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Why Math Anchor Charts May Be A Thing Of The Past

math reference sheets

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Are you looking for a way to move away from the traditional math anchor chart? Maybe your students need more concepts at their fingertips.

math reference sheets

I’m going to let you in on a little secret, and I don’t want you to think of less of me as a teacher after I tell you. Ok? Alright, here it goes. I don’t often make traditional math anchor charts. The ones where we (the teachers) do all the work, draw cute pictures, come up with examples and take hours creating. 

After that, we just hang them on our wall, and sometimes the kids barely see them again. I’ve devised ways to make anchor charts more interactive and more supportive of multiple intelligence. But, when you get into the upper grades, students often need reference guides at their fingertips, and that’s where my idea for individual math anchor charts came to mind.

Creating Anchor Charts

Anchor charts have a lot of benefits, but more often than not, teachers (like myself) spend hours getting them ready, use them in a lesson, hang them, and then barely reference them again. We often will say, “use the anchor chart” while working in a small group or as a whole group reminder, but by then, the anchor chart may be covered with another, falling down, or students can’t figure out exactly which one to use.

Anchor charts can help different learning styles; if you make them interactive and engaging, there are even more benefits. But, overall, many teachers do not know how to use them more frequently after that initial lesson. 

Being a teacher is hard work, and remembering to refer back to a large piece of paper in the back of your classroom is probably the last thing on your mind. But don’t worry because your students can access anchor charts in other ways! 

Anchor Chart Ideas

I’ve learned through experience and have found other ways to give my students the ability to access an anchor chart without covering the room in paper. Here are just a few ways, and then I’ll dive a little deeper into my math reference sheets and why I LOVE them.

  • Use a large binder ring and make post-it-sized individual anchor charts.
  • Use Target Dollar Spot clear adhesive pockets, place them on the desk/table, and make anchor charts to fit inside.
  • Use a tension rod/magnetic curtain rod and hang anchor charts on them. Bonus: Have one for each subject.

I am a less is more teacher, so I just couldn’t get myself on board with the “anchor chart, for each skill” mindset. It meant a lot of work and a lot of paper around my room. That’s when I developed and started using math reference sheets instead of the traditional math anchor charts.

Math Anchor Charts Vs. Math Reference Sheets

As students age, math concepts become more complex, and they must remember more material from years past. This is where the idea of an anchor chart can become a little more challenging. 

If students do not remember concepts from the past year or even two years, how do you give them this information to help them without turning the classroom into a paper room? Students need to be given the resources to help them remember those concepts and to determine how they work with the new concepts they are learning.

But, creating anchor charts for multiple concepts for just one lesson can become overwhelming, and we all know teachers do not have any extra time to create all these charts. 

I’m going to give you a little Pros and Pros chart here. I think there are pros to math anchor charts and pros to using individual math reference sheets too! 

Math Anchor Chart Pros: 

  • One concept per chart
  • All students can easily read and see.
  • Students don’t waste time trying to find the correct concept.
  • Allows administration to see what concepts you are teaching. 

Math Reference Sheets Pros: 

  • Each student receives one.
  • Multiple concepts on one sheet.
  • Remind students of past concepts.
  • Easily stored in a folder, hanging on a binder ring, or in a desk.
math reference sheets

See, there are pros to both, which is why you should always do what works best for students. One year, you may just need a math anchor chart; next year, your students may need reference sheets.

Math Reference Sheets

Math reference sheets allow students to see multiple concepts at once, and this can sometimes help them solve more challenging concepts without feeling as though they need to raise their hand and ask a question about a skill they learned in 2nd grade. 

Plus, I think it’s an amazing opportunity for discussion, I love having students discuss with each other which part of the reference sheets they needed to use to solve a problem.

I have watched many partners realize they both got the right answer but used different parts. I’ve also witnessed the “oh!” moment when a student was stuck, and a friend showed them which parts they used to get the answer.

I sometimes use the math reference sheets as a little informal assessment for myself as well. I look to see which concepts students refer back to a lot of the sheet, which tells me that I should probably review or reteach that skill.

Overall, I am all for math anchor charts that serve a purpose, whether they are interactive and hit multiple intelligences, or if you decide to use the math reference sheets, I think there are many benefits there too! 

If you’re looking for some interactive ELA anchor charts, click here.

Want to try out the math reference sheets? Click here.

Melissa Mazur

Melissa Mazur

My name is Melissa and I am an educator, blogger, and curriculum designer.
I’m here to help offer you teaching tips and low-prep resources to help take some of the burdens off you so you can do what you do best – teach!

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learning lab resources- about

Oh hey there!

My name is Melissa and I am an educator, blogger, and curriculum designer.
I’m here to help offer you teaching tips and low-prep resources to help take some of the burdens off you so you can do what you do best – teach!  

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