New "series" coming on the blog for the next few weeks. As I'm able to get into my room and start setting up, I'll be taking pics of different things in my room and sharing why I do things the way that I do.
Today I'm starting with my classroom library. There are always debates and questions online about the best way to organize a classroom library and, over the years, I've tried all of them...
I used to have my library complexly organized by AR level. This was in the pre-blog days, so I wasn't in the habit of taking billions of classroom photos. My first year teaching, I had a small library. I had baskets with labels on the front and all yellow and green dot books went in one basket. All blue and red in another. Orange and black and pink were together in one basket. That year I collected so many books so, my 2nd year, I changed it up! I spray painted baskets according to AR colors (yellow, green, red, blue, orange, black, pink) and books were just in their baskets by color. I had this system for another year or so.
And then I had an epiphany.
When my library was organized by AR color, I was teaching my students that the very first thing we have to consider when choosing a book is the "color" or level we are at. I wasn't teaching kids to be voracious readers because of things they liked or were interested in. Instead, I was teaching them that enjoying a book is second to selecting one at your level.
So, then everything changed.
For years now I have organized my classroom library (which is now HUGE) by topic or theme.
Each topic or theme has its own basket, which is numbered. Currently, I have 34 numbers... but some have more than 1 basket... for example, I have a TON of non-fiction animal books (#17), so there are 2 baskets with that label. The 19s are all about historical figures. So, 19A is historical men. 19B is historical women. 19C is historical events (Titanic, wars, etc...). Within each basket are all of the books about that topic or theme. Each book has a sticker with the matching basket number to make putting things away a breeze. Books are also color coded for AR.
So now my students can first find baskets about things they are interested in reading. Then they can easily find things at their own levels by looking at AR colors.
This has become a very "soap box" issue for me. As someone who has a definite love/hate relationship with AR at times, I HATE when students ask "how many points" a book is before I even read it to them. Or they are afraid to read a book because it isn't AR. Or they'll read any book in their color, so long as they can take the quiz on it... not even caring whether they enjoy the read or not! I have seen that, having my library organized like this, helps to take the emphasis off of colors and levels and really turn kids on to things they are interested in.
So, there are my two cents. And that's why I do what I do! Feel free to grab the button up at the top, post about why you do what you do in your classroom library, and link up below! I hope you'll join in and share your rationale behind your organization!