Making The Most of It

Congratulations!  Many of you have completed the first week or two of school, and that deserves a little celebration. So sit back, pour yourself a cold glass of …. water, and peer into some classrooms in K, 1, and 2 to see how they are making the most of these first school moments.

The pictures in this section are from one school in New York City’s Chinatown neighborhood, PS 1. As you can imagine, many of the children do not speak English as a first language, and yet you will see that these teachers have jumped right in and begun some incredible work inside of the writers workshop. Our idea in sharing these is not that you feel compelled to copy these insightful tools for independence, but rather you feel inspired to invent your own. The majority of these pictures hail from the classrooms of Rosie Young (a brilliant and dedicated first grade teacher whose kindness will knock you over), Karin Ma (a teacher who inspires such a passion for writing in her students that last year they successfully lobbied the board of education for an air conditioner through their letters) and Maria Willis (a second grade teacher whose belief in what children can do results in volumes of powerful writing every year). We will point out some things you may want to notice, so that when you make your own chart magic, you can rely on some of these tips!

Build Stamina with Support

This first grade chart shows steps that writers should follow when they think they are done. The clarity of each step is reinforced with hand drawn pictures. When you add visuals, don’t feel the need to make them overly detailed or realistic, simple is really better.

Writing Center

Revision Tools

We here at Chartchums are pretty much obsessed with helping children become more independent. Charts are one of the main tools we use to accomplish that, but the writing center, and the writing tools it contains, are also essential elements. Note the clear labels and the accessibility. Whenever making tools for children, step back for a minute and try to see it as a 6 year old, then make sure they can find and use it on their own after it is introduced.

Tools for Writing

Speaking of introductions, you might do a lesson where you name everything in the writing center with a visual as you teach its purpose. This chart is an example that reinforces that instruction. When it comes to vocabulary, never assume! This is a quick and easy way to teach the tools of the writing center, while also teaching the vocabulary of the classroom.  Think of all the places you could use this idea: math, science….the possibilities are endless!

First Grade

Second Grade

These are two different charts around the same basic concept: getting ideas. The second grade chart has more words, and the process is included on the same chart. The first grade chart is only about getting ideas, and has a few ways to do that. The visuals in both help all levels of writers, and the use of the actual paper on the second grade chart makes it very concrete. Whenever making charts, consider using the actual item on the chart when possible. I know when I put together Ikea furniture, I have to hold each screw up to the picture until I am holding the one that matches the illustration. Photographs and actual student work can serve the same purpose.


This is a close up of a class schedule. You may not think this is a chart, but it certainly is a tool that shows children how they will proceed during the day. The pictures and icons make the schedule much more user friendly, and this teacher matches the icons around the room. For example, the Reading Workshop label is also on the reading workshop baggies. Continuity and repetition of symbols can go a long way in helping children remember and accurately use the materials and tools in the classroom. Also, check out the arrow! What better way to draw attention to the current subject. Imagine something like  that on a writing chart, highlighting a specific skill the class is learning and might want to try.

Treat yourself well this weekend, and as always…

Happy Charting!

2 Comments on “Making The Most of It”

  1. rebecca says:

    I am loving your posts! My third grade team has already begun adding pictures to our charts! Thanks for the inspiration and keep it coming!

  2. Wendy says:

    I’m loving your posts, too! Adding more visuals to my charts was one of my goals this year, so your site has been a terrific resource. I really like how the chart titles in this post are phrased as questions. I think this will make them more interactive and useful for students. Keep up the great work!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s