7 Tips for Using Math Strategy Anchor Charts

Let’s talk math anchor charts! For me, strategy anchor charts serve as an important visual aid for students throughout the school year.

They are so helpful because they display different representations and students can use them as support when explaining a particular strategy.

They are also provide a collection of mathematical representations. I've noticed that sometimes my students couldn't explain their thinking and reasoning. Have you ever experienced this?

When teaching math, a variety of representations and models should be introduced, discussed, and connected to support students in this area. The models and representations displayed on an anchor chart can serve as a springboard for student explanations.

Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of using math strategy anchor charts, let’s look at a few helpful tips when using them:

Tip #1: Model with Manipulatives 1st

When introducing a math problem to your students, give them time to represent the concept  with manipulatives (ie. base ten blocks, connecting cubes, etc).  This will give them a chance to build conceptual understanding of the math concept.  

Tip #2: Include Visual Models and Representations

After using manipulatives to represent the math, represent the strategies using models, objects, numbers and/or words. Math models and representations help students justify their answer.

Use colorful visuals models to help draw kid’s attention to a specific concept or strategy.

Tip #3: Ask Guiding Questions and Provide Adequate Discussion Time

It’s always important that your kids understand why and how we use a particular strategy. Ask guiding questions like:
  • What do you notice?
  • What parts are difficult to understand?
  • How is this strategy similar to another strategy?  
  • How is this strategy different from another strategy?
  • Will this strategy always work? Prove it.

Be sure to give your students time to discuss their thinking with other students. Discussion time is valuable because it builds student confidence, clarifies their understanding and allows them to hear the thought process of their classmates.

Tip #4: Add Strategies as You Go Along

As different strategies are introduced add them to the anchor chart.  All strategies do not have to be posted to the anchor chart at once. In fact, only post strategies once they've been discussed.

Tip #5: Give Students a Chance to Select Where to Display the Chart

Students love to make choices and have a say in classroom matters. Let them vote on where anchor charts should be placed in your room.

As a bonus, students will definitely know where to look when they need extra support.

Tip #6: Store your Charts so they are Easily Accessible

Use pants hangers to store your anchor charts and store them in your room closet. Using pant hangers will help keep your charts neat and flat!

Teacher Tip: As a word of caution, if you are hanging laminated charts consider using painter’s tape in the areas that touch the hanger.  Typically laminated posters are slippery and will fall out of the hanger.

Tip #7: Provide a Mini Version of the Chart as a Quick Reference

We all know that wall space is scarce. A mini-version of an anchor chart is a practical way to always have them accessible.  

Teacher Tip: Students can glue the mini charts into their notebooks or keep them inside of a folder, providing a quick and easy resource.

With all of this talk about anchor charts, I’m sure you’re well on your way to using math strategy anchor charts to teach and review in your classroom.  

Want to make it a little easier?

Then check out my Math Strategies Anchor Charts. They:
  • include a variety of visual models and representations with numbers and words
  • support a variety strategies for addition, subtraction, multiplication or division
  • include a mini version of the chart as a student quick reference

Click on the image below to take a closer look.

P.S. Want to discover more math ideas, tips & strategies? Just visit Mr Elementary Math and you can access free resources, videos and more.