Friday, January 10, 2014

Book Shopping Day

My classroom library used to be the favorite hang-out spot in our room.  Unfortunately there was very little reading or even selection of books going on.  Every year I had students who spent large blocks of their independent work time talking while they pretended to be searching for a new book to read.  Not only did they waste their work time, but they disrupted those who were trying to work.  The other issue was that the library was always a mess.

One night, I complained about this problem during a discussion on #4thchat.  If you aren't familiar with #4tchat, it is an online meeting and discussion held every Monday evening on Twitter.  It is made up mostly of fourth grade teachers, and each week has a different topic for discussion.  It takes place 8:00 eastern/7:00 central time.  A few people in my PLN talked about limiting visits to the library and having book shopping times.  I was somewhat skeptical, but I decided to give it a try.

I've been teaching for 27 years, and over the years, I have accumulated a large collection of books.  I used to have them organized in tubs by genre.  The problem was that students had trouble getting them returned to the correct tub, and it had become very disorganized.  I also did not have space for all the tubs.  Instead, I reorganized the books according to fiction and non-fiction, and with the exception of the tubs on the top of the bookcases. I got rid of the tubs and placed the books upright on the shelves.  I also made curtains for the front of the bookcases. The curtains  have a a simple rod pocket on top, and I hang them with an inexpensive tension rod.

When it's time for book shopping, I remove the curtains.  Groups of students have 5 to 10 minutes to look for books they are interested in reading.  We use a pocket chart for our check out system.  Each student has a pocket labeled with their name.  They write down the titles of the books they are borrowing on a 3 x 5 card, and place it in their pocket.

This has worked amazingly well. We have book shopping twice each week, and now when it is their turn to shop, they look for books instead of just hanging out talking.  Not only that, but independent work time is much more productive.  I thank my PLN for this excellent idea.

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