Anchor Activities
Anchoring activities (Tomlinson, 2001) are specified ongoing activities that students work on independently at the beginning of class, when the student finishes their assigned work to a high level of quality, or when they are stuck on part of a task and are waiting for assistance. Anchoring activities were developed to help teachers deal with dead time that occurs when students finish tasks at different times, to provide ongoing tasks that are related to the content and/or skills that students need, and to free up the teacher to work with groups of students or individuals while giving the others something meaningful to work on.

Questions to consider while planning anchor activities:
  • How is this connected to my content?
  • Is the activity rigorous and deep enough to keep students engaged?
  • How is the activity differentiated?
  • How will I hold students accountable?
  • What instruction do I need to give the WHOLE class so all students can complete the activity independently?
  • What are my "Must Do" and "May Do" anchor activities?
Examples of Anchor Activities


Cubing examples with technology:
Ideas for cubing:
Example of cubing for History:

Learning Menus

A type of learning that provides a "menu" of activities. Some of these activities all students must do while some allow for choice. A menu would have a main dish, side dishes and desserts. For older students the agenda would be imperatives, negotiables, and options.


Think Dots
After a unit is presented, Think Dots, are a great way for students to construct meaning for themselves about the concept they are studying. Teacher defines readiness levels, interests or learning styles in the class. Each student is given a set of activity cards on a ring, a die, and an activity sheet. Each student rolls the die and completes the activity on the card the corresponds to the dots thrown on the die. Complete activity on activity sheet.
Think Dots Template
Plant Think Dot

Tic-Tac-Toe or Think-Tac-Toe

Students choose three activities going across, going down or going diagonally. This gives students choices and gives teachers some control of the activities that the students choose. In this format you can be sure that any set of choices will include a variety of types of activities. You can also make sure that not matter which configuration students choose they will be completing activities that address the standards.

Example of a Tic-Tac-Toe for a secondary social studies class.

Think Tac Toe Assessment Chart Think Tac Toe for Student Choice Activities Multiple Intelligence Technology Tools
Examples: Think Tac Toe Example 1 Think Tac Toe Example 2 Think Tac Toe Example 3
Rubrics: Rubric Guidelines Rubric Maker #1 Rubric Maker #2 Rubric Maker #3