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You Oughta Know: Classroom Library Cards

Hi Teacher Friends! So glad you are stopping by on this fabulous blog hop hosted by the wonderful Jasmine McClain from Buzzin with Mrs. McClain. This month, I thought you oughta know about setting up a classroom library.

One of my teacher friends, Chelsea, sought my help with setting up her classroom library before the start of school. She works in a charter school and there is NO central library for the students to use. I, for one, was really thrown by this. The library was my favorite place to be as a child, so I felt so bad about these kids missing out of the joy of a room that smells of learning and old books. When I was in elementary school, I would literally spend all my time in the library putting books back and helping the librarian, instead of playing outside like a normal child. Probably explains why I love books, kids, and learning so much.
Me and My sister. I know it looks like Little House on the Prairie but it was the early 90s people.
Anyhoo, my love of libraries aside, Chelsea needed a system in her classroom that would keep track of the books and have minimal interruption for her. Instead of central library, each teacher has a classroom library that students can check books out of by their homeroom.

Below is a view of the classroom before 
I know! Those walls need some love! Keep Reading below!

Each of the books were sorted by their lexile level and by their genre. She needed a way of categorizing them, labeling them for easy return, a recommendation system, and a clear checkout system. Whoa, I know. A lot. 

Everything is manageable if you approach in bite sized pieces. 

The information below references the work I did with Chelsea. 
Take it. Apply it. Use it.

Step 1: Establish clear grouping system for the books

Grouping your books by genre is one step away from the madness. Think of a few methods and weigh the pros and cons of each method.   She had already developed rough categories for all of her books, so we were able to think of more age appropriate categories for some of her books. The mere act of explaining her system to me gave her insight to potential issues that we could then work to troubleshoot around. She ended up sorting them by their lexile level (collected from Scholastic) and genres that would work with middle school children.

Step 2: Think through accountability systems for your classroom library

Use the following questions as guides:
  • How will the books get put back in the correct bin?
  • How will you know who has what book?
  • What times can students check out books?
  • Is there a penalty for lost books?
  • Can they take the books home?
  • How are students engaging with the text?
  • What can students do to show their comprehension?
  • Is there a goal of the number of books for the student to read?
  • What are your specific goal for student reading levels?
Based on working together, we combined her responses to the questions to create a system that will work in her classroom. 

Step 3: Implement

 Below is the final iteration of our work together. 
1. Bin Labels

Chelsea decided on a star theme. I quickly made these labels for her to place on the front of her bins. Follow this link if you want to download them. Unfortunately, these aren't editable but you can see what they look like.

As always, just email if there are any changes you would need to make them yours :)

2. Library Cards

I created these library cards to place inside of standard sized library card holders.

The card is designed to peek out of the top of the holder. Each holder is labeled with the student's name and lexile level so that Chelsea can see who has what book and if that book was an appropriate choice for them. Looking back at the questions, it is easy to see that we thought about the consequences of the lost books.  Each student had to sign their card to promise to take care of the book and they were responsible for replacing the book if it were lost. 
This is the link for the Reading Check Out Cards if you are interested. :)

3. Independent Reading Tracker
Chelsea set the goal of 15 books for the semester, along with specific requirements of  how many books from a specific genre were required for the students. This accountability tracker is maintained by the students and checked periodically. This system provides the students with more flexibility and choice in the selection of their books, which is important for their interest and motivation for reading. 

4.Star Recommendation Tags
I created star tags so that the students could recommend specific books to their classmates. It was designed so that that blank space from the first picture will be filled up with lovely stars and book recommendations. She is going to color code them by genre so that students can get specific information on a specific genre to fulfill their reading requirements.

Step 4: Enjoy the silence of children reading

This really is the whole point of this system. Students who didn't have access to a standard library now have an organized system for selecting texts of their choice and meet their outcomes.  YAY!

Thanks so much for reading and learning with me today! 
Chelsea also ended up using these free reading comprehension trackers to help track her students; reading comprehension. Click the picture if you would like it for you very own!

Thanks again to Jasmine for hosting! Now, keep hopping and winning at life in general!

1 comment

  1. Thank you for the wonderful labels. I especially love that they have the bin numbers on them.


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