Each week I’m going to be highlighting a different product from our shop and giving you tips and strategies to best use it in your classroom.  Of course, I am going to start with my favorite product and the cornerstone of the brand – The Teacher Anchor.  I’ll walk you through how to set it up and what to best use each sheet for.

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I’ve mentioned it before, but I created the Teacher Anchor to be an all-in-one lesson planner, student progress monitoring, small group, and individual conferencing binder.  The idea is that everything is in one place for you to refer to it as you plan for whole group and individual student needs.  You can see more about the Anchor in the video here.  Also the FREE PRINTABLE LIBRARY is always available for you to download checklists, resources, and planners for FREE!!!

But let’s walk you through how to set it up and how to best use each sheet for your advantage.

Part 1 – Setting it up

Each Teacher Anchor comes with explanation sheets on how to set it up, but for those of you who haven’t read them or want an abbreviated version, this is for you.

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The first thing I do is grab a handful of tab dividers.  You can get as many tabs as you want, but I grab 5 plus however many students I have (so if I have 20 students then I need 25 tab dividers).  The Teacher Anchor comes with two sheet set packets: the classroom planner and the student data sheet set.  I like to put the classroom planner first because it’s the big picture.  Then I put all my small group and individual tabs.  So with my label maker, I label as follows:

  • Lesson Plans
  • Small Group Schedule
  • Small Group Notes:Reading
  • Small Group Notes: Math
  • Running Records
  • Then 20 individual student tabs

Now that you have your tabs set, let’s begin planning whole group.

Part 2 – Whole Group Lesson Planning

The first part of the Teacher Anchor are your year-at-a-glance pages.

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A teacher that recently purchased her Anchor, said to me, “We have so many standards to cover in fourth grade.  I think I may need more Yearly Planning pages.”  To which I explained, that that’s the beauty of a 3 ring binder system!  You have the ability to make copies of the pages you need more of and insert them accordingly!  I could never do that with my old spiral bound lesson planners.  So off she went to make 2-3 more copies of her yearly pages.

Once you’ve planned your big ideas, then it’s time to plan your lessons weekly.  The weekly pages are divided into 5 rows of large boxes for your various subjects.  This makes it easy for you if you departmentalize.  For example, if you are only a math teacher, you can plan for all of your separate math classes in each row for Monday-Friday because the subjects aren’t pre-written for you.  There is also a space for you to write out your weekly standards, plus a space for notes, reminders, and weekly duties.  But the best part is the reflection box!  I love thinking back on the week that was and focusing on positive things that happened.  It’s easy to dwell on a bad lesson or a tough evaluation, but when you’re forced to focus on what was great about your week, you can go into the next one with a happier attitude.

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Some other fun sections of the Teacher Anchor are the substitute teacher notes, classroom volunteer planners, birthday pages, a blog and website log, plus a few pages to write what lights your heart on fire… and we all know how good those pages are for our soul (read more here).  Check out a few of them below (my apologies for the strange lighting in the photos… I took them myself and haven’t quite figured out my new camera yet!)

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Part 3 – The Small Group and Individual Pages

When I was creating the Teacher Anchor, I thought about how I ran small groups and individual conferences with my students.  I had created forms just like you see in the Student Data sheet set and kept blank copies right next to my small group table.  So that I could easily pull one out when I was working with my students.  Then I’d hole punch it and put it in the correct section of my conferencing binder.  That’s the idea with the second half of the Teacher Anchor.

The first pages you receive are monthly and weekly small group lesson planning pages.  Some teachers plan their small groups by month, others by week.  I included both options so you could do what is best for you.  If I was planning weekly, I’d copy a stack of weekly pages and insert them into the “Small Group Schedule” tab.  Here is a sample of a weekly lesson plan.

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Then I would keep a stack of blank small group pages next to my reading table.  Once I had planned for the week, I’d pull out a few small group notes and fill out the top two sections of each form.  I’d stick them in the “Small Group Notes” sections according to subjects.  Once the group had finished for the day, I’d immediately take notes on the rest of the lesson.  Here is an example of a completed one that I filled out after I had worked with a group.

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I’d photocopy (or have my EA photocopy) one for each member of the group and stick it in their individual tabbed section.  You can do this at the end of the week so that you aren’t making trips to the copy room every day.

So to recap: before the lesson the small group form is in the “small group notes section”.  After the lesson or at the end of the week, it moves to an “individual student tab”. 

There are plenty of other forms included in the sheet set, such as a pre/post test checklist, running record forms, and an individual form.  You will probably notice on the examples of these below, that there are a few boxes that talk about the students attitude.  I found that these are extremely important when working with a student one on one.  Let me give you an example.  I worked at a school with a lot of high achieving students.  Occasionally we would be working on a skill that was extremely frustrating for them because of the complex nature.  By noting the child’s attitude, I was able to determine whether we should stick with this level of curriculum, go back and review, or move ahead with something more challenging.  It was a way to also report to the parents how the students were feeling with the curriculum.  Some parents wanted to know how their students felt about reading or how they do when faced with a piece of challenging math.  By noting their attitude each time, I was able to relay that information to the parents and also to evaluate what steps to take next.  Too frustrated?  Then it must be too hard and we need to go back and review.  Just think of it as another method of differentiating.

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To note which section each of these would go into:  I would keep the pre/post test in the small group notes for reading or math depending on the standard.  I kept the RR forms in the Running Record tab.  And I put all the individual notes in each students individual tab.

I think the most important thing to remember about your Teacher Anchor is that it has to best fit YOU and YOUR STUDENTS.  That is a reason I sell each piece of the Anchor separately.  If you just need the classroom planning sheet set because you are a special area teacher or you don’t see small groups, then you can purchase it plus the binder alone.  Of course I encourage you to buy the complete product.  Only then can you ensure that you are painting an accurate picture of your classroom, your students, and you are always meeting their needs.

Should you have any questions about the Anchor or want to see any additional images, please contact me.  I am happy to help.  Also I love to see pictures of how you are using your Anchor, so use the hashtag #teacheranchor on social media.  Also stay tuned to Instagram @cjayneteach for some sneak peeks of the NEW Teacher Anchor accessories that will be releasing soon!!!

And don’t forget about the FREE PRINTABLE LIBRARY where you can download a grade book, Common Core Checklists for ELA and math, room design pages, home-school planners, and lots more.  All of them are meant to be used in conjunction with your Teacher Anchor.

Happy planning!

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