Many times in my teaching career I have had the following experience. I am getting ready to teach the best planned lesson and as I begin a student asks a question that takes the opening conversation a totally different way. I believe that is being a reflective teacher. Realizing that their questions are often the best guide for great lessons in our classroom. But I had never thought about this idea when it comes to creating anchor charts.
However, after being in school for several weeks, I was getting ready to introduce Word Observations in Word Study. I put the word “airplanes” on the board and asked my class what do you know about this word? Molly said, “It has letters.” I replied yes and added it to our new anchor chart entitled: Word Observations. There was a long pause and finally Ana said, “It is a compound word.” and I added it to the chart. Again there was a pause (seemed like forever) and Joe said, “It has vowels” I decided to push a little bit more, and we ended up with words are made of vowels and consonants. This is where the conversation ended. This is not the anchor chart that I thought we would have at the end of a 30 minute lesson, but this is where the class was so we stopped and headed to specials.
The next day we continued with a different word “surprised” and the conversation started with the same thinking, but Howard added “This word ends in “ed” so it must be a verb.” Light bulb moments (part of speech and prefixes) all rolled into one comment. We added those two ideas to our anchor chart and went back to “airplanes” to add plural noun.
This pattern continued for 3 periods of 30 minutes each. It took everything I had just not to tell them what I wanted on our anchor chart, but I knew it was their anchor chart. This was huge for me because how many times do we predetermine the anchor chart and just push right through the lesson to get to what we want on it. These lessons took much longer than I planned, but now the students own the word observation anchor chart and BEST of all they now know how to observe a word also.