Sharing is Caring: Ideas, Tools, and Charts

Teachers are an amazing group of people. They are not only creative, conscientious, and curious, they are also incredibly generous and sharing. We have heard from many of you and want to share a few here.

Amy Newman is a teacher who has quite the way with words. She has created a wonderful assortment of headings for each of her charts that are designed to engage her students and draw them in to what each chart is teaching. She uses rhyme and rhythm to help make the headings stick in her students’ heads just like an advertising jingle stays in our heads forever. The headings make what she is teaching memorable and the students can often be heard chanting them as they head off to work each day. Thanks Amy for sharing your clever ideas with us.

Reading Chart Headings:
Your reading can go far when you get to know who the characters are! (monitoring for meaning)
Read your book for a little bit, then jot what you noticed on a post-it! (monitoring for meaning)
Keep forgetting what the book is about? Stopping and thinking will help you out! (monitoring for meaning)
Found a part that’s tricky for you? Here are some things that you can do… (word attack strategies)
Our reading can go far when we think about what type of reader we are. (self-reflection)
Writing Chart Headings:
Want to make your writing great? Try these tips to elaborate… (elaboration)
Writers use what they know to help their writing really grow! (self-reflection)
Done, finished, think you’re through? Editing is the thing to do! (editing)
Use what you know to solve writing problems as you go! (revision)
Need some help figuring out what to do? Your writing partner is the one to go to! (partnerships)

Nancy Burrill, a teacher from Seattle, Washington who has been teaching for 34 years, sent us a note letting us know how helpful the book has been in her first grade classroom and how well the ideas work with The Daily 5/Cafe. She also sent along a couple of samples of her favorite chart making pens. They are the Sharpie Flip Chart Markers. The colors are rich and they flow easily and without a stink across any kind of chart paper. Thanks Nancy for sharing.

Sharpie Flip chart markers

Nancy’s favorite chart markers.

Lisa Ockerman, a literacy coach from the Pinecrest School, was planning for a small group and remembered a chart she had used last year with a class of first graders. But when she looked at it she questioned whether or not it would support the young readers she would be using it with this time around. There was lots of print, very little visuals, and not very clear as a result. So she decided to revise the chart, making the text simpler, the graphics bolder, and with clear pictures as examples. She shared with us the two charts, one she labeled “Before Smarter Charts” and the other, “After Smarter Charts.” She said the new version of the chart was not only more effective, it actually took less time to make. Thank you Lisa for sharing the before and after photos.

Before and After

Before and after versions of a first grade chart.

So in the spirit of sharing is caring, if you have some charts, tools, or ideas you have found to be super effective you can email photos to

Upcoming events: We will be presenting two chart workshops at the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project’s Saturday Reunion on Saturday, October 27, 2012. We will also be signing books at the book sale. Stop by and say hi!

Until then, happy charting!

Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz

3 Comments on “Sharing is Caring: Ideas, Tools, and Charts”

  1. […] Sharing is Caring: Ideas, Tools, and Charts (charting ideas from teachers) […]

  2. suze says:

    I’ve noticed charts have become very trendy these days, so here’s a question. I tend to do this sort of thing on my smartboard/computer with the kids gathered round–the writing is neater, I can select fonts, and choose pictures I like. Then I can hit the print button and give a copy for each child to paste into his/her notebook. (plus I don’t have wall space for charts) So why would I want to handwrite a chart?

    • chartchums says:

      I (Kristi) might argue your word choice of “trendy” in that I associate it with the word “fad”. Charts are an essential component of building independence in classrooms, since they remove the auditory overload on children and provide touchstones kids can use again and again- much in the same way adults use notes. Technology certainly has an important place in teaching, and is something that I use in my classroom, but when I make charts I create them by hand because I know my children are implicitly gaining more- letter formation and drawing complex concepts among them- from that process. Additionally, working ‘by hand’ allows for personalization- children’s work and handwriting is often peppered across chart as a way to make the classroom reflective of the students in it.
      Thanks for your question.

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