Saturday, September 15, 2012

Anchor Charts and Circle Maps

Surprise again!  Friday afternoon (before the long weekend, just before school started), my principal pulled me out of a meeting and told me that I was changing rooms and grade level.  I had spent the entire summer excitedly planning for a combo- a challenge I was eager to take on, and preparing my new room, and all was for not.  That afternoon, I took down the bulletin boards with tears running down my face, and packed up my stuff to put into a room that was already occupied.  I am now sharing the room with a teaching partner, teaching twice as many kids in a day, a day without a real break, and it's been a whirlwind.

I basically powered through that three-day weekend, staying busy to not only get everything ready, but also to avoid sitting still long enough to really feel upset.  I kept repeating to myself, "It is what it is," and soon enough, the room was ready and so was I.

The first two weeks of school have been exciting, exhausting, and exhilarating.  My new partner has been wonderful, and we're making quite the team.  My big focus this year is Writers' Workshop, and our school's focus is Thinking Maps.  Both have been amazing!  Here are some samples of each...

Writers' Workshop

We started on day 1 for this one.  I am using Jennifer Jacobson's model and loving it so far.
No More, "I'm Done!": Fostering Independent Writers in the Primary Grades

We start with a mini-lesson, model, write, and conference.  One part that I love is the "Quiet Ten" time which is ten uninterrupted minutes of writing- for the students and me.  We've made two anchor charts so far, and I think I'll aim for one a week.

This is one that I copied from Laura at  I wrote the title beforehand, but brainstormed with the kids before writing the "rules."  Since making and posting the chart, this has become my students' mantra...and they are absolutely coloring better than any other first-week-class I've had!

This is our second anchor chart.  We talked about thinking of ideas, drawing a picture, and using labels to tell about your picture.  I asked students to look at my picture and think about what they noticed.  Then we stretched out the words to hear the sounds.  I chose a few students who I knew would be able to write letters, and others who I knew needed help.  My partner helped those who needed it.  The post-it notes worked really well because I could take them off and let my partner use the chart for her kids.  Later we posted it with all the labels.

Next week we will talk about what writers write.  I plan to bring in a number of things for examples and label them on our new anchor chart.  I will post it soon :)

Circle Maps

Our school's big focus this year is Thinking Maps.  I use a flow map every day for our schedule and each student has a personal one for rotations.  They are MAGIC!  Our implementation plan is to introduce one map a week, but we can also use the other maps during that time.  The goal is that by the end of the week, the kids know the specific map of the week, how to use it, and how to draw it.  We used circle maps all week.  Our first was about Pete the Cat, then Froggy, then me, and we ended the week by making one about ourselves.  Here are some samples (unfortunately in black and white).

All the kids had "Bobcat" because that is our school mascot.  I love how this student not only drew the paw print like me, he also added claws!

 This friend has some definite fine motor issues, but also a lot of clear ideas.  He told me about his car and how it was broken in a crash.  He drew as he told me and although it isn't the happiest memory, it is something important to him and shows that he understands what the assignment was.

This was done by one o my higher friends, and as you can see, there is more detail in the pictures.  I love that the kids included all parts of their lives...breakfast, family, wonderful!

Next week we move on to bubble maps.  I'm a little worried since not all of my kiddos can draw a circle let alone several, but I'm sure it be great.  This past week and a half has well-exceeded my expectations so I'm excited for more!


  1. I just found your blog from Pinterest. I can't believe you had to change classrooms and grades that close to the first day of school! I'd be crying too. However, I think you're a real trooper for turning it around and kept a positive attitude in your blog. My hat is off to ya. :) Have a great teaching career.

  2. Nice info! Such simple and well defined steps to coloring! I like the Anchor charts.