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.