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Before we dive into this week’s blog post, have you seen my FREE teaching strategies guide for dual-language teachers? In this guide, I am sharing nine teaching strategies that will help you set your students on a path towards biliteracy and bilingualism. These are strategies you can start implementing immediately and see amazing results. Click here to get your own copy of the free guide. You can thank me later!
When I started teaching, if anyone offered a class on how to make cute anchor charts, I would have signed up! First of all, I like pretty things. But second of all, my anchor-chart-making skills are not that strong. Sure, if you give me unlimited time, I can get the job done. But who has time for that? Let’s face it! Teachers are already overworked! Staying up late to create beautiful anchor charts just wasn’t gonna happen. But then, something magical happened! I learned how to print anchor charts. This is by far the best teacher hack I have ever learned!
If you want to save yourself some time and purchase pre-made printable anchor charts, you can check the ones I have created. I have upper elementary anchor charts for most reading skills and strategies. They are available in English and Spanish. You can check them out by clicking here!
Why are anchor charts important?
Before we begin talking about how to print anchor charts, we first must discuss why we should even bother using anchor charts in the first place. Anchor charts are records of learning. They help students understand what they are learning by making the content “visible” to them. They are also a great way for students to remember/revisit what they have learned in the past.
I use anchor charts in my classroom to introduce and review reading strategies, grammar rules, and even classroom procedures. Anchor charts should be easy to read, visually appealing, and interactive.
Beware of Posters!
One of the biggest mistakes I see teachers making when it comes to anchor charts is creating them ahead of time without any student input. It is perfectly acceptable to create a skeleton of your anchor chart. However, students must participate in at least some of the creation process. Otherwise, you are just hanging a poster on the wall.
This is why I always make sure my anchor charts have plenty of blank spaces that I can complete with my students during the lesson. This is how we make our charts interactive.
My life before I learned how to print anchor charts
I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but I remember spending the week of Thanksgiving break batch-creating anchor charts for my classroom when I first started teaching. I spent hours upon hours sketching, tracing, and coloring the most beautiful anchor charts I had ever made in my whole life. And then I realized, the break was over, and I had done nothing else.
Before I learned how to print anchor charts, I lived two extremes. I either had beautiful anchor charts that took hours to create or hideous anchor charts that I created on the spot with my students. And both of those were not working for me.
Having pre-made anchor charts was great, but took too long. But the anchor charts I created on the spot were so ugly that I was embarrassed to put them up in my room. Inevitably, I would end up staying late after school to recreate them.
My life after I learned how to print anchor charts
I remember the first time I realized I could print a PDF on multiple pages and tape it together to create a large poster. I immediately thought, “Now I know how to print anchor charts. Score!”
I had already been creating interactive notebook pages for my students, so they could take notes during our lessons. I would create my anchor chart on the spot, following what I had already included in their notes. The students’ notes had blank spaces to add information throughout the lesson.
So, instead of reinventing the wheel, I took the note pages I had already created and turned them into anchor charts that I could easily print and use in my classroom. All it took was one try for me to realize that I would never go back to creating regular anchor charts again.
The benefits of printable anchor charts
You are a busy teacher! You have to write lessons plans, grade papers, and sit through insufferable meetings that could have been an email. Are you wondering why you should spend some of that precious time learning how to print anchor charts? Well, here are some of the benefits of using printable anchor charts in your classroom.
1. Easy to create
Printable anchor charts, in my opinion, are much easier to create. I can create multiple printable anchor charts in the time that it would take me to create one regular anchor chart. I can even include pictures or illustrations that help improve the quality of my anchor chart in just a few clicks. If I don’t have time to create them, I can even purchase premade printable charts from other teachers.
When I create my printable anchor charts, I always laminate them before using them in class. Then, I use expo markers to fill in the blank spaces during the lesson with my students. Whenever I am ready to put that anchor chart away or if I am teaching multiple classes, I can quickly erase what I wrote and reuse the anchor chart.
3. Guided notes
As I mentioned previously, I like to give my students interactive notebook pages that they can use to take notes during the lesson. By using printable anchor charts, I can make sure that my students’ notes look just like my anchor chart. This makes taking notes during the lesson so much easier.
How to print anchor charts
Now that we have talked about the benefits of printable anchor charts, it is time to actually learn how to create/print them.
I create my anchor charts on PowerPoint. Begin by changing the dimensions of my slides. I like to make my anchor charts 24 inches by 36 inches. I don’t often print them that large, but by creating them that size, they always look crisp when I print them.
Then, I add all the information that I need just like I would if I were creating a slide show or worksheet. Once I am done creating the anchor chart, I save it as a PDF. By saving it as a PDF, I can open the file on any computer without messing with any of the formatting. It also allows me to open the file using Adobe Reader, which is the program I use to print posters.
When it is time to print my anchor chart, I open the file using Adobe Reader. If you don’t have Adobe Reader on your computer, you can download it for free here. I click on the print button and begin adjusting the settings to get the anchor chart in the size that I want. You can do that by clicking on “poster” and adjusting the “tile scale.” I like to make my anchor charts about half the size of a regular anchor chart (four sheets of regular paper taped together.) This saves space on my bulletin boards while still being large enough for my students to see. But you can play around with the “tile scale” to choose the size that works best for you. I also like to select “cut marks” to help me trim my pages, so they can fit perfectly together.
Once you are done printing your anchor chart, trim the margins, so the pages can fit perfectly together. Use tape to put all the pieces together, and your anchor chart is ready.
You can also laminate your anchor charts before filling them out with your students. I like doing that because it allows me to reuse them year after year. I use dry-erase markers to write on the lamination. Before putting the charts away, I erase the dry erase marker and the chart is ready to be reused. This is also a great strategy if you teach multiple groups of students because you can erase the anchor chart between classes.
How to print anchor charts – Step-by-step
- Open the PDF file on Adobe Acrobat Reader;
- Select the option “Poster;”
- Play around with the “tile scale” size to figure out the size of your anchor chart;
- Select “cut marks” to help you trim the edges and put your anchor chart together;
- Tape the pages together and voila! Your anchor chart is done.
There you have it…
You no longer have to wonder how to print anchor charts and save yourself hours of work. If you are ready to give these a try but don’t want to spend time creating them on PowerPoint, you can check my reading anchor charts by clicking here. They are available in English and Spanish and are perfect for upper elementary.