Monday, July 29, 2013

The What If Anchor Chart

It's that time of the year.  Teachers are heading back to their classrooms to organize, rearrange, and gather their lessons together as they prepare for the first day of school.  And with all of those preparations, comes thoughts of new students and teaching those essential procedures.


I am a big "anchor chart" teacher.  I believe every problem can be solved by building an anchor chart with your students.  Here is my favorite one to do with my class.  You can adapt it to meet the needs of your students' ages and developmental levels.  If you have younger students, add some pictures.  If you have older students, add more details.

This chart is a springboard for a future chart we will build together.  This is the . . . "What if" . . . chart.  Just picture it in your head.  You are sitting at the guided reading group table and children are coming up to the table to ask you questions.  You are working with small groups in guided math.  Once again, the students have burning questions.  I take those burning questions and turn them into a "What If Anchor Chart."

Here is how it works.  Brainstorm a list of reasons that the students might need to interrupt you.  Here is the beauty of this chart.  It is a building chart that can be added to all year long.  This chart gives students solutions to their problems.  Yes, I know we all have procedures into place for a broken pencil, missing game piece, and broken technology.  But there is something magical about the "What if" chart.

 I hang it close by my guided reading table and kindly point to it as children approach me.  They learn really quickly all of the procedures for the "What if I need to interrupt you questions."  I hope you drop by again for my next blog post.

UPDATE in response to questions from readers 7-1-14.

This is the "first" anchor chart to get them brainstorming their "burning" questions.  I address them one at a time over the next few days - week.  Sometimes a new one comes up and we address it immediately.  We add it to our long anchor chart.  I hang the Question-Answer Chart by my guided reading table.  If a student walks towards me at the first of the year during guided reading or other small groups, I just point to the anchor chart.  They usually nod their heads and read the chart.  I use picture clues for younger students to help provide an anchor for them.

The answers to the questions will be your routines.  Here are some of mine. 

Question: What if I need to tell you something?
Answer:   Write in down and put it in the question box.

Question:  What if I don't know how to spell a word?
Answer:    Look at the "I Need Help Spelling a Word" anchor chart. 

Question:  What if my pencil breaks?  
Answer:    Put it in the "no" box and get one from the "yes" box.   

Question:  What if the Smart Board quits working?
Answer:    Go to another center.  

Question:  What if I need to go to the bathroom?
Answer:    Use the bathroom pass and go.

Question:  What if my friend is being mean?
Answer:    Use your kind words and ask them to please use their kind words.

Question:  What if I need a Kleenex?
Answer:   Go get one.  Use it.  Throw it in the trashcan.

We practice these scenarios as a class and model how to handle these issues.   It doesn't take long to cover as you are establishing  your procedures at the first of school anyway.

It is like a worry chart in some ways.  It really helps them realize where to look for help and become independent.  I also tell them readers know where to look for information.  Thanks for the feedback and for asking your questions.

22 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Melinda! I always love to hear their reasons for needing to interrupt group time. Have a great school year!

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  2. I like this idea and the fact that you can add to the chart as other "what ifs" arise.
    Thanks for sharing!!
    Connie Anderson:)
    Welcome To First Grade Room 5

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    1. And those "what if's" arise all year:-) Thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a great school year!

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  3. What a great idea! I try to teach procedures, but the little guys may have these "What Ifs" on their minds while I am teaching it!
    Debbie
    debjac9@aol.com

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    1. Yes Debbie they do. It really helps relieve the anxiety of what to do in all of those "crucial" situations. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  4. Love it! Thanks for sharing, very valuable for establishing procedures in beginning of year.

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  5. Thanks Vanessa. PreK children are very creative with their reasons:-) Got to love the little ones!

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  6. So do you post answers to those what ifs or is the chart just a reminder that they've already been taught the procedures?

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    1. Yes, this is the brainstorming anchor chart. After we have brainstormed the "what if" list, then we create a separate anchor chart that lists the problem, then the solution. What if my pencil breaks? I put my broken pencil in the "no" cup and get a sharpened pencil out of the "yes" cup. So it ends up being a question and answer chart. I hang it close to my small group instruction time. When a child approaches to ask me a question during small group instruction, I point to the chart as a refer at first. Soon, I don't need to remind them where to look for the answers. I include rebus pictures for younger - nonreaders in my classroom. Thanks for visiting my blog :)

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  7. Can you post a picture of problem solution chart just to get an idea? Please

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    1. I will look for a picture of the answer chart. Until then, I updated the post to give an idea of the Question/Answer format I use. I use a regular piece of chart paper. I title it "What If" Then underneath I use their questions from the previous chart and we start answering them. I put the questions and answers sample in blue in red on my post update. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  8. What do you write on your second anchor chart?

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    1. I updated my blog post to answer your question. Look for the red and blue Questions/Answers on my post. I put UPDATE 7-1-14. Thanks for asking your question and visiting my blog.

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  9. I love this idea! I'm looking forward to making a "What If" chart with my students when we go back to school in August. Thank you!

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    1. Awesome! It truly is my favorite anchor chart. I love hearing their burning questions. Even if we have procedures for them, it validates their concerns. And it also helps me be specific in my steps for the procedures that go with the question. Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  10. This is a great idea! I am going to use this with my 5th graders this year. I'd love to hear more about your question box too!

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

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  11. It's our first day back at school, and I used this idea. I teach first grade. Before we talked about all their "I Wonders," I read "Wemberly Worried." I love this idea. Thanks for sharing.

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  12. Wonderful idea! Can't wait to use.

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  13. I love this idea. I will begin to use this and your other ideas with my afterschool group. Congrats on a new school year.

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  14. This is such a brilliant idea!

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