Monday, January 11, 2010

About Reader's Workshop: Arranging a Classroom Library

One of the biggest parts of Reader's Workshop is having a classroom library. Which means you have to work out some way of organising it. When I first started classroom teaching (I actually began with a contract in the school library - book heaven!) I only had enough books to fill the top shelf of a trolley, so organising a whole library wasn't much of a problem. By the end of the first year, though, I had more books than storage space, so I ended up buying a cheap, second hand book shelf and spray painting it (terribly dodgy job). That, plus a bookshelf in the classroom, held most of my books that year, even if they were kind of jammed in strangely.

Last year I had the best classroom with shelves all down one side (bliss!). At first I just stuck the books in, but they were disorganised - no genre arrangements, favourite books were hard to find and there were a lot of good books going unread. So I decided to rearrange (luckily I had a student teacher who took charge of the teaching, while I could label books!). I finished it up over the mid year holidays, and revealed it when we began Reader's Workshop part way through the year.

There were several key features of my classroom library:
  • Books facing forward: I purchased cheap plastic containers from the local discount shop (effectively selling them out . . .) to arrange the books in. I found that the minute I started facing them out, students would try new books. They also liked to look through the containers to find books they wanted to read
  • Books arranged into topics: While we had traditional genres like mystery, sci fi and fantasy, I also had sections for favourite series (I inherited a tonne of Goosebumps books in 2008 and CHERUB books are hugely popular in the class), favourite authors and topics which interested the students. Each book has a sticker on the front cover, and each container has a tag.
  • Space to look at the books: Whenever I have crowded in front of bookshelves, books don't get read. It gets tricky, especially in 2009 in a very squished classroom, but space = more books read.
  • Recommended books display: Each student had their own recommended bookmark - eg. Sarah recommends. . . which they placed into a favoured book and stuck into the display. The students knew which of their classmates had similar tastes in books, and these books were often the first to leap off the display. I'd also put new books or some of my favourites in from time to time. To start the 2010 school year off, I'm going to put in books from the 2009 recommended list.
Next week I'll talk about how I build my classroom library.

Find out more about Reader's Workshop here


A Reader's Community

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Queensland, Australia
A Reader's Community is a place to find ideas, information, resources and recommendations about Reader's Workshop.

This Blog has five main types of posts.

About Reader's Workshop - information about Reader's Workshop in my classroom and how it works

Reader's Workshop Tools - resources you can access and use to help you with reader's workshop

Book talks - Book recommendations of two or three books centred around a particular theme

Book letters - in-depth reviews of one particular book

Reader's Workshop Links - Short links lists to help you find more information
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