Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Today I am celebrating another successful #MockCaldecott experience with my class! There is much joy in watching children become so excited about books!

This year we had 12 contenders. In the 2 weeks leading up to the holiday break, we read a book each day, sometimes two. We appreciated the story for the story’s sake. These are fantastic stories! But we also paid attention to everything about the illustrations. We talked book jackets, surprises under the covers, end pages, spotlight pages, use of colour, mood, details, style, etc. We talked about preferences. We wondered why illustrators chose the colours that they did. We talked about wow pages that made us gasp. Lots of reading. Lots of talking. Lots of looking closely.

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Voting was a careful process. We picture walked each book again and answered 3 questions on a 5 point scale.

This book is a book kids will really like. 1  2  3  4  5

The illustrations in this book are excellent. 1  2  3  4  5

The illustrations are a great fit for the story.  1  2  3  4  5

After the holidays, we revisited our ratings over a morning of looking carefully through the books again. Some ratings were adjusted. Other students held fast to their initial decisions. At this point students were asked to choose their 2 favourites. Not easy!

These boys revisited the illustrations in Emmanuel’s Dream

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Looking at tiny details in The Whisper

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Rereading Wolfie the Bunny together

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Recreating a favourite illustration from The Skunk

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Choosing favourites and adding detailed comments.

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

I tabulated all of the scores and determined final winners. Top pick choices from each student were also a part of the final tabulations.

Our winners were:

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Our #MockCaldecott medal went to

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach 

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Honor titles:

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson

Last Stop on Market StreetCelebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Wolfie the Bunnie written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora

Wolfie the Bunny 2015 Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Lenny and Lucy written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Lenny & Lucy Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

We were pretty excited to hear the winners announced!

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Although some students were pretty sure other titles should have been honoured.

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

Special Delivery was one of the first titles we read and it remained a favourite all the way through for this student!

Celebration: #MockCaldecott Results 2016

It is wonderful when the authors and illustrators respond!

Some comments from my students:

About The Bear Ate Your Sandwich:

“Kids like finding the bear in all of the different spots on some of the pages.”

“There is lots to watch about ears.”

About Lenny & Lucy

“I liked that some pages were not busy and others were. Sometimes it was just small colours. The forest was grey and each page grows more colours.”

“I loved when a little boy made a guard. He wasn’t good enough so he made two.”

 

About Last Stop on Market Street:

“The pictures show the taking care of people who have no homes and I realize that’s caring. I like the page with the sun and the birds. It is so big and beautiful.”

“Kids will love these pictures because you know . . . the tattoo man!”

About Special Delivery:

“The artist paints outside the lines, all squiggly. I liked that.”

About The Night World:

“It has stars on the end pages.”

“The stars look snowy.”

“I like all of that dark!”

Growing readers. Honouring books. Sharing in our community. This is certainly something to celebrate!

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015)

I have been writing and planning numerous posts on the blog all about best and favourites of the year. Looking back through blog posts is such an interesting process – whether it is searching for books or searching for moments. I find the summarizing strangely comforting. So, I am going to do it again. This time? I am capturing a year of literacy thinking in the posts that highlight my passion: all things literacy connected to all things children. 🙂

Today, I celebrate what I feel are the ten “best of the year” posts on this blog related to reading, readers and #booklove.

In no particular order . . .

# 1 All author visits are all kinds of amazing. This one, from Calef Brown, was particularly out of this world. We were as excited to share the land we had created in his honour as Calef was eager to share his new book of poems with us. Read more here: Celebration: Calef Brown Land

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#2 Camp Read – a day when everything is about reading and books. The absolute best! I highlighted this amazing day at my school here: Celebration: Camp Read Meeting author Dan Bar-el was an absolute highlight of the day!

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#3 My first #MockCaldecott was in January of 2015. What a beautiful, literacy rich experience! I shared it here: Celebration: Mock Caldecott Results and Feedback

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#4 I believe so strongly in the importance of sharing nonfiction titles in our classrooms. Part of that is exposing students to titles they want to read on their own and expanding their knowledge of the huge variety of nonfiction titles out there. I blogged about this here: Nonfiction conversations: Book sharing circles – What nonfiction titles are we drawn to and why?

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#5 And while we are still talking nonfiction books? A nonfiction tour of my classroom: A room full of nonfiction

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

Talking about classroom libraries has been a bit of an obsession this year. I have it right for about twenty-two seconds before I change things again. All through the process, I share.

#6 My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features I believe in a room full of books and time to read them. I also celebrate lots of book displays, incredible illustrations, an organization system that makes sense and a place for student voice. Reader statements from my students are an important part of our learning.

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#7  I began this post, explaining that my classroom is a library: How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider Through various images and some brief thoughts, I tried to capture some essential parts of building, organizing, maintaining and using a classroom library. Labels are key!

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#8 In this post Talking Classroom Libraries, I shared a list of questions we might begin with when thinking about how our classroom libraries work for our students.

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#9 What are the goals for my readers? I started with some questions. Sunday Reflections: Goals for my Readers

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

#10 Literary Nest Building 101: in this post, I expressed my goals for growing passionate readers during this 2015/2016 year

Celebration: Literacy to fill the year (2015) There's a Book for That

Today, I celebrate all of my literacy learning and thinking in 2015. Sharing it here means I learn from my own reflections and the readers who join in the conversations.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

A year of thinking (2015)

Yesterday, I published a list of favourite book lists I have posted on this blog in 2015. I said it in the post and I will say it again here: I make a lot of lists.

But here and there, I do some thinking.

Sometimes it is reflective. Some of it is not quite clear. Writing it down means I figure some of it out. Some of it has “rantish” leanings. But all of it captures my journey as a teacher, a reader, a human.

Today, I honour the posts that best capture my year . . . in thoughts. Putting this together was an interesting process. A healthy, emotional process.

In January, I gave voice to the not so wonderful Monday: Monday leads to Friday Sometimes it is all about hanging in!

From this post:

On some Mondays, I question whether I have it together at all. A lot seems to not be yet “in synch” and the previous week feels very long ago. Monday often feels like a warm up, remind ourselves, get it together day. I don’t often say TGIF. But I often think TGMIO. TGMIO = Thank Goodness Monday is Over. Monday is the day when we don’t have the cushion of success immediately behind us. Anxiety is higher. Stamina is lower. Energy is inconsistent. When Monday is under our belt, it’s like the clouds part. The sun creeps in or sometimes it lights up the week bright and strong on Tuesday and holds fast.

A year of thinking (2015)

In March I fully celebrated all things book nerdy: Nerding Out I attended not one, but two literacy conferences and the first EVER nErDCamp Bellingham. 

From this post:

And yes, I love all of this – the authors, the illustrators and the literacy love. But why do I love it so much? Because I can share it with my students.

Their book love is my book love.

Our passion for literacy is always, I hope, transformative.

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In April, there were some rocky weeks. But I fuelled up on what was always around me: Fuel

From this post:

Every so often though, I need to gather fuel. Fuel to recharge when there are lots of hard moments. This week, I celebrate that thanks to some sunshine, some impressive and supportive colleagues and the laughter and smiles of the children I work with, I found the energy to go looking for that fuel. And of course, I found it. Right there. Where it always is. All around me. Waiting to be noticed. Ready to shine the light.

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In April, I also began the process of letting go: Three Years Only a few months left of sharing a classroom everyday with a group of children (many for a full 3 years).

From this post:

It has been a very special gift to teach so many children for so long. I may never have this opportunity again and I know it. All children teach me so much. These children have been particularly influential. This is my 20th year at this school and I don’t think I have ever been so full of change and possibility. Wanting the room to be full of learning and security for these children has pushed me to risk take and shift and reassess constantly. My learning has been perhaps the most rich.

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When school was really over in June, we were all ready: Goodbyes

From this post:

Yes, we had some tears. Yes, there were lots of hugs. But most of all there was security. When you build something great together, it still stands when you step away. Somehow, quietly, we all knew this.

And so . . . our goodbyes were full of gratitude, of smiles, of honouring what we have built. And of knowing that it is in each of us.

I am so lucky to be a teacher. So lucky to work with such wonderful children. Today, I celebrate that.

Big breath.

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In July, I shared Sunday Morning Perspective all about knowing what is really important in the classroom: community.

From this post:

Our classroom is its own community. What we build is ours. The learning environment is a safe haven and that is powerful and necessary for many children.

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In August, I was thinking full steam ahead – all about my new to me readers and reminding myself to go slow: Literacy Nest Building 101

From this post:

I need to dust off my patient self and approach this new group with more experience, deeper commitment and careful and best intentions. I want to do it right. Wrap them in book love and let them settle. Not squeeze too tight. Let the books do their thing. Build a literary nest in which to nurture these new readers. When we fly, we will soar. But first there is going to be a little bit of bumbling about. Some falls. Some reading journeys that need more lift off. The right wind. Smoother landings. We will get there. One book at a time. Shared together. Shared between us.

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I was also getting all bothered by the prospect of evaluation overkill and wrote this in my head and in scratchy scrawls (stopping at bus stop benches as I shopped for vegetables, to write down my thoughts in a notebook): The Power of Observation My “rant” about all that we can know by watching.

From this post:

The wonderful thing about observation? I can gather information all day, every day as we continue to engage in our daily learning. The power of observation. Over time. In many different activities. With children we know and have relationships with. It gives us so much more than any paper and pencil task will ever do.

We don’t need to fill our first weeks with students with assessments. We need to let the learning begin. Everything we need to know is happening right in front of us if we just pay attention.

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September brought a new class. New needs. Some of them surprising. Deeper literacy needs than I was initially prepared for . . . But I found a way to celebrate the challenge: Celebration: From Here

From this post:

I feel worried. I feel little moments of desperate. This isn’t grade 1 where my task is to grow readers from non readers. This is grade 2 and 3 where I must now grow readers and play all kinds of catch up. I feel responsible. But most importantly, I feel urgent. And this is what I celebrate – the urgency of my task. The advocacy that needs to happen. My determination. It is fierce. My fear. It is motivating. My breath. It keeps me grounded. Somehow, someway, we are going to change things for these children.

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A Sunday Reflection in November: Honest Truths, Metaphorical Whales and the “in between” place Meeting Marla Frazee “steadied my boat” on a rainy November morning and helped me back to a steady shore.

From this post:

I am a teacher. A teacher who believes firmly in the gift of literacy.  I am a conduit between authors and illustrators who have magic to give and the children who need to receive it. And when I can, I reflect it back. I love nothing more than to share how very beloved stories are in a community of little readers. I am blessed to sit “in between“- in the middle of the book makers and the readers and listeners who they make these books for.

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In December, after one sleep into the holiday break I wrote (Brief) Ramblings and the Happiness Train. Sometimes, we need to embrace our inner silly and capture the energy of childhood.

From this post:

There is something freeing about leaping about and laughing with a bunch of five to eight year olds along for the ride. Freeing and needed.

Finally, one of my little guys leaped in front of us. “This is the terminus! Last stop!” he shouted. And, we all agreed. The children ran off, lighter, ready for the last ten minutes of playtime. I walked inside, lighter, but loaded down with connection, calm and the feeling of “just right.”

 A year of Thinking (2015)

A year of thoughts. What a year.  So happy to be a teacher, a learner and a thinker who still has much to figure out.

Best to everyone who reads this blog – I also learn so much from each of you!

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Moments

This week I celebrate amazing #MockCaldecott moments. They are everywhere as we dive into all of the beautiful and all of the amazing in the world of picture books!

First, of course, we had to fill a book shelf with some past honor and medal winners.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Moments

Some of these titles are shared over and over between students and the art of course is endless inspiration.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott moments

Journey by has been a huge source of wonder and artistic exploration.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Moments

Celebration: Mock Caldecott Moments

We have learned that it is a good thing to colour outside the lines. Thanks to Matthew Cordell this little artist realized colours blurring across lines was kind of great. Kind of Matthew Cordell (in Special Delivery great) great!

Our #classroombookaday titles this week were all #MockCaldecott choices ( I shared our #MockCaldecott choices and process here)

Celebration: Mock Caldecott momentsSo hard to choose a favourite!

Celebration: Mock Caldecott moments

Many students wrote and drew about their selections.

Celebration: Mock Caldecott moments

“I like when Lenny and Lucy kept the scary stuff away.”

Celebration: Mock Caldecott moments

“Because of that one picture when the boy closed his eyes and dreamed !!”

Celebration: Mock Caldecott moments

Celebration: Mock Caldecott moments

We are reading community and sharing these titles this week has deepened our book love. Certainly reason to celebrate!

Next week we will be sharing 7 more #MockCaldecott titles!

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.

celebrate-link-up

Celebration: From Here

If you read this blog, you know I am a reader who shares. I am a teacher who believes in the transformative power of stories. I spend thousands of dollars and endless time filling, organizing and thinking about my classroom library. Recently, I have shared details about it here and here and here.

This year, I moved from a grade 3/4 class (mostly 4s) to a grade 2/3 class (mostly 2s). This summer, I spent time switching out books that would likely not be at the reading or interest level of my new students. I thought a lot about how to ensure I “switched on” the reading love with this new group. I even wrote a post about it: Literary Nest Building 101. Two weeks in, some of my instincts were bang on. We are reading a lot of humour filled silly stories. Read aloud time is joyous! It often ends with “Read it again!” We read multiple times a day. Every afternoon we begin with a #classroombookaday and on Friday we vote for our favourite. The children love this. One of them has even figured out that I will share the news with the author if I can.

“Ms. Gelson you have to tweet Cece Bell! I Yam a Donkey is the winner of the vote this week! Tweet her so she knows.”

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

We have connected books with celebration. We read the amazing story The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds and made a dot of dots. This dot is now hanging in our room and we broke out a fancy felt pen to have each of us sign our names around the outside.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

Our first chapter book read aloud was the perfect pick for many children who have never listened to a chapter book read aloud. It is illustrated, it is full of kid humour and fun and it works a little bit like magic. As soon as I start reading it, these little bundles of energy and distractibility start to calm as they inch closer and closer to me to listen at the carpet. I think some of them even hold their breath as they listen. I feel little hands on my arm, on my shoe, on my leg as if touching me can bring them further into the book. When Dory explained about ketchup monster noises, there was a whisper, “So that’s what that noise is.” When Dory shot Mrs. Gobble Gracker in the butt with a sleeping dart, there was pure joy that their teacher said “in the butt” out loud! They laughed and giggled but they also shared knowing smiles that said, “How cool are we?” I hear them heading home at the end of the day debating whether Mary, the Monster is really a monster, really even real or some strange talking dog. 🙂 I will be forever in your debt Abby Hanlon for Dory Fantasmagory!

Dory Fantasmagory Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

We started our first nonfiction read aloud: Guess What is Growing Inside this Egg by Mia Posada and the children love listening for “specific” words to add to our vocabulary list. Words like swamp, water-proof and instinct. Many of them were delighted when I explained to them that they could take their new knowledge home to share with their families. I am sure a lot of Moms and Dads and Grandmas heard about how alligators, despite all of their teeth actually don’t chew their food but swallow it whole. “I guess their teeth are just there to look scary,” suggested one child.

guess what is growing inside this egg Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

These children love books. They love stories. They love to be read to. They love to sit with a book that we have read together and in twos or threes retell or reread the story. I think I have heard Chris Haughton‘s Shh! We have a Plan about thirty times. I might have it memorized! Such an engaging fun book to read and feel successful.

“Ready one . . . ready two . . . Ready three . . . GO! “

Shh! We have a plan Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

And . . . (I am not going to write but) many children (more than half) in my new classroom are not reading even close to grade level “expectations.” This, I was not fully prepared for. Not to this extent, not so many children. Expectations, levels, proficiency are all descriptors that can officially name what is happening for these students. I am going to name it this way: they aren’t independent. (“Can you read this to me?” “I wish I could read this book.”) They desperately want to be. (“I really need to learn to read more words.”) They don’t identify as readers. (“I can’t read.” “I don’t know how.”) They can’t self select titles that correspond to their levels. (filling book boxes with chapter books because this is what they want to read when they can’t read 90% of the text on the page.) They need to be reading and they aren’t and this is not okay.

I feel a lot of things as I have discovered this. I feel angry and I am not going to elaborate on what I know has gone wrong. I feel worried. I feel little moments of desperate. This isn’t grade 1 where my task is to grow readers from non readers. This is grade 2 and 3 where I must now grow readers and play all kinds of catch up. I feel responsible. But most importantly, I feel urgent. And this is what I celebrate – the urgency of my task. The advocacy that needs to happen. My determination. It is fierce. My fear. It is motivating. My breath. It keeps me grounded. Somehow, someway, we are going to change things for these children.

I began sharing wordless titles in “tell aloud” experiences to make the point that we can read with or without words. That the pictures tell a story. That our own experiences and inferences fill in the missing pieces. That we have a sense of stories that is in us and we bring it to the books we read.

hank finds an egg Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

Friday afternoon, I packed up books from the classroom library into three rubbermaid bins. 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.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I filled display shelves with titles we have read and loved together. We need to look around and see our reading experiences in our environment.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I went to the library and brought up bins of levelled readers and have them available not to start labelling a child with a number but to have titles to place into book boxes that match reading ability and a “ladder” to climb. I filled some other display shelves full of books that many of us can read with success. Displaying titles honours them. It screams, “Hey you! Read me!” It says these books are for us.

Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That Celebration: From Here There is a Book for That

I celebrate that I must get my students reading. I acknowledge the fear and the worry. I accept the challenge. I celebrate the necessity, the urgency and the will.

From here . . . here we go.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Happy 100 celebrations! I haven’t shared 100 times yet. But, in the future, I will get there. Every celebration gives me more.

Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. This week, knowing that I must celebrate allowed me to frame this challenge in the most positive way possible. Healthy for me, necessary for my students.

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How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider

This is not a comprehensive “how to” list because it has been my experience that when people begin with, “I need to work on my classroom library . . . ” they have, at the most, a twenty minute attention span before they can’t absorb any more. There is a lot to consider and time to process is necessary.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

*I am often asked to share a photo of my classroom library. The thing is . . . my classroom is a library. Where is the library within the classroom? Where is the classroom within the library? Who knows? Throughout this post, I will share various photos from my classroom library. Will I capture every part? Probably not.

Thinking classroom libraries? Have 20 minutes? 20 points to consider

#1 Read the books in your classroom library for pleasure, just like you want your students to read them. Appreciate the illustrations. Giggle. Reread amazing lines. Fall in love with the stories. Don’t just read with lessons and themes in mind.

#2 If you haven’t read the books or you don’t know about the books (familiar with the author, series, have read detailed reviews, etc.) you won’t be able to talk about the books. Unless your students are familiar with particular titles already, they won’t read them. They need your blessing, your expertise and eventually, your guidance in cultivating their own ability to be each other’s reading community.

#3 Book talk, book talk, book talk. And then book talk some more. Read an excerpt. Rave. Show a book trailer. Have students or guests share what they love.

#4 Organize your library like you love it (and don’t you?). All of those special books need special places to be.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#5 Weed your collection. If it’s old and falling apart, it needs to go. If it is never read and you wouldn’t want to read it, pass it on. If it is well loved, falling apart and still circulating, try and replace it.

#6 Reflect your readers. Their interaction and use of the books is what makes it a functioning library. It can be beautiful. It can be organized. If nobody is reading the books, none of that matters. This year, I will have a younger group so I spent some time moving some titles more suited to intermediate readers into temporary storage bins. If I notice that my new readers are crazy for a particular genre, author or series, I will try and add more of those titles into our collection. The library is not fixed, it’s fluid.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#7 Give a library orientation. Make sure your students know how to find the books they are looking for. They won’t know by osmosis. Bring out the bins, do mini tours, give them time to explore and then lots of time to read what they find.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#8 Systems matter. The labels, the bins, how to put books back, how to borrow books (if they go home) how long you can have one particular book, etc. All of it matters so everyone has access and the library runs smoothly. A few of my “tricks”: stickers on the back that correspond to stickers on the bins, lots of review with how to use the system and a “chapter book return” and “picture book return” bin in case the students don’t remember where to put the books. There is no one way to do it. Figure out what works for you and your readers.

#9 Match bins (if you use bins) for a visually less busy look. Some people have all uniform size and colour for bins. Others have one kind for picture books and another for novels. I ended up with numerous bins – some with multiple sections that are quite expensive so I don’t want to toss them all out and start new. In my library, colour is connected to genre. Red is fiction (picture books). Yellow is for buddy reading and beginning titles. Blue is for series. Green is for comics and graphics. Clear is nonfiction. There is no reason for this other than it worked for the books and the bins I had.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#10 The importance of outward display can never, ever, be over stated. The covers can be seen? Those books will be read more often. Guaranteed. If possible, have multiple book shelves where you can display the covers. Ledges, mounted rain gutters, tops of white boards – all of these things work too!

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#11 Keep track of what books in a series you have. When you are in the bookstore and there is a sale, you will not remember if it is Baby Mouse #14 or #15 that you still need. You really won’t. I have a little notebook where I keep lists of titles I have and titles I need and throw that notebook in my bag whenever I go book shopping.

#12 Sometimes when a reader finds a series, it is meant to be. While they are hooked, make sure they can find what they are looking for. Keep series together where they can easily be accessed.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#13 Students don’t have to have access to all the books all the time. It’s okay to have a read aloud collection.  Just don’t store those books and forget about them. Share them. Keep them circulating.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#14 Know books – not just the books in your collection, but the books that could be a part of it in the future. Keep current! Read blogs that book lovers keep. The #IMWAYR and #nfpb2015 community (follow those twitter hashtags) will keep you in the know. The Nerdy Book club blog (you are following this blog right?) also has a list of blogs on its site.

#15 Add to your collection. Everyone loves new books! It is always exciting to share them. New titles bring renewed life to your library. Unveil them and bring them in with some kind of ceremony and lots of gushing and students will be rushing to read them.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#16 A classroom library requires ongoing upkeep. It’s like a garden. You can’t plant it and expect it to flourish all on its own. It will take time both during the year and possibly on some school breaks to keep things running smoothly and to make necessary changes.

#17 Spend the time being reflective and thinking about organization – as your library grows, you want to still be able to lay hands on a title you are looking for. If your organizational systems makes sense (to you) this will always be possible.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

#18 A library is an investment. It takes time. It takes money. If it takes less money (outright spending), it will take more time (sourcing titles, dealing with donations, writing wish lists, visiting garage sales, etc.) There is no way around this.

#19 You will never be done. Creating a classroom library is a labour of love. Enjoy it. Tinker. Fiddle. Sit in the middle of the floor and read a book. Make new favourites. Revisit old favourites. Move things around. Watch your readers to see what’s working. Get back in there and change some things again.

#20 Whenever you feel a little bit of book shopping guilt, think about the number of readers who will love each title. Each book, really, is priceless.

How to organize a classroom library: 20 points to consider There's a Book for That

There are some things I didn’t touch on here that I often get asked so let’s make it 25 things 🙂

  • No, I don’t level the books in my library but yes, I know how to find the right books for the right readers when difficulty level is an issue. Students are readers and they need to feel like there are lots of possibilities, not lots of limits.
  • Yes, I do spend a lot of my own money. When I can, I access donations, gifts, books passed on. Sometimes, I am blessed to receive books for my room from a variety of generous people. There can never be too many books and I do my best to pass on books to other classroom or school libraries when I can. But I believe in very big ways in having a room full of books for students to access and I don’t ever regret investing in making this happen for the children I teach.
  • Yes, I do make changes to my classroom library every summer. Sometimes, minor, sometimes more extreme. I do have it all figured out for about five minutes every year and then I get some new ideas or learn something new and . . .
  • No, there is no perfect book purchasing list out there for you. It does exist, but you have to make it and realize that it will change over time to reflect your readers and their interests.
  • Yes, I would love to hear from you! Anything to add? Your own helpful hints? Please share in the comments so that we can continue the conversation.

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My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, ten important features

Celebration: Talking Classroom Libraries

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: A room full of nonfiction

Literary Nest Building 101

Literary Nest Building 101

When I said the final goodbyes to my students in June, it was goodbye to a group of children I have shared a classroom with for two or three years. A reading community with a culture of reading that was well established. At 2:30 p.m. on our last day of school, what were we doing? Reading! Books connected us and enriched our lives.

We had the reading groove going on. There was back and forth trust with our recommendations. We breathed in deep as we settled into read alouds. We communicated with wide eyes, arched eyebrows and raised shoulders as we listened. We craved daily independent reading time.  We were readers.

Literary Nest Building 101 How to build a culture of reading There's a Book for That

These children were discerning when it came to new books. They were as apt to gush ” I LOVE that book,” as to comment “Well, it was mostly good but . . ” We knew certain books would be loved by some and other books would be treasured by all. I chose what I shared carefully. Generally, I delivered amazing choices because what I shared was based on the recommendations of a wise, appreciated group of book lovers (yes, I am talking to you Nerdy Book Club members) who want to deliver the best on the page to the children in their charge. Best for the best.

But this fall, I will have a brand new group of students. A younger group with fresh interests and experiences. My challenge? To win them over to the land of reading.

The impatient part of me wants to do this instantaneously. Let’s fall in love at first sight and embark on our journey together as book lovers. But I have learned. The 9 and 10 year olds I sent off surrounded in words, images and book love were 7 and 8 year olds two years ago. I began then at the beginning. I remember when they first arrived, things felt slightly off kilter. I bemoaned that I couldn’t dive deep into heavy, heady picture books and richly written novels. I had to begin differently. Start where they were. I learned that when you find the right match – the right books for the readers in front of you, the reading experience becomes instantly rich. Thankfully, I learned this quickly and we began to discover new books to love together.

Now, a few years later, I need to dust off my patient self and approach this new group with more experience, deeper commitment and careful and best intentions. I want to do it right. Wrap them in book love and let them settle. Not squeeze too tight. Let the books do their thing. Build a literary nest in which to nurture these new readers. When we fly, we will soar. But first there is going to be a little bit of bumbling about. Some falls. Some reading journeys that need more lift off. The right wind. Smoother landings. We will get there. One book at a time. Shared together. Shared between us. The love of reading doesn’t need to be found. It just sometimes needs to be switched on. The stories, the connection, the communication, the sharing; reading brings all of these things to a community.

Literary Nest Building 101 How to build a culture of reading There's a Book for That

What is my plan? To keep certain things in mind. Patience. Humour. Celebration. I will read daily and often. I will reveal the huge part of me that is a book lover. A brazen book lover who shares books in big, booming, leap about ways but who is also a sharer of stories and lets there be silence, pauses and time to absorb.

I will be deliberate.

We will be book explorers. We will learn how to navigate each and every part of a book. The end pages, the pattern on the spine and the under the jacket surprises. We will read every name: the author, the illustrator and the dedications. Books have little secrets. There are mysteries tucked away in all kinds of places if you look carefully.

We will laugh and giggle. Through humorous books we will begin associating reading with fun and joy. We will become quickly addicted. The power of a funny story with little readers can never be underestimated.

We will honour visual literacy. Through wordless titles we will participate in “tell alouds.” We will learn that experiencing a story doesn’t have to involve reading a single word. For beginning readers, this is all powerful.

We will create shared experiences and chances to share. Guest readers will be invited in. We will write and post book reviews. We will connect with authors and illustrators. We will give the gift of reading to our kindergarten buddies.

Literary Nest Building 101 How to build a culture of reading There's a Book for That

We will let nonfiction books tease out questions, awe and first ever discoveries. We will put down the books and talk and wonder together. In various ways, we will try to catch all of the new knowledge that happens in the room

I will read books that will make them mad. Books that make them sad. Joyous. Safe. Confused. I will honour the feelings. We will sit with these emotions together quietly. Or we will rage and shout. All of our reactions will be accepted and allow us to make our worlds bigger.

We will find books where they can find themselves. Other books will introduce them to lives and people they have never imagined.

We will develop listening stamina through reading chapter books. We will get lost in the characters. We will feel stories deeply and fully. We will let our thinking be transformed.

In our classroom, we will have time to read, time to talk and time to read aloud.

I will watch the impact of certain titles on certain readers. When I pay attention, I will be better equipped to find the right books for the right readers and make sure that every reader has many books to love.

All of this won’t happen week one.

Maybe not even month one.

But I will know the moment it does.

My tightly woven nest won’t be empty. But it will no longer be the place where I gather children and ready them for reading journeys. It will, instead, start to expand and grow, becoming the place where readers land and take flight.

 

Sunday Reflections: Goals for my Readers

Sunday Reflections: Goals for my Readers There's a Book for That

One thing that became very clear to me in May was that assessment that has to be done for the sake of files, records and funding often makes me frustrated. But this is not a post about the assessment that I must do. Instead, I want to think about the goals I have for my students as readers so that I can be clear about certain things.

What am I looking for when I observe my students in the first few weeks?

How does what I see along with the goals I have shape directions for teaching and learning?  

What ongoing data do I need to measure how individual students are progressing?

What is the best data/assessment to use for this purpose?

What can we celebrate?

What is really important?

How does our reading community support the readers in the room?

Sunday Reflections: Goals for my Readers There's a Book for That

My Teacher Librarian and I work together daily in my classroom during Reading Workshop. We met in early June and made a list of goals to guide us in working with a new group of readers (likely a Grade 2/3 class) in the fall. We didn’t start with curriculum guides or performance standards. Instead, we started with our collective experience (over 20 years each) and sense of what our little readers and learners need.

Some of these things will happen early on in the year and some will develop over the course of the year. Of course, individual students will progress at their own rates.

This is our list with a few additions and a little tweaking. Of course, many things will happen in our literacy learning but this list should help keep us on track and allow us to continue to respond to the changing needs of our students.

Our goals for our readers? 

Each reader will . . .

  • self-identify as a reader
  • have a passion for books and literacy experiences
  • be able to independently read/interact with text for at least 15 minutes and build his/her reading stamina over the course of the year
  • be able to distinguish between fiction and nonfiction texts
  • be able to use the features in nonfiction texts to obtain information
  • have an understanding of genres
  • be able to self-select “good fit” texts for independent reading (thinking about interests and levels)
  • develop listening stamina and active listening skills
  • be able to talk about books and participate in learning conversations in partner, small group and whole class discussions
  • be able to share an opinion about what we are reading together and what he/she is reading independently
  • develop a variety of strategies to make meaning
  • be able to demonstrate comprehension through retelling, identifying the main idea and summarizing key points
  • use a variety of comprehension strategies (i.e. visualizing, inferring) when reading
  • read widely as well as develop a growing repertoire of favourite authors, genres, series, etc.
  • use a variety of strategies to figure out unknown words
  • make progress along a continuum in terms of being able to read at grade level. For our more vulnerable readers, reasonable goals can be set and more intense one to one time provided in the context of Reading Workshop. For our other readers, we hope that each child will be reading at or above grade level by the end of the year.
  • make time to read at home

Sunday Reflections: Goals for my Readers There's a Book for That

Obviously, our goals are shaped by the ages and stages of our students. What are your goals for the readers in your room this year? I’d love to hear!

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features

Summer in my world means bright early mornings, family vacations to the ocean, long afternoons of reading and classroom library tinkering! Sometimes the tinkering is a full out overhaul like this reorganization two years ago that involved moving shelves, switching bins and massive weeding.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Other years, it is a lot of adding to the collection and rethinking organization. This year, I am about to embark on some more big changes. I will likely have a Grade 2/3 class this year after teaching Grade 3/4 last year. Some series will go into storage and displays will change. I have more weeding to do and many books to label and add to the collection. I also have some donated books to sort through – some will become part of my classroom library, some I will share with other teachers and some will make their way home with readers.

I LOVE this work. Interacting with the books reminds me of titles I need to promote and stories that must be read. I also love the time to think about how Reading Workshop will roll out this year with a new group of students. Always, I want our library to be well used, well loved and working for all of the children in the room.

As I work this summer, I plan to share some of my thinking. Maybe it will be helpful to someone out there and it is always a useful process for me. Sharing, after all, promotes the best kind of learning there is.

I believe in a room full of books and time to read them. I also celebrate lots of book displays, incredible illustrations, an organization system that makes sense and a place for student voice.

Today’s post? Ten important features in my classroom library, beyond the books.

What are they and why are they important?

Book Jacket Wallpaper 

In my teacher resource area live lots of books and a wall of book jackets. This photo shows three layers of jackets. The “wallpaper” actually goes up another four rows. The message? That books are important: they are treasured, they are beautiful and they impact everything we do.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Behind the Scenes Organization

Every book that makes it into the collection is labelled with my name and “stickered” with the bin code. The trick to keeping the sticker on? Scotch tape. Labelled books mean that they can all find their homes when not being read.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Reader Statements

In January of 2014 I had the opportunity to hear Pat Johnson and Katie Keier authors of Catching Readers Before They Fall here in Vancouver. One of my take away pieces of learning was about using Reader’s Statements to communicate what readers do. For example: Readers think about what they read or listen to or Readers make sure what they read makes sense. I now record Reader’s Statements that come out of student conferences and post these up with the name of the child that talked about the idea. We refer to these often!

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Book Return Bins

Some students put books away really well after learning the system. Other students find this more difficult. These big bins allow students to “return” books to a central area and a student volunteer of one of us working in the room will return the books at a later time.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Book Boxes

Each of my readers has his or her own book box. It is supposed to be for the books we are currently reading. But often our book joy overflows and many many books end up in these boxes. We work on prioritizing, keeping lists and letting books back out to be read by others. As one brilliant student always reminds us, “The books aren’t going anywhere. They are here all year for you to read.”

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

20 Beautiful Books Shelf

I have many special books in my collection. Some might be a signed copy. Others might be saved for specific read alouds. Some were important gifts. But, it doesn’t feel right keeping them all away from the readers in the room. So, this year I started using this shelf and we call it the 20 Beautiful Books Shelf because it always has 20 books on it and well, they are beautiful! Each of these books has a green sticker on the back and must be returned to the shelf after reading. I switch the titles here every few weeks.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Recently Read/Book talked Fiction Shelf

If I read a book or book talk it, it goes onto this shelf. These titles sometimes go back into my “resource” collection and get circulated when they take a turn on the “20 beautiful books shelf.” Other titles are library books and get returned to the library. Some books end up in our class collection. But after we have all enjoyed them together, they hang out here for a while so that they can be located easily when a reader wants to read one of them again. This shelf gets a lot of love!

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Recently Read/Book talked Nonfiction Shelf

And if fiction books are loved? So are nonfiction! And equally so! So I have a shelf for our nonfiction titles too. See the explanation above for fiction.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Favourite Read Aloud Bin

Sometimes, our recently read shelf gets full and I need to move some books out. When I try, there is often loud protesting! “No, we are still reading that one a lot!” (Rereading is celebrated in our room!) Sometimes, a book needs to go here so it can be found easily and that it gets a special place of honour. The bin is empty in September and slowly fills up throughout the year.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

These titles came out of the Favourite Read Aloud bin at the end of the 2013/2014 year.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

Book Jacket Vocabulary

I love to highlight the nonfiction titles we have read and all of the learning that happened through our reading, writing and discussions. I post book jackets with key vocabulary and leave them up all year. Students often refer to the word lists and I use the words as prompts for review.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

The most important part of all of this?

That my students feel that they learn in a “wonderland of books.”

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for thatAll of these books and all of the organizing means that it often looks like this in my room. This is buddy reading with the Ks – lots of reading, lots of engagement, lots of literacy.

Exactly how it should be.

My Classroom Library: Beyond the books, 10 important features There's a book for that

In this recent post, I talk about questions to think about when setting up a classroom library.

What features in your classroom library make it work for your readers?

Celebration: Camp Read

Sometimes a day just must be celebrated with lots of details. Today was that day. It was Camp Read at my school. All day, all literacy, all the time.

There was an author visit. We got to do yoga twice. Once outside. We had buddy reading for a second time this week. Lots of independent reading. Lots of reading aloud. I mean, really, could this get much better?

Our day began with the magical book Dream Boats written by Dan Bar-el  and illustrated by Kirsti Anne Wakelin. This is a beautiful book to read aloud. It is lyrical and full of gorgeous images.

DreamBoats Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

After I read the story, Miriam led us through some yoga experiences where we got to ride on our own imagined dream boats. Who says you need a boat to go sailing? Or even water.

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That  Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

We then got to go and meet author Dan Bar-el and listen to his engaging presentation. One of my students got to introduce Dan and then she spent the entire presentation in awe of his hilarious voices and dramatic retellings of his books.

“How does he do those voices? Really – how does he make his voice do that?!”

Such a fun and entertaining author visit! The children talked about it all day!

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

After recess, we had a very special guest reader come to our classroom. Our school secretary Sally came in and read us the charming book Library Lion written by Michelle Knudsen and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

Library Lion  Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

It was so wonderful to share the story experience with an adult who is very dear to us but isn’t often in the classroom with us.

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

After reading some of our current class novel Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles, we headed outside to read Silence by Lemniscates.

Silence  Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

A book like this must be followed by some mindful, quiet listening. And then some yoga.

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

Sun salutations.

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

Growing “seeds”

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

Group balance

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

After lunch we read more books – one aloud – Papa’s Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov – and many on our own.

Papa's MEchanical Fish  Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

We also had a visit from our little reading buddies. Which is always delightful!

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

Celebrate this week

 Celebration: Camp Read There's a Book for That

This week, I celebrate a beautiful day full of literacy. A day that highlights that so many of our days are full of literacy. Surrounded by stories. Inspired by books. Definitely worth celebration.

Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community! Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks. Read all of the celebrations by following the links shared here.

celebrate-link-up