5 Anchor Charts to Support Reading Discussions

Anchor charts don't have to be complicated.  As a matter of fact, they shouldn't be... especially for primary children.  I once read that anchor charts should be designed the way advertisers design billboards... simple, clear, and to the point.  A driver needs to be able to look quickly at the sign, see a few key words and images, and understand what the message is about.  I know anchor charts are a little different than billboards, but the advice is good:  Keep it simple.

These are some of my favorite anchor charts for helping young readers navigate rich conversations about texts.  They're not specific to any particular genre, so they'll work across multiple units of study.  The strategies even apply during science and social studies discussions.

Remember, anchor charts are unique to each teacher's expectations and needs, so you may have to revise some of the wording or you may even want to change up the title, format, or illustrations.  Be inspired to make them your own... they may even spark a new idea for a different chart. 

This is a good lesson for young children who need to understand the foundational principle that actively listening to other people's ideas is the key to a strong discussion.  It also lays the groundwork for you to model how to stay connected to the topic.

I like this anchor chart because it gives the children strategies for developing and maintaining a rich conversation.  It's easy to customize it to fit your particular needs... just change the prompts inside the speech bubbles to match your style and expectations.  The dialogue prompts should help keep the discussion active and stimulate deeper thinking about ideas.

It's okay if readers disagree about ideas.  In fact, it's necessary sometimes.  But teaching children how to disagree constructively and politely is critical to building healthy conversations.  You can try these response stems or write some that sound more like your style.

If I make this chart again, I'll add something about paying attention to the conversation because I've discovered that, sometimes, a student's lack of engagement is the cause of the repetition.  When kids "tune out," they tend to have little to contribute or they wind up repeating something they heard early on in the conversation.  I think repetitive dialogue is a red flag that the conversation has grown stale.  Kids need to be aware of this, realize it's a problem, and then proactively try to revive the discussion. 

Or end it.  I might even add that as a fourth speech bubble:  "Have we said everything we need to about this topic?"

This anchor chart is my favorite because it addresses a pet peeve of mine... totally random comments... like when we're discussing why the boy and his father are living in the airport and I'm amazed at how deeply the children are processing the topic of homelessness and suddenly one child adds, "Tomorrow, I'm going to see the new Avengers movie with my family."  (Can you hear the screeching tires?)  I know, sometimes, children are desperate to tell "their" story to someone.  But my goal is to continue to create an awareness and a habit of why and how we have strong conversations around texts, so I have to teach why unrelated comments aren't helpful at that time.  To help, I make sure we have time in the morning to discuss any personal news the children want to share with everyone.  I find doing this helps to eliminate off-topic comments during reading discussions.

Do you have other ideas to add?

Happy teaching!

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