Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Ditched the Dewey: A personal journey of making the switch

After 10 years of teaching I landed my dream job of being a teacher librarian! When I took the position we were still using card catalog! (I am not talking electronic card catalog either) That first year students were signing their names on the check out cards and I was stamping them with a return date. I am not kidding I still have the stamp:) To my horror the library was arranged & color coded by reading levels. I knew things had to change. My first goal was to raise enough funds, beg, borrow & plead for an electronic cataloging system. Once that goal was accomplished I took my summer break to enter books into the system. As I was doing that I arranged the library by the Dewey Decimal System. Now I was on the right track and doing everything by the book and by what I was taught while obtaining my Master's Degree. Then the debates started about ditching the Dewey. At first my thoughts were purely selfish. There was no way I was going to catalog my books again and rearrange the library!!!! It would be a shame to ditch the Dewey. There is so much curriculum out there and I have spent so much time on teaching this system to my students (again these were pretty selfish thoughts).

I began to focus on my library program and not the way the books were arranged. I began implementing centers (thanks to Cari Young's book "The Centered School Library" ) and things are going way better than I expected. Students use to complain if they had to miss P.E. Now they complain if they have to miss library. (that absolutely melts my heart) Now that my program was taking off I decided to revisit the Dewey debate again. I was getting all my information from blogs and journal articles. What I really needed was the opinions of my colleagues and of my students. They were the ones benefiting from my program and everything I do is to enrich their teaching and learning experiences. So I did some soul searching and asked myself "Why are you adamant about keeping the Dewey Decimal system?". Here is what I came up with:
1. Every is doing it (so I thought)
2. I am preparing them to be lifelong learners so they need to know the Dewey Decimal in order to find books at the Middle School, High School, College & Public Libraries. 

Two reasons! That was it. Two reasons! Reason #1, I know better than to "stick" with the crowd. I didn't want to go against them but I wanted to stand out and do what was best for my program.  Reason #2 I visited and talked with other local librarians (we only have 4 teacher librarians including myself and 1 public librarian) My question was "When my students come to you are they able to locate books on their own?"  The answer was not what I was expecting, "I wouldn't know because we can't get passed them asking me first" or "my easy section is not set up by the Dewey Decimal". I know my students know how to find their own books I have taught them and they do it in my library. Talking about being frustrated! 

After 12 years in the library I have decided to ditch the Dewey. My oldest son is a Sophomore in college and gets everything he needs from the library's online data base. He doesn't use the Dewey Decimal system. My oldest daughter is a Senior in high school and orders books from Amazon or shops at book stores. She doesn't use the Dewey Decimal system. My youngest daughter is in third grade and loves the new set up because she can easily find books that interest her. 

The world is changing and we have to be willing to change too. Change is hard (especially for a veteran teacher like myself). But my passion is my students and if I have to ditch the Dewey to meet their needs then so be it. I now have time to focus on their needs.  When you enter my library you will see problem solving, text engagement, expressing learning through technology, building story settings with Legos, researching and writing. You will also see students reading to self, listening to reading, putting on a puppet show or using the flannel board to retell a story. 

An added bonus is how cute my library looks with colorful totes holding books. And adorable labels from Jane Loretz!

I don't think anyone can tell you whether to ditch the Dewey or not. Every library and situation is unique and different. I had spent many years soul searching and came up with a conclusion that met the needs of my school community (a very small PreK-5 school) Do what works for you and your program! Best of Luck!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Enter at Your Own Risk!

When you walk into Meigs North Library you will see students sharing knowledge and learning with one another. You will also see them using trusted resources to find information & using technology to express themselves. I feel it is important to make the most of the time you have with your students. That's why I tried to create a warm, stimulating and safe learning environment so my students can be actively engaged when they visit the Library.

I would love to see some of your Library Centers in Action!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Library Centers for My "Lucky" Little Learners!

My students were Super Excited when they entered the Library this week. I wanted to share with everyone how easy it is to set up Centers in the Library.

This is one of three Research Centers.  All you need is a jar of pencils, the "I Can" sign & the trivia questions. I put the trivia questions on a clip board and placed the clip board in the green basket. This center is geared toward my older students. Check out the BIG HUGE monitor! I promise I am working on getting new monitors ;)

This is another Research Center. If you look closely you will see I added 2 St. Patrick's Day books, the "I Can" sign, a jar of pencils, copies of  "Three Interesting Facts I Learned" document & a pack of post it notes.  I like to use post it notes in place of worksheets to cut down on paper and copying. However, I like to display their findings so I have a large sheet of butcher paper titled "Look at the Cool Things We Learned about St. Patrick's Day". The students stick the post it note on the butcher paper for all to see. This center is geared toward my younger students.
This is the favorite of all three Research Centers. I have displayed the "Question of the Day". The blue bucket contains strips of paper where students answer the question and site their source. The students will fold their answers and place them in the small colorful container. I draw a paper each day from the container and if the question is answered correctly I will announce the student's name over the intercom. The student is asked to come to the Library to choose a small little prize. (I keep a prize cabinet stocked with freebies & lots of goodies from Scholastic)
This is my Listening Center. All you need is a listening device, headphones, the "I Can" sign, a jar of pencils, the Story Map documents, and post it notes. I will write a variety of Titles on chart paper. Students will place their post it notes under the Title of the Book they chose to listen to.

All you need for this center is the "I Can" sign, copies of the "Recording Sheets" inside plastic sleeves, Clip Boards, Dry Erase markers, Challenge sheets & a St. Patrick's Day book. Don't forget to Print, Laminate, Cut Out & Hide the words around the Library. My younger learners LOVE Write the Room!

I displayed the "I Can" sign & a St. Patrick's Day book. Cut apart copies of the bookmark & add a basket of crayons & TA DA! A Bookmark Center!

My Students & I LOVE our little Maker Space Center. The challenge is to build a "Leprechaun Trap". I have a large Art Cart with tons of supplies such as paperclips, tape, glue, paint, construction paper, recycled items, rubber bands, straws, etc..... Students can use anything from the cart to complete the challenge.  I display the completed traps on a table in the hallway.

On the right hand side of the picture you will notice a couple of bean bags and Reading spots. I always have a "I Can Read to Self" sign displayed in the windowsill along with Whisper Phones. Sometimes I will pull books and place in a bucket for them to choose from.

Library Centers have been a game changer for my Library Program!
I hope this post inspires you to give Library Centers a try! I would love to hear what's going on in your Library this month!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Getting Reading for St. Patrick's Day in the Library!

I am SUPER EXCITED about my centers this month! Grab this pack at my TPT store!

 I have included directions and suggestions with each activity.
This is the Write the Room activity. The students will be searching for action verbs.  After they find all six words they can complete one of the challenge activities.
     I am going to have a Lego Challenge Center. Students will try to create something related to St. Patrick's Day or recreate something I have created. There are three blank boxes on the "I can" sign so you can insert your own pictures.
     I cannot wait to see what my students create at the Maker Space center. Their challenge will be to create a Leprechaun Trap.
     I also included an iPad Choice board you can display at your iPad center.
     I always offer a Read to Self & Listening Center so I included some "I can" signs for those as well.
Research, Research, Research!!!!!

I included THREE research options.
1.  Students can look through books and find three interesting facts about St. Patrick's Day.
2.  Students can use the computer and answer 10 trivia questions.
3.  I can display a Question of the Day. My students love the Question of the Day/Week center because they have a chance to win a small prize.  I have included directions and everything you will need for this center.

Don't forget to display a few St. Patrick's Day books at each center. (Make sure you display only the nonfiction ones at your research center)  Hope this helps to bring some excitement to your Library!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Reward Days are the Best Days

Sometimes we have to take a day and reward students! I reward students every nine weeks for their Reading Efforts. This started out as a something we did for the Accelerated Reading Program. Since our system is still using AR I try to implement additional goals or goals in place of AR points. Such as: Reading 20 Minutes a Day, Reading 1 Book from each Genre, etc.....
(I am not 100% against AR and I do see some positive aspects but that is a Blog Post for a different day)

I tested the waters a few years ago by uploading a free Halloween Writing Center activity to TPT. I have learned a lot since then and have decided to sell some of my creations. I am extremely new to being a TPT seller but I hope to get into a routine of selling the products I have made. You can find this product for FREE at my TPT store.
TPT Store:

At the beginning of the 9 weeks I post the flyers announcing the event in prominent areas of the school. I also check in with their reading efforts during their Library class. I try to make the event as special as possible by allowing students to bring a pillow & blanket and a bottled drink. We also collect tickets at the door before the students get settled in for the big event. I begin popping popcorn about 30 minutes before the first session and continue to pop throughout the day so I highly recommend volunteers on this day. (Our principal just bought us a bigger and better Popcorn Machine! YAY!!!!!) I am fortunate to have a great group of "Special Teachers" to work with. We cancel Special classes on this day and they help monitor the students and pop & distribute the popcorn. I could not make this day possible without them.  The little girl in the turquoise top with the great big smile is my youngest daughter :)

I highly recommend obtaining a Movie License. With a license you have the reassurance of showing a movie legally for non-teaching activities. They also have great programming ideas. How do you reward your students for their reading efforts?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

 I love Read Across America Week because we take the full week to honor Dr. Seuss and celebrate Reading in a lot of fun cool ways! In addition to dressing up each day I have several activities planned for the Library this week.

#1. Write the Room Center

I placed several Dr. Seuss books around the Library along with the FREE write the room card. Students love Write the Room! It is just like a scavenger hunt:) Write the Room sheets were placed inside a plastic sleeve and clipped to a clip board that I got by using my Scholastic reward dollars.
(Click the picture to find this Freebie from Cindy Lous's 1st Grade Whos)

#2. iPad Center

Students took selfies using the Dr. Seuss Camera. They saved the picture to be used in the Storymaker app. I printed the pictures and may use them in a display or turn them into bookmarks.

#3 Seuss Stack the Hat STEM Challenge

I cannot wait for the students to try this one!

I love my Dr. Seuss area! Our talented Music Teacher made the wreath for me out of an old Dr. Seuss book. 

These are just a few of the centers going on in the Library this week. What is everyone else doing?