Tonight I wanted to share with you what I’ve been doing this week – “my latest project.”
Last year, a teacher I work with loaned me a book to read called The Book Whisperer, by Donalyn Miller. Have you read this? If not, go. read. it. It is wonderful and made me really reflect on the reading in my classroom and my classroom library:
This is what I know:
1) Students in classrooms with a large number of books are statistically better readers than students in classrooms with few books.
2) Children whose teachers give them lots and lots of time to read during each day are better readers than children who are limited to the amount of actual time they spend uninterrupted in reading.
3) Many of my students struggle with nonfiction reading comprehension. (Bear with me. There is a point to this fact of mine.)
4) Our classroom libraries should have a wide variety of both fiction and nonfiction.
5) The classroom library should be attractive, kid-friendly, manageable, organized, and interesting.
Enter my latest project. I felt very satisfied with numbers 1 & 2 and discouraged by number 3 over the past four years. The last time I taught first grade, I noticed my classroom had tons of books – but the majority were fiction books (See #3…hmm…correlation?). This past May, the same awesome teacher who loaned me Donalyn Miller’s book also gave me tons and tons of first grade nonfiction books for my library. Yay! Number 4 is solved. My classroom is finally about 40% fiction books and 60% nonfiction.
But my manageable, organized classroom library was not. My kids last year had a hard time returning books to baskets and mixed up the take-home books from the “leave at school” books. And those kiddos were second graders. I knew I needed to completely re-vamp my entire library system. And what better time than to start fresh in a new room?
I needed a system that allowed for leveled baskets because my first graders take home a different book to read each night from their independent level. However, I don’t believe in leveling my entire library. I don’t want my students to learn how to choose “just-right” books by remembering the color, letter, or number basket they are allowed to choose from. I want them to be successful at entering a library and choosing books that interest them. I make it clear to my kids that in the real world, books are not organized by color, letter, or number.
This is what my classroom looked like early in the week. Books were EVERYWHERE. Really. You can’t even see the piles and piles that are on the floor to the right of the picture.
Sirens. Dark clouds. Book tornado.
Reagan has done the same thing for take-home books in her product. I had more levels than her colors went up to so I used her template to add more colors on. I also created my own basket labels with her blank template and just added the DRA level and Guided Reading level to each label.
I’m soo excited about my new library system! It was A LOT of work but I’m happy that this is a system I will be able to use for years and years. (Because if fate allows, I will die happy in first grade for the rest of my teaching years!)
When I was finished, the tornado died down and I think the sky opened up (literally….after not having windows for 2 years, the sunshine that comes into my new room is a blessing haha!)