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Let’s rid the myths about visual learning — big bucks and artistic abilities not necessary. There is a misconception that visual aids used to enhance instruction, such as anchor charts, are only effective if they are purchased, prefabricated posters from a local educator supply store. Tack on the n

Nov 09, 2016

Let’s rid the myths about visual learning — big bucks and artistic abilities not necessary.


There is a misconception that visual aids used to enhance instruction, such as anchor charts, are only effective if they are purchased, prefabricated posters from a local educator supply store. Tack on the notion that they must be created by an artistic individual and it’s no wonder many educators are afraid to give this operative teaching tool a shot.

Don’t let the pretties on Pinterest deter you from creating your own academic masterpiece. The instructional reach of well-planned and relevant anchor charts do not have to be Monet-inspired perfection. All you need is chart paper, markers, and a plan!

Effective Anchor Charts:

Anchor charts are blank canvases for content and information dissemination. The best anchor charts are pre-planned in content, but executed with organic student input. These content- and skill-specific creations are generated in the midst of instruction, interactively designed, and considered a “living document,” where new information can and should be added throughout the duration of a lesson. By allowing students to take part in the documentation, they will be empowered. Even greater, they will feel a sense of ownership over the content.

Ineffective Anchor Charts:

Anchor charts are not pre-made documents. They should not be presented to students as a completed reference. Anchor charts are meant to spawn new learning by providing a visual content reference for a particular group of students. Therefore, using the same set of anchor charts year after year is not an effective practice. Also, proper use of anchor charts does not mean pulling them out for a period of time in the learning sequence and then tucking them away in a closet drawer — students must find them to be accessible for continuous learning.

Tips for Generating Effective Anchor Charts:

  • Although we said not to let Pinterest discourage you, certainly don’t give up surfing the internet for ideas. Truly, this is all about planning. Check out different anchor chart pictures and begin crafting your vision.

  • Review the content thoroughly and determine the information that is most relevant to student learning. The last thing you want is too much information. Instead, make sure students can readily access the items they need.

  • Create spaces in the classroom where students can see and refer to these living documents.

  • Provide anchor chart journals where students can replicate the diagram and have them at their fingertips.

  • Most importantly, understand that anchor charts are for all students, regardless of subject or grade.

  • Lastly, you can never have too many anchor chart materials. Keep plenty of chart paper, thin-tip markers, wide-tip markers, Washi tape, sticky notes, and sentence strips on hand. You never know when a brilliant idea will spark your desire to get charting.


If you’re not an avid anchor charter, give it a try! We’re certain that if you make students part of the creation and reference the information in your instruction, your learners will use them as a support source.

Not sure where to start? Learn more about how to use anchor charts in ways that align with instruction. Rozlyn Linder has great examples.

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