Adventures in Literacy Land: classroom library

Showing posts with label classroom library. Show all posts
Showing posts with label classroom library. Show all posts

Is Your Classroom Your Happy Place?

Hello everyone!
 This is Laura from  Where the Magic Happens Teaching Blog.  Can you believe that I started school this week? Second grade is surely very different from 1st grade.
I spent the summer reading and learning the new set of standards, creating new materials, and visualizing what my new classroom was going to look like. I love the feeling of an empty classroom, the idea of a new beginning, and the potential and possibilities. More than anything, I kept on thinking (it was more like day dreaming), about a productive, brain friendly, and homey classroom.

It really starts with my classroom library. I have spent years (and tons of money and time) collecting the right books to reach ALL of my readers year after year. I truly believe that the concepts of classroom community and individuality begin with literature.  It is my  first goal, to show and provide my students with the opportunity to explore their own reading interests free from any constraints. 

Or like my little G would say: "for the fun of it!"

I try to build momentum by not opening the complete library to my students on the first week of school.  Instead, I open it gradually:
First the themes
Then the series
After this the nonfiction section
and so on...
 Since we have such a large classroom library, our books are displayed all over the room in colorful tubs that I got from the Target dollar spot!

Having an organized and quality classroom library makes me think that if nothing else, I am attempting  to create the right conditions for reading by my students.

Think about it! A strong classroom library:

  • Supports your literacy instruction in and out of your classroom.
  • Helps your students to learn about books and author's craft.
  • It also provides a central location for classroom resources... hello shared research!!
  • Serves as a place for students to talk about and interact with books
And you might think...
But how does she come up with the money to buy the books?
Well, let me just tell you: Scholastic points, yard sales, and The Goodwill are my friends! Last weekend for example, my local Goodwill had really great books for .50 a piece! It takes creativity and energy!!

Because my classroom is also really small this year, I had to become really creative too on finding a comfortable reading spot:

Two beach chairs, a lamp from the Goodwill, a cute rug from Walmart, some wooden letters and Voila! There you go!

Now, this is something to be really jelly about:
My school librarian is so fabulous and awesome. As this is my first year in 2nd grade, she has given me tons of suggestions about transitioning my students from easier picture books to  a bit-more-challenging chapter books.
One of the greatest suggestions that she gave me is to  do a classroom library scavenger hunt. This, in order to teach my students to identify different series, authors, themes, and topics.
Oh! And also to help my students keep books and display materials orderly!

So I do different types of  scavenger hunts:

Click HERE to download!

Click HERE to download!

Click HERE to download!

Click HERE to download!

Or all of them!

I give the students one bookmark and they explore the classroom library, once they find a book that matches one item on their bookmark, they bring me the book and they get a punch! These bookmarks match my classroom library book bin labels.

What is my goal with this?
I, more than anything, want to get my students motivated to read... and to read for fun. Throughout the year, I want to introduce them to authors, great series, themes, etc. Instead of giving them or leading them to a leveled book, I want them to be able to freely express about their  reading choices and pursue them.

They each will have their own book box. With the book boxes there are a couple of whole group lessons that need to be addressed:

  • Differences between picture books and chapter books
  • Choosing "just right" books (blog post and anchor chart on this coming up next week)
  • Keeping a balance in your book box
  • How to return books
  • Giving book recommendations

I would love to hear and learn from all of you! How do you organize your classroom library? What routines and mini-lessons do you teach to help your students be successful? What things do you do to foster reading motivation??

I can honestly say that there are many happy places for me: my mom's house, my boys' arms, the beach, the mountains, my own classroom!

Until next time!


Tools For Ear Readers

Hi everyone! Emily, from The Literacy Nest (formerly The Reading Tutor/OG) here. I'd like to talk about a phrase called ear reading today. Have you heard of it? Ben Foss, The author of The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan coined the phrase. Ear reading versus just eye reading has many benefits for your struggling readers. Read a quick excerpt from Ben:
The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blue Print to Renew Your Child's Confidence and Love of Learning:
A child with dyslexia will never eye-read as well as his peers, and that, I hope to reassure you, is fine. Yet all children need to be exposed to vocabulary and ideas to be successful in school. If your child was blind, providing text as audiobooks or Braille would allow her to read with her ears or with her fingers. No one would ever claim that a blind person was lazy or stupid for not reading text with her eyes. When I listen to audio, that’s ear reading. When I speed it up to four hundred words a minute, four times the pace of standard speech... I am leveling the playing field for me.* It’s not what the mainstream conceives of as reading. But it’s ear reading. It’s learning. It’s literacy.
(Link to Headstrong Nation)

What is ear reading?
Ear reading is simply having access to audio while reading a text. When a slower reader in your class is reading, having the additional audio and any other speech to text technology is a great way to accommodate them. For some people, it may be the only way they will be able to access (read and comprehend) text successfully. That's a pretty powerful statement. You can make this happen for them in your classrooms.

Who benefits?
Think of a child in your class who struggles to learn to read. You may have just asked them to retell events of a story of write a summary. Adding a writing task on top of remembering details they read only while 'eye reading' becomes monumental. Think of adding audio as a way to level the playing field for those children. They'll be able to listen successfully and then be able to complete that oral or written task. When you use audio, you can also train yourself to listen more rapidly by speeding up the text you to. You've heard of people taking speed reading courses, haven't you? Well, why not try speed listening? This may help older students learning to read. Watch a demonstration of it here. DEMO

How do I find audio books?
Since 1 in 5 students in your class are dyslexic, it is imperative to have audio text. If you have grant money or planning your school year budget, investing in audio books, a good listening center,            e readers, and headphones are worth every penny.
  • First, look into two sites: Learning Ally and Bookshare. Call to see if your state has funding money to provide one of these audio book sites in your classroom. Many have, but sometimes schools don't know about it. 
  • Many reading anthology series and text books come with audio CDs and access to read them online. As long as your district has purchased them you should be able to have them in your classroom. 
  • No listening center? Buy a pair of headphones and set a child up at a computer to read. If you have mobile tablets in your classroom, even better. I want to caution you that the voice on some e readers sounds robotic. Your child may not like having to hear a robot voice read to them. (Would you?) Always check if it's an adult with a pleasurable reading voice. 
  • Next, check some of the free sites online. Here is a pin from one of my Pinterest boards to access over 600 free audio books. 
  • Use your local library for books CD.
Have you tried using audio books with your students? How has it helped them? Please share in the  comments. Thank you for stopping by Literacy Land today!


Organizing Your Classroom Library

The task of organizing a classroom library can be SO daunting.  Where to begin?  How many tubs to do I need? What is the best way to sort my books?  How can I make it easy and inviting for my students?  This has been my summer task and today I am sharing with you how it is going.  Please keep in mind, that I am nowhere near done (it will take me ALL summer to organize the number of books that I have) but I am getting there!!

This is my confession to you!  I own so many books it is ridiculous!!  I have FIVE bookcases FULL at school and FOUR bookcases FULL at home.  (These are NOT small bookcases.) My husband swears that he will not buy me anymore bookcases because I will just fill them up!  This is terrible, but part of me cannot wait until my littlest son is older so that I can take all of my children's books from home into my school classroom library! My name is Jessica, and I am a book hoarder.  I also have a really hard time letting the kiddos touch my special favorite books (isn't that terrible?).  It truly is an addiction!

Yesterday, my friend Em shared with you a whole list of places to buy books.  Obtaining a full classroom library truly takes time and money (something that we teachers do not have a lot of).  We are helping you find some cheap places to gather these materials!  You can check out her list here.  And if you have any others to add, please let us know!  I know that here in Virginia, we have what is called the Green Valley Bookfair.  It is a serious addiction.  Every few months they open up this huge warehouse (it used to be a barn and they have had to add on to it) filled with discounted books.  Teacher's Paradise!  Do NOT let me in this place with a credit card!  (My husband only allows me to go twice a year!)

Since my classroom is currently being cleaned, I can't really get into it at the moment.  Instead, I have loaded up the car and brought some of them home.  I could only fit about half of them into the back of the van but it gives me a good start.

Next, I had to decide how I wanted to sort my books.  There are many ways to go about this and a lot of it depends on you and your school.  Personally, I like when my students can find books that interest them.  I want them to easily be able to find their favorite race car book or Pete the Cat.  The other thing that I want to consider is the reading levels of my books.  I have had years when I sorted my books strictly on book level and students were only allowed to choose from certain shelves that contained their level.  This is great for readability but not for interest.

This year, I have decided to do BOTH!  Each book will contain 2 stickers on the inside cover, one with the topic of the book and the other with the level of the book.  Books will physically be sorted by their topic but students (and I) will also be able to see what level the book is.  At my school, we use Fountas and Pinnell.  This is what I will be leveling my books by.  I prefer this leveling system to AR, grade level, and Lexiles.  I think that it considers the book as a whole better than other leveling systems.  It looks at the readability, content, vocabulary, and appropriateness of the book.  I do recommend looking to Lexiles for your outlying students however (older students reading at a low level, younger students reading at a high level). But that is a topic for a different day! =)

So, why am I choosing to sort using both concepts?  Many teachers do not believe in letting students know their reading level because they judge one another and themselves against their peers.  I get that.  I do.  I also get that students are going to do this regardless of us telling them their reading level or not.  I think that this strategy can be used appropriately and with gentle care, and can then be very successful in the classroom.  In my classroom, my students track their own progress throughout the school year, using this chart that I made.  You can pick it up for free at my store.

Guided Reading Student Goal Setting Chart

They always know what level they are.  We set goals together.  We discuss their reading progress together.  Please understand that I also spend a lot of time helping students to understand that they are capable and that everyone has strengths and weaknesses.  We celebrate each time that a student meets their goal and I put more emphasis on reading growth than on reading level.

Each student in my classroom has a book box.  They are allowed to choose 3 books from my library each week.  Two of these books must be within their reading level and one can be ANY level.  This is to give them the opportunity to just enjoy reading!  I have made my reading levels color coded and in groups so that students who are reading at a C, D, or E are all reading books with green stickers.  These students may choose any book with a green sticker.  Keep in mind that this should be their INDEPENDENT reading level, not their instructional level.  I plan to keep an index card paper clipped to the inside of the book box that will contain a sticker for the student's current level as a reminder for them.

So now that I have decided HOW I am going to sort, it is now time to do it.  Where to begin?  I find it easiest to begin with my books that are in a series.  These books are obviously going to go together.  Magic Tree House in one tub; Cam Jansen in another.  Little Bear in a tub; Frog and Toad in another.

I found these great tubs at the Dollar Tree and started sorting them.

Then I began labeling them.  I created these labels with the topic and a space that says "This book belongs to ________."  These went on the inside cover of the book.  (I didn't put them on front because I don't want it to be distracting to the students).   I will also place a matching sticker on the front of the basket that holds these books.  So a Magic Tree House sticker will go on the inside of the book AND on the tub holding the Magic Tree House books.

Next, I had to find the guided reading levels for each of the books.  I found that Scholastic Book Wizard had the majority of the levels that I needed.  Book Wizard even has an app now where you can scan the bar-code for easy look up.  I had a little trouble with the scanning, but since I was only looking at series books at this point it was easy to search Magic Tree House and find all of my levels.  Then I place the leveling sticker on the inside cover of the book under the topic sticker.

You can get the guided reading labels for free here!

Next, I started in on my picture books.  This part is still on-going.  Picture book topics come in a huge range and determining the topics is the most daunting task (for me anyway).  I am a bit of a perfectionist so I have a really hard time with this.  I think the easiest thing to do is clear a big space on the floor and spread them out.  Find a few books that are on a similar topic (probably an easy start would be animals) and put them into a basket.  Keep going until all books are "categorized."  Then go back and look at your baskets and see if any of your topics need to be broken up into smaller categories, such as farm animals and ocean animals.

You can see that I laid a piece of scrap paper with the topic written on it in front of each basket to remind me of its contents!

Once I have the topics labels in my picture books I will go back and add the level for each of these.  I have found that I have a lot of old books from the Rigby series as well as others.  These are obviously not going to show up in the Scholastic Book Wizard.  I will share with you below a few places that I have found for finding levels.  Please understand that there may be some discrepancy among these levels as they are not coming directly from the Fountas and Pinnell website.  Sometimes you just have to use your own judgement.

A-Z Teacher Stuff
Hubbard's Cupboard
The Classroom Library Company - This one had my Superphonics book levels from Rigby
The Story Box - McGraw-Hill
Sundance - Little Red Readers
Rigby and Harcourt Levels
Conversion Chart
McGraw-Hill Science Readers - grade 1
McGraw-Hill Science Readers - grade2
Rigby Grade Level Chart

If you have a series of books that you cannot find the levels for, my best advice is to find the publisher's website.  I was amazed at how often I was able to do a search on the company website and find the reading level right there!

Have one basket just for damaged books - The Book Hospital - and one basket just for returns!  This is a classroom job in my room.  My librarian helpers return the books to their correct baskets simply by matching up the topic pictures on the inside cover of the book!  Every week or so, I will fix any damaged books placed in the book hospital basket and move them to the return basket for my librarian helpers to put away.

Now, once I have topic stickers and guided reading stickers in each of my books, my library should be able to run itself. Students can easily find the books that are their level.  They can easily find books of interest to them.  They can easily PUT THE BOOKS AWAY to the correct basket!

We want to know how YOU organize YOUR library!  Take pictures of your classroom library and post them on INSTAGRAM or our Facebook Page.  Tag it with #LitLandLibrary.  I will be back with you next month to share my final library pictures as well as some of yours!