Skip to main content

Keeping Track of a Classroom Library

This past year, I used Booksource's Classroom Organizer to keep track of the 1,200+ titles in my classroom library. (There's also a mobile app that comes in really hand when scanning new books.) I wanted to share a few things that I learned along the way, including the tweaks I might make for next year.

Double Check to Ensure Check-In:
Unless the window pops up to ensure that a book has been checked in, it hasn't been. While I think this may be because of the somewhat unreliable wireless I have in my classroom, I'm finding that many titles that are "checked out" are really back on the shelves. Don't move on to the next book to return until this message pops up! 

On a similar note, I began placing books alphabetically on shelves by titles instead of authors. This helped a lot with the report that I could pull of "Current Books Checked Out" because it is organized by title and doesn't include the authors' names. I realized that students might have the authors' names memorized, so this was a better way to organize my shelves to utilize this app.

Label Multiple Copies:
Keeping track of who has a copy of a particular book can get complicated when you have multiple copies of books. I've begun labeling books with a number and making sure I enter that into the system. You can have students select which copy of the book they have before they check it out, and this helps with maintaining records and for making sure students have returned books. 

Sometimes Students Skip Check-Out:
Toward the beginning of the year, I would routinely turn on one of my classroom computers and pull up the Classroom Organizer website for students. I noticed that the number of students using the system to check these books out declined when I stopped pulling up the website for them. I would recommend having this site handy and available for students. The more time they take to access the site, the less time they are spending on reading--and that's what matters most!

Make Time for Regular Reflection:
For students' end-of-year portfolios, I was able to print out a list of all the titles they had checked out during the school year. I got to see some amazing realizations of the types of books kids noticed they liked. This was extremely handy, as some kids forgot that they had tried certain books. I'll keep doing this again, but make sure I keep the lessons learned above (skipping check-out) in mind. 

Teach Shelving Methodology:
I realized too late into the year that I didn't cover genre. I assumed that students would know the difference between realistic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, thriller, etc. This must be one of the same reasons that the school library is so overwhelming: the reason why books are grouped together is mystifying. For this coming fall, I think I will work to group books by genre and by "big ideas," like Penny Kittle has advocated for the in the past. 


Popular posts from this blog

Targets and Time

I just finished Cris Tovani and Elizabeth Birr Moje's No More Telling as Teaching: Less Lecture, More Engaged Learning from Heinemann's Not This But That series edited by Ellin Oliver Keene and Nell Duke.

Needless to say, I pick up anything that's by Tovani and Moje because of Tovani's belief in the workshop model and Moje's extensive work in both disciplinary and out of school literacies.

After finishing this quick read, I've been thinking a lot about two things.

First, how we spend our time matters. I get less than 60 minutes with students each hour. Time is a hot commodity! Because of that, I am constantly looking at ways to maximize instruction. If I pass papers back this way or if I move this to this point in time, I can gain another minute. And those minutes add up! Sometimes, however, it feels like there is just never enough time. All teachers know that. In fact, I've yet to meet a teacher admit that she or he has too much time with students, especia…

A Lasting Impact

I love graduation season. It's a time to celebrate hard work and academic achievement. For many students in both my hometown and where I work, many students who are graduating are the first in their families to graduate from high school.

As teachers, sometimes we forget that. I've been guilty of assuming before that because we're past Y2K that everyone has a high school diploma. I remember my own realization when I found out my mom's mom hadn't graduated high school. Encouraged by a doctor to drop out (I remember her vaguely mentioning something about an enlarged heart), she was told that she wouldn't live to be 18. Naturally, she carpe diem-ed. (Well, there wasn't much living it up. She married and had five kids. She also lived to her late 70s.)

So as I sat on the dais at my hometown's graduation ceremony, I reminded myself to remain calm about the air horns, the catcalls, the shouting. High school graduation might not seem like a big deal to me (everyo…

Stop Ignoring Research

I just finished Kylene Beers and Robert Probst's Disrupting Thinking. I keep thinking about page 103 in the text, where they discuss the idea of "research-based practices" and how many of us "are willing to ignore what we know from research." They mention teaching grammar in isolation, spelling lists, lack of conferring in writing classrooms, monologic talk, prescribing novels without choice--the list goes on and on. I get frustrated because I hear from other teachers often excuses for why they do these things. And even I have felt forced to resort to some of these practices at times because it's what kids have been conditioned to expect at school. It is amazing how quiet a classroom can be when you give every student a worksheet. And if compliance is our end goal, then a worksheet works. But if we want students to undertake meaningful work that's often the work supported by best practices, we're going to have to be willing to get a whole lot more u…