Anchor Your Students to Be Their Absolute Best

Anchor Your Students to Be Their Absolute Best

By Taru Nieminen            January 26, 2017

Product Choice and Anchoring Activities

Product choice and anchoring activities go hand in hand. They let students choose, have students work within their interest areas, encourage more mature thinking, provide the learner with student-centered projects, and are easy for you to grade.

Anchoring projects allow students opportunities to explore a topic in more depth, to discover their own unique style, and to create original products. It is guaranteed that you will be amazed at the innovative, creative, forward-thinking, and sheer volume of advanced skills your students already possess.

Give Control to the Student

When students realize they are in control of their final project or anchoring activity for the topic, unit, or section, they tend to do better than if you gave them a simple multiple choice quiz or test. This way, the student feels like they “have” to show you what they are made of and how much they know. They will even seek out information on the topic you did not cover! Just to show you (and in the process, themselves, of course) their abilities. After all, no matter who the student is, they want to please you, the teacher. Yes, I know, it certainly doesn’t always seem so, but it is the truth.

Remember to compliment the student on just that – e.g. “Nice research!” “I didn’t know that!” etc. (Scroll to the end of the article to see and print a neat poster!)

Create an “Anchor Activity Station.” You will need:

Folders, answer keys (if necessary), guidelines (with appropriate times to access), pens, paper, markers, glue, etc. to have handy for any type of project. I had one plastic tower with drawers full of different types of materials.

When you set the guidelines, and stay firm in your principles, students will follow. For example, my students knew that there was no way we would start a new chapter in our read aloud book (by the way, 6-8th graders love read-alouds as much as Kindergartners!) until the tower was in its original condition and all materials were put away.

Really, you will teach your student so much responsibility, discipline, and overall independence when you stick to the guidelines you’ve created.

Anchoring Activities as Assessments

As anchoring activities go, don’t be afraid to use them as final assessments. Of course, you will need to heed to your district’s rules about testing, but almost always, and definitely when it was feasible, I made sure that each of my tests included some type of project.

Why Would I Do That? It’s Just More Work You Say.

First of all – students love projects. Projects give them the freedom to create, to be an individual (and isn’t that the bane of our existence in middle school!), and use advanced thinking skills.

Second – it showcases all the multiple intelligences. Guaranteed there are at least five of each category of intelligences in each of your classrooms/ classes. I’ve never had one missing. And not only that, but it is wonderful to see how different students will want to team up with students who are not in their “category.”

Third – projects are not that hard to score or grade. You will be absolutely amazed at how easy it can be. Just make it easy for yourself. Yes, decide on just five (5) items you will score on each of the projects. It can be as simple as grammar, spelling, color, number of items required (e.g. six storyboard boxes), creativity (yes, you CAN grade that!), and so much more. Take a look at our preview and see some more examples.

Oh, almost forgot: Four – everyone can now enjoy the amazing products you staple, tape, suspend, and showcase on your classroom walls, in the hallways of the school, and even at parent nights. Success!

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