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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Anchor Charts vs. Public Records

             Do you know the difference between an anchor chart and a public record?  Bring together a room full of teachers and I am sure no two will give the same answer.  So, when my clever team mate posed the question to me I gave her my always witty southern remark of “Well duh of course I do”.  The truth is there is no set definition for what an anchor chart and public record actually is.  Educational resources vary upon criteria’s of each and it seems examples never seem to look the same.  As one gets into researching both it becomes a swirl of confusion and so overwhelming most give up the effort.  In simple but direct terms my definition for both is an anchor chart is teacher created and a public record is student created.   I decided to tackle both this year head on after a 4 day training of Best Practices in Math provided by our school system.  In order to give myself a starting point I came up with key factors each should have. 

            Anchor Charts:
·       Teacher Created
·       Students can add to one
·       Must highlight key points only
·       DON’T make is busy try to be clutter free
·       Make them student  friendly
·       Remember they are used as tools so display in an easily accessible way

Anchor charts are a great teaching tool for students and are part of the learning process.  However, they can sometimes become more of a distraction if they are busy, contain too much fluff, and cannot be used easily.  To avoid making it busy I use dark colors to address key ideas and light colors as an accent piece, this helps students differentiate between each.   Lose the fluff!  Anchor charts should only highlight key teaching points, especially in lower grades.  Provide pictures or drawings if the vocabulary is a struggle for students so that they can make connections between the word and picture.  Last, make sure the anchor charts are easily accessible.  Once an anchor chart is completed I hang it on my front board and it will stay there for the remainder of the nine week period.  At the end of nine week period I take pictures of each chart and place them in a Math Anchor Charts binder.   Inside the binder each topic is broken into dividers (i.e. Addition, Subtraction, Numbers, Money, and Clocks).  Just because you have moved onto a new topic does not mean that the old chart is not needed. 

Public Records:
·       Student Created
·       Displays students mastery of a skill
·       Try to make connections with several skills
·       Remember to teach them “how” to make one
·       Praise, Praise, Praise, and Praise their effort no matter how big or small!

Public records have become a regular for my classroom during assessments. Instead of students simply taking a test a public record gives them the opportunity to actually show mastery of the skill (And honestly they are very excited to make their own poster).  With my students public records I focused mainly on Best Practices strategies by using the four square mats/posters.  In each of the four boxes a student or students had to complete a different skill using one given problem.  The student below was given the number sentence 23 – 9 and was told to create a word problem, write the number sentence, show it in a picture, and show how to regroup.  Although she was given one problem I managed to asses her on several different skills.  Another example is using it with one given number by showing it in longs/cubes, expanded form, place value house, and odd/even.  After using them quite a bit students would expect them and ask to do them more then I required!  Ownership is by far the best attribute for a 2nd grader to have!  Now, I by no means think that my definition, examples, or opinions are how anchor charts and public records must be done.  However a teacher wants to do them is fine as long as it is used a successful tool.  

Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is my partner in crime....the 'other' part of my brain and my 2nd grade teammate.  She is currently working on her Master's degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.  


  1. Your work is very good and I appreciate you and hopping for some more informative posts.
    happy wheels
    super mario bros

  2. To tell the truth, I didn't know the difference between an anchor chart and a public record. Your article has helped me a lot:) Just click here to apply and you will see that we will never let you down!


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