Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Anchor Charts for the Handwriting Challenged

I am going to try to be better about posting to my blog. I'm starting today by participating in Technology Tailgate's "Techie Tuesday Link Up".
I love seeing all the amazing anchor charts posted on Pinterest! Seriously, some people must spend HOURS creating elaborate charts with perfectly straight and even handwriting and illustrations that look like an artist created them! I pin them, thinking... that chart is perfect for my kiddos! I'll make that this weekend...and then reality hits.

1. I could never make my chart look like that. My handwriting is...well...let's just say neatness is a challenge. Plus I'm left-handed, so I always smudge whatever I draw or write.

2. That chart would take me hours to make! I have so much other school prep to do!

3. I have very limited wall space in my classroom, so where would I hang it when it's done?

If you can relate to any of the above, or if you're wondering, "How is this technology?"...read on!
Just look at this Angry Birds anchor chart on literary devices. Amazing, right? It was all over Pinterest last summer. I found it at Working 4 the Classroom. I knew I could never make it, but that it would really help my students remember literary devices.

My solution to this dilemma is to save the anchor charts that I want as images and then insert them into a SMART Notebook file so I can project them during my lessons. (This would also work with PowerPoint and a projector if you don't have an interactive white board.) This is how I do it.

1. Click on the photo of the chart you like.
2. Right-click and choose "save picture as".
3. Choose where to save your picture. I have a folder on my desktop called "anchor charts".

Once the chart is saved, I usually crop it and edit it to lighten it up and sharpen the contrast. I don't have fancy photo editing software. Here's how I do it with Microsoft Office 2010.

1. Browse to your saved picture. Right click on the photo and click "Open with" and choose Microsoft Office 2010.

2. On the top toolbar, choose "Edit Pictures".

3. On the right, options will appear. I crop first, if necessary, and then click "OK".

4. Click "Edit Pictures" again and choose "Brightness and Contrast."

5. Play around with how much to adjust the various settings here. In general, I adjust the contrast up, as well as either the brightness or mid-tones. When you like how it looks, click "OK".

6. Click "save".

If it's a chart I want my students to refer to over and over, I make mini-copies of the chart and print them out for my students to glue into their Literacy Notebooks. Here's how I do this with PowerPoint:

1. Open a new, blank PowerPoint file. (Layout > blank). The orientation of the page depends on how many charts you want to fit. If you are putting 2, 6, or 8 to a page, keep it in landscape, which is the default. If you are putting 4 on a page, switch it to portrait. (Click "design > slide orientation > portrait".)

2. On the top toolbar, click "Insert > Picture" and browse to wherever you saved your picture. Click on the picture and then click "Insert". (You can also just double-click the picture.)

3.  (For people without an interactive white board only. Otherwise, skip to Step 4.)
If you do not have an interactive white board, this would be the big image you would project and use in your lesson. In that case, you would duplicate the slide to have another page for step 4. (If you need the page orientation to be different for the two different slides, it would be better to make each slide as a separate file, as I don't think PowerPoint lets you change the orientation within the same file.)

4. Resize the picture for how many you want to fit on the page and copy/paste the additional pictures.

5. You can either print directly from PowerPoint, or save as a pdf, which will print a little larger.

Since the Angry Birds chart is so detailed, I would only put 2 on a page.
With less detailed charts, you can fit 4-8 charts on the page.
This chart is from the talented Stephanie at 3rd GradeThoughts. She uses it to launch Read to Self in Daily 5. I was able to get 4 charts on a page, and, while the colored images look awesome, as you can see, they are also fine when printed in black and white, 'cause let's be realistic... all that colored ink really adds up!
I hope other busy and/or handwriting-challenged teachers find this tip helpful and that I am not violating anything by using other people's anchor charts this way. That is certainly not my intent. I figure if someone posted them on their blog or Pinterest, they wanted to share, and since these are not items that anyone is selling, I'm thinking it is okay.


  1. Hi Cathy! I love your blog - it's colorful and informative. Also, I've nominated you for a Liebster Award - recognizing bloggers with less than 200 followers. Please see my blog to get the details: http://www.pinkwatermelons.blogspot.com/

    Congratulations, susan

    1. Well, how cool is that? Thank-you so much, Susan! I will head over to check out your blog and see what I need to do. Thanks again!

  2. I just nominated you for a Liebster Award :) http://toengagethemall.blogspot.com/2013/07/liebster-award-no-suh.html

    1. Wow! Two nominations in the same week...I feel really special! Thank-you so much, Kara! Off to check out your blog now!

  3. This is a great idea, thank you for sharing! I'm so glad I just found your blog. I love finding fellow 4th grade teacher blogs!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  4. Hi Bethany,
    Thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving me a comment. I just visited your blog, which is amazing! I am your newest follower and I will be back often. I agree about loving to find other 4th grade blogs!