Curriculum Corner

Curriculum Updates at Savannah Elementary

Savannah Teachers Anchor Learning

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Anchor Charts

Our classrooms are full of anchor charts that display wonderful learning taking place on a daily basis. Who needs Pinterest when you have each other? :) Below you will find five essentials when creating anchor charts with your kiddos:

1. An anchor chart should have a single focus. Sometimes a teaching standard is broad by design, such as "Students will write with a clear focus, coherent organization, and sufficient detail." To be able to meet this standard, teachers would have to help students accomplish the many discrete skills that build capacity to meet the writing expectation. Those skills make up the topics of the lessons that are taught in the day-to-day work in the classroom. It is such discrete skills that are represented in an anchor chart.

2. The anchor chart is co-constructed with the students. The brain-based research of Marcia Tate and others support the use of visuals to incorporate new learning into memory. When the visual represents a learning event that includes the students, it becomes an artifact of the learning experience. It has meaning for the students because they participated in its construction.

3. The anchor chart has an organized appearance. Clarity is paramount to understanding. If the students can’t read the chart or find the statement of explicit instruction, the anchor chart will be of no support to the students when they return to it as a scaffold.

4. The anchor chart matches the learners’ developmental level. The language, the amount of information, the length of the sentences, and the size of lettering should all match the cognitive level of the students for whom the chart is created. Notice the differences in language and complexity across our grade levels that may be teaching the same type of skill.

5. The anchor chart supports on-going learning. One of the most important considerations is whether or not the chart is relevant and used by the students. Charts should reflect recent lessons or concepts that need continued scaffolding. Teachers can support learning by placing an anchor chart in a classroom library where students can access the information later.

A Look Inside Mrs. Dunning's Room

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A look inside the lesson plan...

In First Grade we are researching and then writing an expository text about animals. I let my students choose between 5 different animals, then set up “research boxes” for each animal that includes artifacts for them to observe. Some of the artifacts include a horse and black bear skull, a shark jaw & teeth, hair from a horse tail, a bear claw, a turtle shell, etc. I also included a variety of non-fiction books for students to use. Since I have students at different reading levels, I created picture cards with captions for students who need a smaller amount of text on the page. Each day my students get to pull out their research boxes and use their researching skills to collect information about their animal’s body, habitat, food, life cycle, predators, and interesting facts. When we are done, each student will publish their very own non-fiction book including a TOC, headings, an index & glossary. I can’t wait to see their final products!

ESL Essentials

Ideas and Activities for Building Background

“…using tests as learning events in educational settings could have lasting benefits for learners’ content acquisition, and that tests should be considered a potent learning opportunity, rather than simply as an assessment measure,” write the researchers from the University of California-Irvine and Williams College.


(99 Ideas and Activities for Teacher English Learners with the SIOP Model)

PRETEST WITH A PARTNER allows students the opportunity to preview the lesson material that will be assessed. This practice directs students to what is considered to be the most important information, and also allows them to discuss and share background experiences with each other.

1. Assign students a partner.

2. Assign two roles: READER and WRITER

3. Hand out pre-assessment, one pencil, and question stems (very similar to post-assessment)

4. The READER reads the question. Then the students discuss the answer using the talk stems and then come to consensus on the answer. The WRITER writes the answer.


· Do you know anything about that?

· I am not sure about the answer, but I do know_______.

· I think the answer might be______, because I learned_______.

5. Switch roles and complete.

6. While students are working, walk around the room to assess background knowledge and become aware of areas where knowledge is lacking.

*The answers are not what is important in this activity, it is the discussion that the students are having and the observation of what the students do/do not know about the topic. In addition, it helps the students know what is important to learn, and also helps the teacher keep focused on what needs to be taught.

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