!


  2. I love the living anchor chart board idea–it is a great tool for teacher and students! We are in year one of implementation, so I am looking for any great ideas to steal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Year 1 is definitely a learning year, finding and learning what fits your teaching style and what’s best for your young mathematicians! Shout out questions if you have them!


  3. When students take tests, do you cover all of this up? I wonder if I could asses their understanding with all the thinking on the wall.


    1. I cover up my anchor chart during state testing! I leave it available for use during my unit assessments. Thanks for your feedback. 😊


  4. Hey! I’m so inspired. Do you have a model for 8th grade IM/Open Up content? I’m so ready for next school year that I’m planning now! hahaha


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Esther! I don’t have a Grade 8 one planned out yet, but maybe you can find some inspiration in the Open Up Resources Facebook group! Best wishes as you finish the school year and take time to recover this summer. Thanks for all you do!


    1. I had obnoxiously long boards, so I was okay! But I would definitely use the single sheets and stick them nearby, maybe on an adjacent wall, and be very purposeful about color choice to help make connections to learning. Example: All constant of proportionality content was written in the same shade of green for the year, from proportional relationships to circles to percents, etc.


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