Monday October 16th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week.

This one is a favourite. Dory Fantasmagory fans being bothered by an even bigger Dory fan, their teacher (me!) being all excited that Dory is getting lots of love! I did leave them in peace after my happy dance.

Our #classroombookaday titles supported our study of insects and arachnids. The book love went to fly vomit and squishy spiders.

Classroom Highlights 

My Monday posts now also contain some sharing from my week in the classroom.

Writing has been a beautiful thing in our classroom. My post on Sunday shared how we are Growing Writers. There are some beautiful samples of student writing shared there.

Part of our celebration of writing was having author Bree Galbraith visit to talk with us about writing and to share her book Milo and Georgie. Students didn’t want to stop talking with her!

I think my favourite question she was asked was this one:

“Did you get an opportunity to be a writer or did you just do it?”

And they loved the read aloud! It looked something like this. (Read aloud rendering by Amelia)

We also have some incredible art happening! Thanks to Maggie in the Art and Discovery studio, we had the opportunity to paint our portraits with water colour paints. I love all of the portraits so much! Each one has such personality shining through.

Lots of math happened this week. A favourite activity was playing this game to practice our doubles facts. Thanks to Carole Fullerton for so many fantastic math games!

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

Books I enjoyed:

That Neighbor Kid by Daniel Miyares

Wordless. Caldecott buzz. A huge story in these beautiful pages.

Lost and Found Cat: The True Story of Kunkush’s Incredible Journey written by Doug Kuntz and Amy Shrodes and illustrated by Sue Cornelison

Another fantastic title to share with students to give them a sense of the refugee crisis. In this true story, we meet a family who has fled Iraq with their beloved cat. An incredible story of the cat and family being reunited.

The Treasure Box by Margaret Wilde and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

A favourite author and illustrator pairing.  A precious book is protected as a family escapes from war and tries to hang on to important history. 

The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires

Perseverance and risk taking are a journey. Love the way they are depicted here.

What Makes a Monster?: Discovering the World’s Scariest Creatures written by Jess Keating and illustrated by David DeGrand

The second title in this series by Jess Keating. So. Much. Fun. Keating makes learning an adventure in the wow and wild!

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams

A new favourite nonfiction title exploring ecosystems and the importance of keeping oceans healthy. Students will develop an understanding of food chains and how living creatures are interconnected in specific environments.

Hero Dog!: A Branches Book (Hilde Cracks the Case #1) by Hilde Lysiak with Matthew Lysiak 

Can’t wait to share this new Branches series with my students. Written by a young writer with the support of her Dad. This author really does write a newspaper detailing crimes in her community,  A great mystery series!

Dory Dory Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon

I read these books and I laugh. Out loud. Often. I think about these books later and I laugh. Again out loud. Just so beautifully amusing. I LOVE the story of the suit Dory sports on the cover.

The Year of the Book (Anna Wang #1) by Andrea Cheng with illustrations by Abigail Halpin

A wonderful series bridging between transitional chapter books and longer middle grade reads. Grades 3 and up.

A Tale of Two Kitties (Dog Man #3) by Dav Pilkey

I couldn’t resist reading this one before it makes its way into my classroom library and is never seen again.

Swing it Sunny by Jennifer L Holm and Matthew Holm

Sequel to Sunny Side Up. I know many of my Grade 4 and 5 readers from last year will be clamouring to read this one. It is well done with incredible details from the 70s.

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 52/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 244/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 43 books behind schedule. Closing in on 40!

#MustReadin2017: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 32/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 34/50 books read

Up next? I am reading Refugee by Alan Gratz

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I worry a lot about teaching writing because I want learning to happen without erasing any joy. I want ideas to flow. I want enthusiasm to reign. I want doubts to stay far away. I want little writers to build their skills in a space that is safe. I want the idea of writing to become (or remain) a purely positive experience. Even if it’s hard. Even if it’s work. Even if we don’t have it all figured out.

I certainly don’t have it all figured out. Heck, I think I admit so frequently that I haven’t got a lot figured out that it might be time to really wonder about my credibility! BUT, I like to write about what I notice and sometimes it seems that there is enough great stuff happening right in front of me, that maybe I might have a thing or two to share. Lately, here’s what I have observed. We are growing writers. So far, it has been pretty organic. We aren’t bogged down in details and the “how to of it all” at this point.

We have jumped right in. We are immersing ourselves. We are beginning.

Here’s a peek into how:

There is daily time to read. Writers are readers. We need to give our reading writers time to fall into a story. There is so much learning happening when we let our students have time to read.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I read aloud often! Young writers need to be exposed to many, many read alouds. All different kinds of books shared with their classroom community. Picture books. Nonfiction picture books. Novels. Poetry. Writers definitely blossom in a room that celebrates stories.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

read books that are specifically about writing. Writers need to talk and learn about the process. Picture books invite them to learn from characters who are also figuring it out.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I provide time to reflect and to write about what writing means. My students  acknowledge that the process takes some work.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

Writing is honoured.

I often am reminded about how deeply children think about the writing process. I love how bravely my students write. It’s about ideas on a page. We don’t get obsessed about correct spelling or mistakes. We embrace our right to imagine and tell our stories.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I introduce students to authors – if in real life, all the better! Local author Bree Galbraith came and read her latest picture book to our classroom. Milo and Georgie got lots of love! And Bree fielded numerous questions in an engaging discussion about writing books, being a Mom, cat allergies, idea generating and favourite words.Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

After getting some input from the students about some future and in-process stories, Bree got some spontaneous hugs!

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I loved listening in on the stories being shared. Bree gave beautiful space to each child who shared with her.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

Our book is now signed!

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

I encourage students to write to everyone for all kinds of reasons

A Guest Teacher might be coming? How about some welcome letters?

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

Our engineer helped us out with a new Food Waste bin. We all wrote him thank you notes.

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

That visiting author? We miss her already and couldn’t wait to write her letters.

Sunday Reflections: Growing WritersSunday Reflections: Growing Writers

Sunday Reflections: Growing Writers

A writing centre and materials for writing are must haves. Ours is a shelf full of paper, notepapers, pens and coloured pencils. We also bring out felt tipped pens to write with so that we can love our mistakes instead of erasing them. We write during Writing Workshop but students also write when they have free time, during choices time and even during the lunch hour. Many are collaborative stories with multiple authors and illustrators.

I was just gifted a The Kind Book co-written by three girls. Each page has one word and an illustration. Check out the rainbow end pages! These kids know books and no detail is missed.

Sunday Reflections: Growing WritersWe are about to make books to share what we have learned about insects. Once we’ve done a little more research, there will be art, poetry, facts and book love. Everyone is excited.

We can do this!

We are writers!

Monday October 9th, 2017

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

Each week I share at least one reading photo of the week.

Loved reading aloud this title on Friday as I had a little walking skeleton dressed for the occasion!

Monday October 9th, 2017

Our #classroombookaday titles focussed on story telling and becoming writers. So glad I chose to share these titles so early in the year. Some highlights from our learning included:

  • The middle is where all of the good stuff happens.
  • Tell more!
  • Write the stories around you.
  • Illustrations also tell stories. Pictures have important details.
  • Everyone loves to share stories!

After reading Ralph Tells a Story we were inspired to make a list of story ideas in our writer’s notebooks. I can’t wait to read about overflowing bathtubs, funny families and big and little adventures!

Monday October 9th, 2017Classroom Highlights 

In this recent post Dear Blog Readers,  I explained how I will be sharing more of what is happening in our classroom each week. Some highlights:

On Wednesday and Thursday evening we hosted Goal Setting Conferences with parents and students. It was really lovely to meet families (including older and little siblings) and participate in meaningful conversations about learning, happiness and engagement. I loved this drawing left behind by one little brother. It reminded me to listen with big ears!

Monday October 9th, 2017

Kindergarten students have so much to share. I love to pop in to the K classrooms on my prep to see what is happening. One little author/illustrator read me her animal book. 🙂

Monday October 9th, 2017

One of my students wants to be a poet. She shared her notebook with me this week. During Choices time one afternoon, she was working on her writing. She turned to a new page and exclaimed, “I love when a blank page turns into a story.” Her supportive Mom had taken her to the public library this week and helped her to sign out some poetry titles!

Monday October 9th, 2017

We have been writing to the people in our school community. I love this letter to our school engineer:

“Parm Thank you for everything. Our light is broken Parm. Can you fix it please and pretty?”

Here are our wipe off math mats patiently waiting for us to return from music and recess so we can continue practicing decomposing numbers to add.

Monday October 9th, 2017Little mathematicians at work! Overheard: “Let’s try that one again. I think we’ve almost got it.” Math is social! When we work together our learning multiplies.Monday October 9th, 2017Students are now taking the lead solving math riddles. This student is crossing out numbers on the 100s chart that have been eliminated by specific clues. Her classmates are so attentive!

Monday October 9th, 2017

After choral counting, we notice so many patterns! My job? To record all of the thinking that is shared.

Monday October 9th, 2017

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.

Books I enjoyed:

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back up Again by Dan Santat

Kind of impossible to talk about this book without giving anything away. I will just say this. I read a LOT of picture books. I often find books that touch an emotional nerve or inspire a sense of awe or make me laugh out loud. I am amazed at the calibre of titles that continue to be published. But I don’t often find myself completely surprised. This book surprised me. The ending caught me off guard and I loved it!

La La La: A Story of Hope written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by Jaime Kim

Well, wow. This book – with only these three little repeated utterances: La, La, La and some more than expected and then some illustrations – pulls off an experience that is pretty incredible. I read a bit of criticism in the reviews about this being a challenging title to share as a read aloud. I think in a room with an adult who knows his/her readers and where there is space for wondering and talk, this book would be amazing. I need to get my own copy and prove it very soon.

La La La- A Story of Hope 2

The Wish Tree written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Chris Turnham

In search of a wish tree . . . There is much here about unwavering belief, hope and kindness. A magical experience.

Hooray for Books! by Brian Won

I am not quite sure what could be better than a book about book love. Such a celebration!

Hooray for Books!

Imagine by John Lennon with illustrations by Jean Jullien

A gorgeous picture book of the famous song by John Lennon. I will be sharing this as November 11th approaches. An important book to inspire conversations about peace.

Animal Camouflage: Search and Find by Sarah Dennis and Sam Hutchinson

Can’t wait to put this title out for some of our Soft Start mornings. I know students will pour over it as they learn about continents and various animals. Just beautiful.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

I was so excited to finally have the chance to read this book and I couldn’t put it down. It was full of surprises and the ending just about knocked me over. I now feel like my students who read Mighty Jack last year and then whined all year about the second in the series not yet being published. Consider this my first whine: WHEN is Book 3 coming?

Zinnia and the Bees by Danielle Davis

Wonderfully quirky, gentle and true. The unbelievable becomes believable in this middle grade novel about a girl who literally has a bee hive in her hair. Not a bee hive hair style. A hive of bees who take up residence. Really. She also has a missing brother. A there, but not really, mother. A boy named Birch waiting to be her friend. And . . . those bees. Loved this book!

Reading Progress updates:

2017 Chapter Book Challenge: 52/75 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 231/365 books read

Progress on challenge: 49 books behind schedule.  Under 50 this week!

#MustReadin2017: 24/30 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 29/50 titles

Diverse Books in 2016: 33/50 books read

Up next? I have a lot of transitional chapter books on the go as I get ready to book talk more titles for my classroom!

Sunday Reflections: Dear Blog Readers

Dear Blog Readers:

In the next while you might notice a few changes in some of my posts. While this is still a place I will continue to share a LOT of book love (including reviews, author/illustrator interviews, best of lists, weekly sharing of what I’m reading), you will now be getting a larger peek into my classroom.

Sunday Reflections: Dear Blog Readers

What’s ahead? More student book reviews, more classroom photos interspersed into my #IMWAYR posts, sharing of student writing especially in response to what we are reading and various other classroom celebrations of learning. This fall I considered beginning a second blog for classroom related things which felt a little bit overwhelming in terms of time. I then realized that much of our learning is connected to stories and literature and thus, this blog is the ideal location to share both our adventures in learning and our love of reading. I remembered this again reading my own words in this post: Honest truths, metaphorical whales and the “in between” place

” . . . through books we find most of the answers and all of the questions and that these beloved book makers, when they share, help to illuminate both. ”

“The honest truth? I am a reading teacher. And I have important work to do.”

For those of you new to this blog, I am sharing some posts below (follow the links) that give a flavour of my teaching philosophy, my thoughts about reading and what I celebrate in the realm of teaching and learning.

Our words, after all, tell our stories.

Here is mine.

Classroom communities are pretty incredible places. We spend a LOT of time together.

6 hours x 5 days x 10 months

“But when we experience classrooms – as in, occupy classrooms for those 6 hours x 5 days x 10 months, it is mostly about relationships. Because none of that other stuff happens without them. At least not as deeply, meaningfully and wonderfully as it could. And should.”

I believe in the importance of “kid watching” and talk more about it here: The power of observation

 “I need time to watch and interact and notice. I need to trust that I know what I am looking for and that I can make decisions to best guide the learning based on what I see.”

Some of the best observations happen, when there is time for play.

Capturing Play

“There is more and more research to support the benefits of play on the social emotional well being and cognitive development of our learners. In our quest for the most meaningful learning opportunities for our students, we need to make room for play.”

Every child matters.  Every child belongs. Some children especially need us to be welcoming and patient. I feel blessed to have learned from some pretty incredible children over the years.

The Part that is True

“When I look at Harry learning and laughing and taking more risks every day, I know that my job is not to bask in the happiness of his growth and success. My job is to pave the way for more of the same in his future.”

The Kid on the Piano

“I stand there and watch him for a minute.

Shining in the sunshine coming through the windows.

I see the bright energy return under those stormy eyebrows.”

Be Gentle

“Sometimes with all of the busy and all of the rushing and all of the stuff we have to do in schools, we can forget to be gentle. Sometimes gentle is the most important choice we make.”

The more I do this work, the more I realize that there is so much I don’t know. But every so often, I celebrate what I have learned.

20 years, 20 things

“Value community. We are one of many people teaching the children in our classrooms. Students come from varied, interesting and diverse backgrounds. Honour their parents. The extended families. The community that surrounds the school. Make connections to the key players – community centre staff, public library staff, recreation program staff, community health nurses, etc. We are all in this together.”

All my Secrets

“Know that you are present everyday for the amazing of childhood. Don’t try to chase it away or shake it out. Childhood is sad with snotty sobs. Silly with contagious laughter. Angry with stomps and hiding. Wild with wonder and delight. Full with the magic of the world.”

I also need community. Last March, I wrote about realizing I was beginning to find it in my new school.

Finding Community

” Numerous children are nameless to me but we smile at each other each time we pass in the halls. The names will come. The connections will grow. We will make some shared stories.”

Books are my thing. I love the land of stories, words and worlds I find in them.

I believe passionately in classroom libraries and blog about this frequently.

Books, books, books – everywhere you look

“Classroom libraries are like a living, breathing, ever-changing creature. They reflect the interests, the questions and the passions of the readers in the room.”

When I packed up and moved schools after 21 years, books grounded me: These Books

“In those times when I look up and remember that it’s all new and not yet home, these books will help me find my balance. Let me place two solid feet in the middle of it all.”

In the month of March, I write every day. Be warned now.

This Writing Thing

“Writing steals time. While you try to capture the world, some of it passes you by. You aren’t where you started. You don’t remember arriving here.”

Happy reading! Happy writing! Happy Sunday!

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 3: Additions

I continue working in my classroom library preparing it for the Grade 3 class I will have this fall. Books that have homes have returned to them. Books that had homes may have lost them as I have reorganized. Books yet to have homes are stacked ready to get labels and stickers and then will find a place. Books have been weeded and are in process of finding new spaces or being temporarily stored. What now? I am thinking about what my current library might need.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Additions

Note: This is the third post in a series. Missed the previous ones?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 2: Weed

Additions are not simply about a shopping list. Or even a wish list. Additions begin from the noticing. What’s missing? What series do I need to expand? What do I need to be thinking about to best meet the needs of the readers in my classroom? The readers I haven’t even met yet.

I sit in various sections of my classroom and look at the shelves. I am looking with my eyes and I am looking with the potential eyes of future students.

I don’t have #3 of Anna, Banana. When is the next Piper Green title by Ellen Potter going to be released? Do I think this new group will enjoy the Violet Mackerel series?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: AdditionsThe Heidi Hecklebeck series has a number of new titles. Should I be expanding the collection? Of course, I need the next Princess and Black titles! What am I missing?Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: AdditionsDo I know when the next Bad Guys title is out? Is the 65th Story Tree House title in soft cover yet? Arnie and the Donut? Will there be another title?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: AdditionsThese kind of noticings are simple. What series has recently been adored and should I expand it? Am I missing specific numbers in a series so that the gaps will frustrate readers wanting the next book?

The next questions are a little more complicated. I am thinking about questions like the following as I put myself in potential reader shoes:

  • If I am a kid who loves fantasy, are there books for me here? What if I am devouring thick chapter books? What if I am just beginning to read novels? What if I want to stick with picture books?
  • If I like a particular kind of picture book, are there chapter books that I might also like? Can I find them easily?
  • Can I find a bunch of funny books to read?
  • If I am a series reader, are there a range of series at a range of levels about a variety of things for me to get lost in?
  • If I find an author I love, are there more books that he/she wrote in the library?
  • What if I want to read about things I might be experiencing? Like friendship struggles? Or having a new sibling? Or my parents breaking up? Feeling lonely? Different? Discriminated against? Can I find books that will help me understand more about myself? Are there books that can act as mirrors for me?
  • Do I need to read about things that have not yet touched my life? Learn more about the world? Learn more about the lives of my peers? My parents? My neighbours? Are there books here that will be windows into other worlds and lives?

Putting my teacher hat back on, I need to think about questions like:

  • Are my organization systems student friendly?
  • Can children navigate the shelves independently (after some initial instruction and practice)?
  • Can students help keep the library organized so that we can all use it with ease?
  • Is there room for a range of readers in each genre?
  • Are there obvious gaps in specific genres?
  • Am I missing books that might have huge kid appeal but might not attract me? Can I make room for those books in our library?
  • Is there a way for children to tell me, “Can we get books about . . . ?”
  • Does my read aloud collection contain books that will allow us to laugh together? Learn together? Cry together? To be inspired? To be incensed? To shake up our thinking? To allow us to view things from new perspectives?
  • Are there books in the library that tell the history of our country? Of neighbouring countries? About the world? What really happened? There needs to be titles about residential schools. About immigration. About racist policies that have changed or persist. Books that allow us to talk about discrimination. Rights. Fear.
  • Do I have a wide range of picture books? Various genres? Lots of diversity? Short reads? Wordless titles? Longer reads? Great books to share together?
  • Does my nonfiction collection contain books about a wide range of topics? Does the organization system make sense? Are there a variety of formats? Expository?Narrative? Fact books? What are the topic gaps?
  • Graphic novels? How will we organize these books? Are popular series missing any titles? What is missing at the Grade 3 level? The graphic/comics shelf below is in process of being organized.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Additions

All books on the shelf should be invitations to read. The shelves need to call: “Hey you reader, you belong here! Have I got something for you!”

This is just the beginning. The start of some lists, of noting gaps, of wondering what else I might need. Further sourcing and list making will come later.

I don’t have endless book buying dollars so lists will remain wishes and over time, hopefully I will fill the gaps as I add to the collection. There needs to be room for the interests, passions and needs of this new class. I am repeating this again – this classroom library is fluid not fixed and will reflect the readers in the room. So there is a big unknown still to come as I get to know my new students. The most important additions I make to the library will happen when I begin to know these children.

But I need to know directions. What might be next? This allows me to find treasures here and there when I visit bookstores or sift through a box of books that a neighbour is giving away. I keep lists and notes about series in this little notebook and throw it in my bag when I remember.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Additions

My lists have begun.

Up next? How does everything stay organized as it moves into the library? I explain bins, labels, shelves and systems in this next post: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 4: The Details

Stay tuned!

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed

My classroom library is “in process” right now. It is mid-transformation – from a Grade 4 and 5 classroom library to a Grade 3 classroom library. This is a definite process. The shelves go from full to empty, to temporary stacks and piles to full again before I pull it all apart.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed There's a Book for ThatNote: This is the second post in a series. Missed the first one? Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

I have been going through novels genre by genre and removing books that might not fit this group of readers. Graphic novels teeter in various piles with imagined labels: perfect for primary, too mature, maybe/not sure/appropriatish.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know what this group of readers will need. I can only make an educated guess. I could be mostly right. I could be very wrong. My library is always fluid not fixed. Books line the shelves or get removed from the shelves according to the needs and interests of my readers. I learned this lesson in a big way two years ago. I was going from teaching a Grade 3 and 4 class to a Grade 2 and 3 class. I switched out some books and let many remain, thinking that the books in the collection would meet the needs of the readers. I was so off! So very, very off. Within about three weeks, I binned up a chunk of the library. I wrote about it in this post. My developing readers weren’t ready for many of the titles I thought they might be ready for and it was taking away from their ability to find books they could read and wanted to read. Some of my thinking at the time:

This wasn’t about taking books away. It was about removing titles that are currently not relevant and are actually, distracting. I left about 7/8 of the books still out. There are a lot of books. But now, we can focus on surrounding ourselves with books that we can read or might grow into in the near future. Some people thought this made me sad. Only very briefly. Until I thought about it: I love books because I love that they are read by readers. I adore the readers (and the readers to be) and these readers are my priority. These books will be back. When we’re ready.

I hadn’t messed up in terms of choosing relevant, age appropriate titles for Grade 2s and 3s. I messed up because I put together a library for imagined readers and I hadn’t yet met the readers I would be working with that year. I didn’t know the needs and interests of this particular group of children. And they were the most important readers I would know that year because they were my students. Our classroom library needed to be all about them.

And so, this work I am doing now is tentative. I am making best guesses. I am placing some books away in easy to pull back out bins. I have a stack of bins ready to be filled up if need be once the readers enter the room. This is the weeding for now stage. I hardly feel like I am finishing anything.

I am sifting through books. Pulling out. Putting aside.

Out means books will go to a new space, a new home, or retire. I give these books to other classrooms, to students, to other teachers I might know. Some titles are not up to being passed on. They have been loved enough and are worn out and need to be discarded. I have very few books that I am pulling out of my collection this summer. When I moved schools a year ago, I did this very thoroughly. I was not about to pack any book I wasn’t fully committed to keeping in the collection.

Putting aside – this is all about temporary storage. I am looking at books that might not be right for these readers coming in September. These titles are placed in baskets and bins for now. Maybe I will go reaching for them for one particular reader. Maybe, I will pull titles to lend to my students from last year. These books are kept close but out of the way.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed There's a Book for ThatSome sections of my library now seem like they might be right. I think . . .

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed There's a Book for That

In answering the question: Will I keep it in the collection? I am thinking about

  • Are the themes too mature for my learners?
  • Are the story lines possibly too complex?
  • Is the book better suited to a younger classroom?
  • Is the title or series outdated?
  • Do I think this is a book or series students still want to read? I have a few stacks of series I am not so sure about. (like this stack here)

  • Are the books a format I want to introduce before I make it available? (i.e. novels in verse)
  • Are the characters vastly different from the age of my students? I struggle with this one – are my seven and eight year olds going to be wanting to read about middle school themes like crushes and dating? This is tricky.
  • Does a book or series just not feel like a fit for reasons I can’t quite explain?

I am working at this stage here and there over days as it involves a lot of thinking and decision making. Sometimes, it is much easier to go shopping at Ikea 🙂

As I look through my books, I am also thinking about what my library might be missing. This is what’s next: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library Step 3: Additions

Stay tuned!

 

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

So this section of my classroom library looks ready to go.

Don’t you think?

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: RelocateUnfortunately, it isn’t. This mostly fiction area is all set up for Grades 4 and 5 and in September, I have a class full of Grade 3 readers walking in the door.

Add that to the regular summer tasks that happen in the classroom library and I have some work ahead!

This is Part 1 of a blog series about maintaining a classroom library and all of the summer tasks that might be involved. I am using my classroom library as an example but I hope that these reminders will be helpful and/or applicable to your own classroom library.

It all starts with returning items to where they belong and deciding if that is where they are going to stay.

These empty shelves are where all of our picture books that I read aloud rested. All of these (fiction and nonfiction) needed to be returned to their spots on my read aloud shelf. Other books from around the room from book boxes and display shelves also need to find a place.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: RelocateLet the sorting begin!

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

Returning to a place on the read aloud shelf. Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

As I returned books, I realized I was out of space (there may have been some new books acquired over the year . . . ) and so some of my read aloud titles were put in yet more piles to be relabelled and moved into the classroom collection.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

Every book has a home, even if it is getting a new home, each one has a home. This means, organization, space and thinking about how books are used in the classroom.

I differentiate between a read aloud collection and a classroom collection of books (more on this below)

Here are some things to think about:

  • Do you want a place for a read aloud collection where the books are rotated into the classroom for students to access?
  • Do you need a place for mentor texts for writing inspiration?
  • Do you want to have some books organized by theme? For both fiction and nonfiction?
  • What about the general collection of books? How is this organized? Think about picture books (fiction and nonfiction) graphic titles and chapter books.
  • What kind of shelf space do you have? Do you need? Can you source?
  • Do you have space for a read aloud/theme books collection? Can you easily access it?
  • Do you want to/need to rotate books in and out of your classroom collection?

This is my system and works for my collection of books. In order to make something work for your collection of books, you will need to sort books into sections of your room so that all books have a place and you have easy access.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

In my read aloud collection I have:

  1. Some shelves filled with bins of books organized by theme. Some of these themes include:
  • Death and Grief
  • Peace and War
  • Mindfulness
  • Emotions
  • Hope
  • Kindness/Generosity
  • Place
  • History
  • Discrimination
  • Refugee experience
  • Moving
  • Relationship
  • Friendship
  • Bully/Bullied/Bystander
  • Literacy (reading)
  • Literacy (writing)
  • Poetry
  1. A tall read aloud shelf divided into fiction books (organized alphabetically by author) and nonfiction books (organized by topic) My nonfiction topics are here along with book lists which I update a few times a year.
  2. Some bins of teaching books which hold Reading Power themed titles and mentor texts for writing (again organized by themes like word choice).

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: Relocate

In my picture book collection (in bins or on shelves around the room), books are also organized into themes (and all have coordinating stickers on the back that match the bin) At this point, my bin/shelf  titles include:

  • Rhyme and Repetition
  • Fairy Tale/Myth/Legends
  • Realistic Fiction
  • Poetry
  • Humour
  • Animal Stories
  • Buddy Reading Bin
  • Favourite Authors (which keeps expanding)
  • Picture Book Fiction (for when they don’t fit in another bin!)

I am in the process of changing my nonfiction bins again . . . So more on these later.

I also have a shelf for graphics and comics. Chapter books are organized by genre and series.

At this stage of organizing (the mostly putting all of the books back stage) I am thinking about these things:

  • Does this book belong in the general access or read aloud collection?  Will it get lost in a bin and never looked at? Is this a book that my current students are likely to discover on their own? Is this a book that I want to read for #classroombookaday?
  • Is this a book that needs to be weeded out? Why? Is it beyond the normal wear and tear? Is it damaged? Is it never looked at?
  • What books have I forgotten about? Should I keep a list of a future theme for #classroombookaday? Do I see a book that will inspire a future art project? A science lesson? Is this a must read title?
  • What seems to be missing from the collection? Do the picture books in the classroom represent our learners? Are they windows into other experiences? Do chapter books and transitional titles include enough diverse titles? What’s missing?

This is the easy stage in many ways. Piling. Relocating. Thinking. Musing. List making. I am now moving on to the weeding and the temporary storage stage as titles that are more suited for my Grade 4s and 5s need to be somewhere else when my Grade 3s arrive. A temporary somewhere else as some may make their way back into the collection for specific readers I haven’t yet met.

Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 1: RelocateStay tuned for Part 2: Summer Maintenance in the Classroom Library. Step 2: Weed

Please share any questions or ideas in the comments!