Reusable I-Charts


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 I love classroom design.  Put me in any school and you'll find me peeking through the open doors to see what other teachers are doing: How is the furniture arranged? What's posted on the wall? How is student work displayed?

I-charts are a big part of classrooms these days. Since they take up wall space, I think it's important for them to be attractive.  With a little thought and planning, we can enhance our classroom with meaningful charts that are appealing too. 

Cheryl Fox, my Daily 5 buddy, not only teaches but is also a busy mom of two young boys. She needs to maximize every minute spent on routine teacher chores. Last fall she made permanent I-charts on whiteboards so they could be reused year after year. 

At a back-to-school sale, Cheryl purchased five whiteboards for five dollars each. Next, she printed permanent headers for the top section and added the big I for independence with thin black paper strips and double-stick tape. 

The whiteboards came with Velcro strips for hanging. Unfortunately, not all of the wall-side strips stuck; a couple of boards fell to the floor. To solve this problem, Cheryl stapled the sticky Velcro strip to the wall. She hasn't had one fall since. The advantage of using Velcro to hang your boards, instead of a nail, is that you have a little wiggle room. If necessary, you can move the boards up or down a bit to get them exactly in line with each other. 

When it came time to record teacher and student responsibilities with the children, Cheryl used a thin whiteboard marker for writing. It worked like a charm. Now, on the last day of school, she can take her I-charts down and wipe off the dry erase writing, leaving the boards instantly ready for next year. Fast and easy!

Trish's paper I-charts

The I-charts in my room are made from large sheets of colored paper. I also have permanent headings made with a font that looks like handwriting. I like having empty, title-only I-charts up at open house in the fall. It gives families something to wonder about. But like Cheryl, I don't want to start from scratch every year. Instead, I cut clean colored paper to fit over the bottom of each chart. I staple it to the old I-chart to cover last year's writing.  Now it looks like a brand-new chart!

Each year, teachers have more responsibilities. Let's band together and use all the shortcuts we can to save time and energy. As the popular saying goes, "Work smarter, not harder."  Here's to easy I-charts.




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