Virtual Anchor Charts Meet “Micro-progressions”

During the closing keynote of Saturday’s Educator Collaborative Gathering, Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts walked through a few tools that both teachers and students could use to amplify their learning. We are inundated with information, day in and day out, that sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to keep track of it all. While a longer, more reflective post on their closing will come in the next few days, I decided to put a tool I learned about during their session to work for me sooner rather than later—as in, today (talk about DIY teaching 🙂 ).

What’s this tool? A micro-progression. 

According to Maggie, “a micro-progression is a progression of a skill that becomes more sophisticated with each level. At the end of the day, skill performance—whether you are structuring a piece of writing, or punctuating a sentence, or making a prediction—skill performance isn’t black and white. It’s not that I either predict really well or not at all. There is a level of performance with that skill.”

Kate goes on to add that “kids know when they’re not doing [the skill]. And they also sometimes get models of what it looks like to do it [in an] awesome [way], but they don’t always get a sense of what is the next step for me as I’m working.”

Screenshot of Kate and Maggie's examples of a micro-progression in their demonstration notebook.

Screenshot of Kate and Maggie’s example of a micro-progression from one of their demonstration notebooks.

My ninth graders are currently participating on a discussion board each night to reflect on our shared text, Purple Hibiscus. I decided to “flip” my classroom by having kids actively engaged in deep reading (I hope) during class while discussing the book online. We are only on Day Two of our flipped model and so far, it’s been both scary and eye-opening.  When it’s all over, I’ll reflect more on the experience, but for now, back to microprogressions.

One thing that I have noticed in student writing is students’ continued difficulty in embedding textual evidence. (It is one of the Circles of Teacher Hell, right next to the MLA header and main idea v. theme.) Like Kate said, for the most part, it’s not that students either embed or don’t embed textual evidence, but rather that their embedding skills exist on a continuum, a progression. I have spent a lot of time showing students models of correct ways to embed textual evidence—and many variations of embedding—only to have mixed results. Some students are naturals; they can embed text as easily as they can recite their home address. And some students’ attempts at embedding textual evidence feel like nails on chalkboard (and I really hate chalk). And then there are many, many students whose skills are are somewhere in between.

So I spent tonight creating something I’m calling a “Virtual Anchor Chart” (charts are another one of the tools Maggie and Kate discussed, so more on that later) that shows what I think is a decent micro-progression of text embedding skills. I actually pulled one of the examples straight out of a discussion comment one of my students made yesterday.

Integrating Quotes (2)

In their demonstration, Maggie and Kate used three levels. I decided to use the five-star level system because I really was seeing a bigger range of skill development among my students.

Because this is a “virtual” anchor chart, I can post it right up in our digital classroom. As Maggie and Kate pointed out, charts can help students “hold on to their learning.” As a HS teacher, I’ve never had any training in how to create charts, anchor or otherwise. But this year, I’ve made a concerted effort to create anchor charts for my classroom. (I’m still terrible at them, BTW, but I’m optimistic I’ll get better. I have a growth mindset, after all).

Now, instead of me pointing to an anchor chart in the classroom, I can “point” to this virtual anchor chart in our digital classroom by commenting on a student post and providing a direct link to the anchor chart.

Will this work? I’m hopeful. 🙂

BTW, if you haven’t seen Kate and Maggie’s EdCollab session, it’s great! I can’t wait for their book DIY Literacy to come out in a few weeks!

UPDATED: Some people have asked what I used to make my micro-progression. I used Canva; in fact, I use Canva for all my visuals!  CLICK HERE for a printable of the How to Integrate Quotes micro-progression. If you do use it in any way, I would love to hear how. Or if you make your own series of micro-progressions related to embedding quotes, please share! We can all always use additional examples. Feel free to use the comments below or message me –


  1. Danielle

    Oh how I love this!!!! It’s fantastic! I’m wondering if there was a possibility of making that micro progression as a printable. I could recreate it myself but I love the look of yours.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Allison Marchetti

    Loved seeing Kate and Maggie’s closing session put into practice immediately. Your microprogression chart is useful and beautiful. How did you use it? Throughout the lesson? In conjunction with other materials — like a Powerpoint? Also, what are your thoughts on the similarities between microprogression charts and rubrics? Seems to me they could help students and teachers develop very clear rubrics.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Allison!!! I made it because I noticed that in our online discussion (Schoology) that some students were not integrating their quotes in their daily responses. They had done 2 of the 8 responses so far so I needed to intervene. I projected the chart during class and talked through each level briefly. Then I asked them to go back to their response from the night before and revise as needed—that I would not grade them until after they had a chance to revise. Many went back and revised how they embedded their quotes. Since then, not only have I seen a lot fewer floating quotations, but even the students who were already using intro clauses, etc., got better.

      I had already taught how to embed text earlier this year, so this chart served more as a reminder. That said, I think some students actually learned it better this way. Next year, I think I will probably have a series of examples, from 1 to 5 stars, but I won’t have the stars indicated. I may put each one on a separate piece of paper and ask students to rank them (which I think should be easy), but then to articulate/reflect what differentiates the 1 star from the 2 star, the 2 star from the 3 star, and so on.

      Yes – completely agree about the rubrics. I think that with a clear microprogression – rubric connection, students could evaluate themselves using the rubric. That moves our evaluation as teachers from evaluating whether or not I could see if students applied the skill to whether or not the students themselves could evaluate if/how they applied the skill.


  3. Karen S

    I love this chart. I’m planning to use it tomorrow to help my eighth grade with research writing.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Callie Sockett

    Thanks – using it as a visual to remind my Grade 9s and Grade 12s (both classes are about to write literary essays) about the importance of blending quotations into their writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Michelle @litlearningzone

    Hi Tricia,

    Our #cyberPD group is reading DIY Literacy this summer and sharing our thoughts online. I was collecting micro-progression ideas and examples to share with the group after our Twitter chat and found your micro-progression. I was hoping with your permission to include your micro-progression with credit to you on our #cyberPD Padlet of Skills/Strategies that can be developed by Micro-Progressions. (

    Let me know! Thanks so much! Love how you used Canva to create the visual chart too!


    • Hi, Michelle! Thanks! And of course you can add it to the Padlet – I hope others find it helpful!:) Tricia


      • Michelle

        Great! Thank you! I think others will love the variation of your visual micro progression and benefit from seeing another example to learn from and try ourselves! Much appreciated!


  6. LA Whitehead

    Im currently at this training right this second! Although I will use some if the Roberts’ suggestions & tools from their book, more than likely, this will need to be digested over the upcoming summer. I find it hard to absorb new info, practice it in a PD & then immediately put it in practice.


    • LA Whitehead

      Sorry, *of. . . .So I genuinely understand why our kids who dont have the greatest foundation struggle so vehemently.


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