Friday, October 17, 2014

Meaningful Anchor Charts

I mentioned the other day that I'm working to make my instruction better aligned to some of the tricky areas of our teacher evaluation rubric. Our rubric is based on Charlotte Danielson's model, focusing on planning and preparation, classroom environment, instruction, and professional responsibilities. One area that I've been struggling with is component 2e of the classroom environment, which refers to the physical space of the classroom. I love my room. I don't want to change a thing. The kids know where stuff is, they get things as they need. It's safe and comfortable. 


The "distinguished" ranking reads: "The classroom is safe, and learning is accessible to all students including those with special needs. Teacher makes effective use of physical resources, including computer technology. The teacher ensures that the physical arrangement is appropriate to the learning activities. Students contribute to the use or adaptation of the physical environment to advance learning."

WTF. Students contribute to the use or adaptation of the physical environment to advance learning?! I was confused. I talked to the principal after my formal observation the other day (which went very well, and I'm super happy.) He suggested that rather than thinking of the kids helping to organize my layout, that I think more along the lines of the bulletin boards and student spaces in my room. I love love love all my bulletin boards. Shouldn't the kids love them, too? No. I came to a sad sad sad realization that my students were not utilizing all the anchor charts and "I Can" statements I was posting, because I wasn't referring to them or stressing their importance. 

INSTEAD, I'm now trying to have the students physically build the anchor charts with me. We made this NOUN anchor chart the other day. Instead of me posting the pretty poster I have that lists fun nouns, I had the students color in nouns and we sorted them as a group. This anchor chart is now a million times more meaningful for my students because they had a part in creating it.

I just printed out some clipart that I already had downloaded (most of it is Ashley Hughes or Creative Clips.) Super easy. I'm also asking them whether or not certain things would benefit them if I were to put them on the bulletin board. For example, we listed ways to make 10 using a rainbow inspired by this pin (with FREE printables), and the kids determined that it was something they would use. So I posted it. And they're using it. It's like magic. 
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Melissa Young said...

I love this post! Please please keep sharing your strategies as they relate to your goals/ evaluations. We use a different system but sounds like the same ideas.

kate said...

Love it! I am not too happy with my classroom arrangement right now, but I am always trying to find ways to make my anchor charts interactive. I just feel like I have nowhere to put them when they are finished!

The Disneyfied Teacher said...

We use the same evaluation system, but our highest level is "highly effective".
I was the inclusion classroom, and last year my kiddos tested on technology. I let my kids rearrange their desks and lay on the floor to test (some of them used iPads). I took pictures and used that to boost my 2e up to highly effective. I also had pictures of my kiddos doing activities in different spots around the room, using the space for their own learning.
Just wanted to share. :-)
The Disneyfied Teacher