Saturday, September 8, 2012

Conquering Library Organization

Helping students to understand library organization is a difficult task – and the one that I am working on this week.  Part of what I really focus on early is trying to help students feel empowered to find the things that they are most interested in reading.  Because the library was recently renovated, I don’t have all the signage up to help the kids find the things they’re looking for – but it’s also a bonus because they are paying much closer attention to the lesson, and I see many of them really trying to remember the Dewey numbers they are most interested in.
How to find books in the library – by grade

K: For the Kindergarten kids, it will be a long time before I actually start talking about library organization.  This week we read But Excuse Me, That is my Book one of my Lauren Child favorites.  In our discussion of the story we focused on problem and solution.  I began our discussion by asking the kids of they know what problems are.  They did an awesome job of coming up with examples – like “sometimes I can’t see the pages of the book because another person is in the way”.  We then talked about what a solution is – and they again came up with great examples: “I can ask the person in front of me to scoot to the side a little or  sit criss-cross applesauce”.  After that, the easily recognized that Lola’s problem was she couldn’t find the book she wanted – and Charlie’s solution – to try something new – was a good one.  We were then able to talk about how our library has lots of books and what we can do if the book we want the most isn’t available. 
1st Grade: The first graders learned about choosing books that are right for them.  We went through part of a powerpoint on Finding a Book and watched a BrainPop  video on choosing books, talked about the “five finger rule”, and I briefly explained that the Everybody section is in ABC order.  They then practiced ABC order using a handout – you could really use any appropriate ABC order worksheet.
2nd Grade: We got a little more in depth about library organization.  I explained the “five finger rule” to them, and then we went through the entire Finding a Book presentation (we skipped the brainpop video).  My original PowerPoint was confusing for some of my second graders, and I modified it after the first lesson to describe the call numbers like it was a street address.  For my second class, the lesson went much more smoothly and I felt like I much more successfully communicated the idea of call number to them.  During checkout time, the second graders demonstrated their understanding by organizing book spines in ABC order that I made and laminated.
3rd -5th Grade: I created a Prezi and Powtoon to introduce the nonfiction section of the library. 

I also created some nonfiction book spines so that the kids could practice putting things in number order.  I made a lot of spines so we could have a lot of different combinations.  Each table got an envelope with about 10 laminated spines in it.  For 4th and 5th grade, we took it a step further and they filled out a worksheet I called Where Can I Find It? They used a Nonfiction Cheat Sheet for the assignment. 

When I’m finished going over this with all the classes, I’m going to post the Nonfiction Cheat Sheets throughout the library so the kids can reference them quickly if they’re in a hurry to find something and don’t have time to use the online catalog.  The kids are really getting a kick out of the Powtoons I’ve made.  I tried to keep it short and focus on the topics I know the kids are interested in the most.  I uploaded the Powtoon to Youtube and then linked it to our library page so the kids can watch it again if the forget. (I’m still under free Powtoon membership and right now the upload time is unlimited – so I’m taking advantage!)
When I have signage up in the library, I think the kids will find it much easier to locate the books they're most interested in - so that is on my to do list for next week!
What things do you do to help the kids find what they’re looking for in the library?


  1. I did about 3 Dewey lessons in a row- a unit of it, for 3rd through 5th. There is a nice white board lesson with Duck Duck Dewey that introduces the concept and details what's available in each section- I had the students take turns manipulating the board and reading aloud to keep them focused. The Dewey Rap (teacher tube) is totally necessary, the students begged to see it every week after its debut. We looked at Do we know Dewey? site. Order in the Library and they were able to print a certificate at the end which was a HUGE hit. Fribble has a Dewey adventure in one chapter of The Silver Key and there is a nice comic that goes along with it- I let students read it aloud going round the room and they were able to go back and color it later as time allowed. The Shelf Elf helps out also introduces Dewey concepts and there is a nice worksheet related which allows students to write a book from each section- I challenged them to keep the sheet in their library folder, read a book from each section of Dewey and offered them a reward for finishing. Dewy Match was also a hit- I handed a card to each student- they had to first find their partner (call number to subject), then get a self marker and mark where their book would be located. I asked them to stand while I went to check. Once they had it they were free to check-out. They actually seemed to enjoy this. All this being said, the practical application remains the problem...that connection to making it work. Even after an entire unit on Dewey and all these exercises I would still get a lot of requests to help find books (our signage is really good too).

    1. Awesome ideas! I was just looking over my curriculum map from last year and was thinking I needed some new ideas!

  2. You rock! I love the Prezi as well as the groups activities and worksheets. I try to make it fresh for the kids in the 3-5th grade.