Welcome to my blog. I see this as a place to reflect on my teaching practices and to share ideas and strategies with other teachers.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Class Library

My class library is a very important part of my classroom!  I have dedicated a lot of time and money to its establishment and use.

Where to Find Books

There are many places to find great books for a class library.  I bought most of my books at yard sales, thrift stores, and eBay.  You can also get books for a class library by sending letters requesting donations from parents or other community members.  If you are affiliated with a local college or church, you can ask that they sponsor a book drive in honor of your classroom.

Organizing and Labeling Books

My class library consists of 3 book shelves and about 55 plastic shoe boxes (without the lids).  The plastic boxes are labeled according to book series or topics.  Then, the boxes are also labeled with a colored dot sticker that has a number.  The numbers on my book boxes go in order (across the first row of the first book shelf, the boxes are labeled 1, 2, 3, 4).  This makes it easier for students to find particular boxes and to return books to the correct box.

In each box, the books with the same topic / series are placed together.  All of the books in that basket are given a colored dot sticker to match the one on the front of the box.  So, all of the books in box 1 have a yellow dot with the number 1.  You can see this in the pictures below.  This makes it easy to tell if books are in the right place.

When I first began organizing my books for the class library, I started by looking for multiple books with the same topic, same genre, same author, or from the same series.  Books that didn't comfortably fit into one of those categories I left in another pile.  Here are some of my book box categories:

  • Holiday / Seasonal Books
  • Science books
  • Social Studies books
  • poetry
  • Character Traits and Feelings
  • Animal books (nonfiction)
  • True stories
  • Machines and Tools (including cars, trucks, etc.)
  • Sports books
  • Fairy Tales
  • Historical Fiction
  • Mysteries
  • Sweet Valley Kids series
  • Authur series
  • Magic Schoolbus series
  • Junie B. Jones series
  • Horrible Harry series
  • Clifford series
  • Magic Tree House series
  • Franklin series
  • Little Bill series
  • The Littles series
  • Arnold Lobel books
  • Dinosaur Cove series
  • Franny K. Stein series
  • Joke / Riddle books
  • Babysitter's Club Little Sister series
  • Amelia Bedelia series
The books which were left over (did not fit into one of the categories I had defined) were then divided into groups according to whether they were picture books or chapter books.  

I then put them into plastic boxes labeled "Fiction Chapter Books" or "Fiction Picture Books" and labeled them with colored dots  just as I did the others.  In the future, I hope to level and organize these books into boxes depending upon guided reading level, so that students can have an easier time choosing books that are just right for them.  

Student Use of Class Library

At the beginning of the school year, after basic routines and procedures have been established, I introduce the class library.  We discuss rules for the class library and why we have those rules.  We role play how to select a book, how to return a book, how to treat books, and how to do the class job of librarian (returning books to the boxes after students have turned them in).  Finally, I let students select a book to take to their desk.

Every month, I change out the holiday/seasonal books to keep them interesting.

I check periodically to be sure that students have only one book.  I also check periodically to be sure that students are selecting books which are appropriate for them.  I don't do this very often.  It is usually only something I do if I notice a child with a book that does not seem like a good fit for them.  Here are our rules for the class library.

New Year's Activities - 2014

New Year's Eve is today and I am frantically trying to get lessons ready for my return to school.  I will be returning to school (with students) Thursday.  So, I have planned fun, New Year's activities to share with my children.  Here are the activities I have planned:

New Year's Read Alouds

We will read aloud several books, including:

  • Shante Keys and the New Years Peas by: Gail Piernas-Davenport
  • Squirrel's New Year's Resolution by: Pat Miller (available as a read aloud video on YouTube.com)
  • The Night Before New Year's by: Natasha Wing

New Year's Resolution Foldables

Students will write new year's resolutions to match four different prompts on a foldable which shows the new year after folded.  If you are interested, they are available in my TPT store by clicking here.  The pack includes foldables for 2014-2020.

New Year's Celebration Kid with Party Hat

Students will trace an oval (for their face) on construction paper, draw facial features (and hair), and cut out the face.  Then, students will trace a triangle party hat on construction paper and cut it out.  Students will attach the party hat to the top of their cut out head with glue.  This will be displayed in the hallway next to the students' New Year's Resolution foldables (described above).

New Year's Color, Count, and Graph

I made these cute worksheets where students color New Year's themed graphics, count the graphics which are the same, and then graph them on a bar graph.  If you are interested, they are available in my TPT store by clicking here.  The pack includes sheets for 2014-2020.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Visual Rubric for Writing and Illustration Mini Posters

I have made it my own personal mission to change and improve my writing instruction and reading instruction this year.  So, I have spent a lot of time learning about different strategies teachers use and exploring Pinterest for great ideas!  On Pinterest, I came across a picture of a illustrated writing rubric created and handwritten by a teacher.  I loved the idea, so I made my own!  I plan to give students a handout with the illustrations to keep in their writing folders and also plan to print the mini posters to display in my writing center.  You can grab this set by visiting my TPT Store!