Anchor charts are a great way to make thinking visible as you record strategies, processes, cues, guidelines and other content during the learning process. Here are 25 of our favorite anchor charts for teaching writing.
1. Why Writers Write
First and second graders will draw inspiration from this fun-filled anchor chart about why we write. Make this chart applicable to older students by expanding on each aspect with a specific audience or goal. “To share experiences” can become “to share experiences with friends, in a postcard or with readers in a memoir.”
Source: The First Grade Parade
2. Personal Narrative
Personal narrative is a style that all students will practice in elementary school. This website has some great worksheets to use with your students to prepare them to write their personal narrative. Then all your students can reference this anchor chart to keep them on task.
Source: Rachel’s Reflections
3. Understanding Character
Before you can writer about character, you first have to understand it. This anchor chart will help your young writers understand the difference between inside and outside characteristics.
Source: Teacher Trap
4. Diving Deeper into Character
Now that your students understand inside vs. outside characteristics, dive deeper into describing a specific character. This anchor chart is a wonderful idea because students can write their idea on a sticky and then add it.
Source: MPM Ideas
5. Six Traits of Writing
This anchor chart is jam-packed with things for fourth- and fifth-grade writers to remember about the six traits of writing. Use the chart as a whole-class reference, or laminate it to use with a small group. When it’s laminated, students can check off each aspect they’ve included in their own writing. Meaningful dialogue? Check! Problem and solution? Check!
Source: Working for the Classroom
6. Writing Realistic Fiction
This anchor chart reminds upper elementary students how to create realistic stories. It really walks your students through so they have all the elements they need to create their own story.
Source: Two Writing Teachers
7. Sequence of Events
Help early-elementary students stay organized with an anchor chart that’s focused on order-of-events language. Tactile learners can write their first drafts on sentence strips and use this format to put the events in order before they transcribe their work onto writing paper.
Source: Life in First Grade
8. Informational Writing
Focus upper elementary students on the most important aspects of informational writing while keeping them organized. This chart could be used to support paragraph writing or essays.
Source: Teaching with a Mountain View
9. OREO Opinions
This deliciously inspired opinion anchor chart can be used by students in grades 3–5 during writers workshop, or when developing an opinion for discussion or debate. To build out student writing, have them “double-stuff” their Oreos with extra “E” examples.
10. Student Reporters
This anchor chart, best for K–2, is made relevant with examples of student work, in this case a fantastic ladybug report. Keep this chart relevant by updating the examples with student work throughout the year. In kindergarten, this will also showcase how students move from prewriting and pictures to writing words and sentences.
Source: Joyful Learning in KC
11. Write from the Heart
Sometimes the hardest part about writing is coming up with who and what you should write about. This is the fun part, though! Use this anchor chart to remind your students that they have lots of good writing options.
Source: First Grade Parade
12. Get Argumentative
Use this anchor chart with middle schoolers to make sure they’re considering all sides of an argument, not just the one that matters the most to them. One way to adapt this chart as students develop their understanding of argument is to write each element—claim, argument, evidence—under a flap that students can lift if they need a reminder.
Source: Literacy & Math Ideas
13. Writing Process
This is an anchor charts you’ll likely directly your students to again and again. The writing process has several steps, and it’s good to remind students of this so they don’t get frustrated.
Source: Mrs. Skowronski
14. Writing Checklist
For those young writers in your class, these covers the basics in an easy way.
Source: Kindergarten Chaos
15. Cause and Effect
Cause and Effect will always be an essential part of any story. Help your students come up with different scenarios for cause and effect. In many instances you could have multiples effects, so challenge your students to identify three to four at a time. This will really give them something to write about!
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Source: Mrs. Sandburg
16. Organized Paragraph
The stoplight visual can be used to help early elementary students understand and write clear paragraphs. As students are editing their work, have them read with green, yellow and red pencils in hand so they can see how their paragraphs are hooking and engaging readers.
SOURCE: Mandy’s Tips for Teachers
17. A Strong Lead
This sixth-grade anchor chart gives students lots of ways to start their writing. It could be updated midyear with strong examples of leads that students have written or that they’ve found in books. Students could also copy this chart into their notebooks and keep track of the different ways they’ve started their own writing, to see if they develop a signature lead.
Source: Miss Klohn’s Classroom
18. Power Up Student Sentences
Inspire students to get crafty and creative with their sentences. Update the moods or keywords with every writing assignment so students are constantly refining their clauses, verbs, and descriptions.
Source: Teaching My Friends
19. Show, Don’t Tell
“Show, don’t tell” is a cardinal rule of writing. This anchor chart, best for upper elementary writers, can be used to strengthen scenes in fiction and narrat
ive nonfiction works. Build this chart out for middle school writers with additional ideas and more complex emotions.
Source: Upper Elementary Snapshots
20. Narrative Organizer
Leave this chart up in your classroom for your students to reference often when they’re writing. It really takes them through creating a successful story.
Source: Working 4 the Classroom
21. Expository Writing
This anchor chart really brings together the elements of a story in a creative, color-coded way.
Source: Adventures of a Future Teacher
22. Strong Sentences
Get early-elementary students to write longer, more descriptive sentences with this chart. Bonus: Use sentence strips to switch out the examples of strong sentences based on student writing.
Source: The Good Life
23. The Internal Story
This second-grade chart gives students the language to add their own thoughts into their writing. Modify this chart by highlighting key phrases for students with special needs. Or have students create different thought-bubble icons to represent each internal-dialogue sentence starter.
Source: Totally Terrific in Texas
24. Evidence Supported
Upper elementary students will benefit from reminders on how to refer to and cite text evidence. Use this anchor chart during writing and discussion to help connect the language that we use across domains.
Source: History Tech
25. CUPS and ARMS
Pick your acronym when revising and editing. These charts are great for third, fourth and fifth graders. Older students can get more targeted with editing marks.
26. Spicy Edits
Have students choose one element or “spice” to add to their work as they revise. This chart works for students in elementary and middle school, depending on which elements they include.
Source: Ms. Liu
27. Writing Buddies
Sometimes students can get stuck when working with writing buddies. This anchor chart will help, encouraging students to be positive and make good, thoughtful suggestions.
28. Publishing Guidelines
Third and fourth graders can easily see if they’re finished writing with this publishing checklist. Consider making an anchor chart that shows how students can determine if their digital writing is ready to publish (or print) as well.
Source: Juice Boxes and Crayolas
Posting anchor charts keeps current learning accessible and helps your students to make connections as their understanding grows. Keep the charts up-to-date and they’ll serve as a living reference in your classroom and will inspire a culture of writing.
Book Review Writing
Download the PDF version of this lesson plan.
If you love to read, at some point you will want to share a book you love with others. You may already do this by talking about books with friends. If you want to share your ideas with more people than your circle of friends, the way you do that is by writing a review. By publishing the reviews you write, you can share your ideas about books with other readers around the world.
It's natural for young readers to confuse book reviews with book reports, yet writing a book review is a very different process from writing a book report. Book reports focus on the plot of the book. Frequently, the purpose of book reports is to demonstrate that the books were read, and they are often done for an assignment.
A book review is a totally different task. A book review's purpose is to help people decide whether or not the book would interest them enough to read it. Reviews are a sneak peek at a book, not a summary. Like wonderful smells wafting from a kitchen, book reviews lure readers to want to taste the book themselves.
This guide is designed to help you become a strong book reviewer, a reader who can read a book and then cook up a review designed to whet the reading appetites of other book lovers.
Form: What should the review look like?
HOW LONG SHOULD IT BE?
The first question we usually ask when writing something is "How long should it be?" The best answer is "As long as it takes," but that's a frustrating answer. A general guideline is that the longer the book, the longer the review, and a review shouldn't be fewer than 100 words or so. For a long book, the review may be 500 words or even more.
If a review is too short, the review may not be able to fulfill its purpose. Too long, and the review may stray into too much plot summary or lose the reader's interest.
The best guide is to focus less on how long to write and more on fulfilling the purpose of the review.
HOW DO YOU CREATE A TITLE?
The title of the review should convey your overall impression and not be overly general. Strong titles include these examples:
- "Full of action and complex characters"
- "A nail-biter that will keep you up all night"
- "Beautiful illustrations with a story to match"
- "Perfect for animal lovers"
Weak titles may look like this:
- "Really good book"
- "Three stars"
- "Pretty good"
- "Quick read"
HOW SHOULD IT BEGIN?
Although many reviews begin with a short summary of the book (This book is about…), there are other options as well, so feel free to vary the way you begin your reviews.
In an introductory summary, be careful not to tell too much. If you retell the entire story, the reader won't feel the need to read it him/herself, and no one appreciates a spoiler (telling the end). Here are some examples of summaries reviewers from The New York Times have written:
"A new picture book tells a magically simple tale of a lonely boy, a stranded whale and a dad who rises to the occasion."
"In this middle-grade novel, a girl finds a way forward after the loss of her mother."
"Reared by ghosts, werewolves and other residents of the hillside cemetery he calls home, an orphan named Nobody Owens wonders how he will manage to survive among the living having learned all his lessons from the dead. And the man Jack — who killed the rest of Nobody's family — is itching to finish the job."
"In vivid poems that reflect the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, an award-winning author shares what it was like to grow up in the 1960s and 1970s in both the North and the South." Other ways to begin a review include:
- Quote: A striking quote from the book ("It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.") can make for a powerful beginning. This quote begins George Orwell's novel 1984.
- Background: What makes this book important or interesting? Is the author famous? Is it a series? This is This is how Amazon introduces Divergent: "This first book in Veronica Roth's #1 New York Times bestselling Divergent trilogy is the novel the inspired the major motion picture."
- Interesting Fact: For nonfiction books in particular, an interesting fact from the book may create a powerful opening for a review. In this review of The Middle East by Philip Steele, Zander H. of Mid-America Mensa asks, "Did you know that the Saudi Arabia's Rub' al-Khali desert reaches temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and plummets to the freezing point at night?"
- Explanation of a term: If a word or phrase in the book or title is confusing or vitally important to understand, you may wish to begin the review explaining that term.
Process: What should I write about?
Deciding what to say about the book can be challenging. Use the following ideas as a guide, but remember that you should not put all of this into a single review — that would make for a very long review! Choose the things that fit this particular book best.
What the reader ought to know
- What kind of book is it? (Picture book? Historical fiction? Nonfiction? Fantasy? Adventure?)
- Does the book belong to a series?
- How long is the book? Is it an easy or a challenging read?
- Is there anything that would be helpful for the reader to know about the author? For instance, is the author an expert in the field, the author of other popular books, or a first-time author?
- How does the book compare to other books on the same topic or in the same genre?
- Is the book written in a formal or informal style? Is the language remarkable in any way?
- What ages is the book geared to?
- Is the book written in normal prose? If it is written in poetic form, does it rhyme?
Writing about the plot is the trickiest part of a review because you want to give the reader a feel for what the book is about without spoiling the book for future readers. The most important thing to remember is that you must never give away the ending. No one likes a spoiler.
One possibility for doing this is to set up the premise (A brother and a sister find themselves lost in the woods at the mercy of an evil witch. Will they be able to outsmart her and escape?). Another possibility is to set up the major conflict in the book and leave it unresolved (Sometimes the waiting is the hardest part or He didn't know what he stood to lose or Finding your purpose in life can be as easy as finding a true friend.)
Try to avoid using the tired phrase "This book is about…" Instead, just jump right in (The stuffed rabbit wanted more than anything to live in the big old house with the wild oak trees.)
Who lives in the book?
Reviews should answer questions about the characters in fiction books or non-fiction books about people. Some possible questions to answer include:
- Who are the main characters? Include the protagonist and antagonist.
- What makes them interesting?
- Do they act like real people act or are they too good or too evil to be believable?
- Are they human?
- What conflicts do they face?
- Are they likeable or understandable?
- How do they connect with each other?
- Do they appear in other books?
- Could you relate to any of the characters in the story?
- What problems did the main characters face?
- Who was your favorite character, and why?
- We learn about characters from things they do and say, as well as things other characters say about them. You may wish to include examples of these things.
What is the book about at its heart?
What is the book really about? This isn't the plot, but rather the ideas behind the story. Is it about the triumph of good over evil or friendship or love or hope? Some common themes include: change, desire to escape, facing a challenge, heroism, the quest for power, and human weaknesses.
Sometimes a book will have a moral — a lesson to learn. If so, the theme is usually connected to that moral. As you write about the theme, try to identify what makes the book worth reading. What will the reader think about long after the book is finished? Ask yourself if there any particular lines in the book that strike you as meaningful.
Where are we?
The setting is the time and place the story occurs. When you write about the setting in a review, include more than just the location. Some things to consider:
- Is the book set in the past, present or future?
- Is it set in the world we know or is it a fantastical world?
- Is it mostly realistic with elements of fantasy (animals that can talk, for example)?
- Is the setting unclear and fuzzy, or can you easily make the movie in your mind?
- How much does the author draw you into the setting and how does s/he accomplish that?
OPINION & ANALYSIS
What do you really think?
This is where the reviewer shares his/her reactions to the book that go beyond the essential points described above. You may spend half of the review on this section. Some possible questions to address include:
- Why do you think other readers would enjoy it? Why did you enjoy it (if you did) or why didn't you (if you didn't).
- What ages or types of readers do you think would like the book?
- How does it compare with other books that are in the same genre or by the same author?
- Does the book engage your emotions? If a book made you laugh or cry or think about it for days, be sure to include that.
- What do you like or dislike about the author's writing style? Is it funny? Is it hard to follow? Is it engaging and conversational in tone?
- How well do you think the author achieved what s/he was going for in the writing of the book? Do you think you felt what the author was hoping you would feel?
- Did the book feel complete, or did it feel as though key elements were left out?
- How does the book compare to other books like it you've read?
Are there parts that are simply not believable, even allowing for the reader's understanding that it is fiction or even fantasy?
- Are there mistakes?
- Would you describe the book as for entertainment, self-improvement, or information?
- What was your favorite part of the book?
- Would you have done anything differently had you been the author?
- Would any reader enjoy this book? If not, to what ages or type of reader would it appeal?
Special situations: Nonfiction and young reviewers
Some of the tips and ideas above work best for fiction, and some of it is a little too complicated for very young reviewers.
What to do if it's real
When reviewing a book of nonfiction, you will want to consider these questions:
- What was the author's purpose in writing the book? Did the author accomplish that purpose?
- Who is the target audience for the book?
- What do you think is the book's greatest value? What makes it special or worthwhile?
- Are the facts shared accurate?
- Is the book interesting and hold your attention?
- Would it be a useful addition to a school or public library?
- If the book is a biography or autobiography, how sympathetic is the subject?
- Is it easy to understand the ideas?
- Are there extra features that add to the enjoyment of the book, such as maps, indexes, glossaries, or other materials?
- Are the illustrations helpful?
Keeping it simple
Reviewing a book can be fun, and it's not hard at all. Just ask yourself these questions:
- What is the book about? You don't need to tell the whole story over — just give an idea of what it's about.
- Do you think other people would like it?
- Did you think it was funny or sad?
- Did you learn something from the book?
- l Did you think it was interesting?
- Would you want to read it again?
- Would you want to read other books by the same author or about the same subject?
- What was your favorite part?
- Did you like the pictures?
Remember! Don't give away the ending. Let's keep that a surprise.
GENERAL TIPS & IDEAS
Use a few quotes or phrases (keep them short) from the book to illustrate the points you make about the book. If there are illustrations, be sure to comment on those. Are they well done? Has the illustrator done other well-known books?
Make sure you include a conclusion to the review — don't leave it hanging. The conclusion can be just one sentence (Overall, this book is a terrific choice for those who…).
You can use the transition word handout at the end of the Writer's Toolbox to find ideas for words to connect the ideas in your review. If you would like to read some well-written reviews, look for reviews of books for young people at The New York Times or National Public Radio.
How to award stars?
Most places you post reviews ask you to rate the book using a star system, typically in a range of from one to five stars. In your rating, you should consider how the book compares to other books like it. Don't compare a long novel to a short poetry book — that's not a valid comparison.
It's important to remember that it's not asking you to only give five stars to the very best books ever written.
- 5 Stars: I'm glad I read it or I loved it (this doesn't mean it was your favorite book ever).
- 4 Stars: I like it. It's worth reading.
- 3 Stars: It wasn't very good.
- 2 Stars: I don't like it at all.
- 1 Star: I hate it.
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