Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The One With Positive Words

When it comes to decorating my classroom I like to mix the education decor with the inspiration decor.  

I'm a firm believer that if someone sees something often enough it will begin to sink in and stick with them for years to come.

There are posters from my elementary days that I can still see vividly in my mind.

I want to put as many positive thoughts into the heads of my students as I can.  So many of them have never been told that someone believes in them, that someone finds them special, that someone treasures them as a person.

It breaks my heart to know that.  I try my best to verbally express these thoughts to my students, but I also want them to be surrounded by them each and every day.

Pinterest is a great place to get inspirational printables.  Here are some of my favorites.  You can click on the pictures to go directly to the pin.

(Yes I share scripture with my students.  It's the most inspiring words I know)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The One With the Library

Back during the summer before the school year ever started, I began brainstorming ideas for my classroom library.   I wanted my library to be one that was easy for students to use and easy for me to maintain.

When it comes to your classroom library you have to find what works best for you.  Every teacher is different.

In talking with other teachers and looking for ideas online I found that there are 101 different ways to organize and maintain a classroom library.

Organize books by genre
Organize books by level
Organize books by title
Organize books by author

Label the level on the spine
Label the level inside the front cover

Place books on a shelf
Place books in tubs

Use library cards
Have a sign-out binder
No check out system at all

There really are a thousand combinations.

My classroom library - for the most part - was bought with money out of my pocket.  Though I accept the fact that some books will disappear from year to year, I really wanted a way to keep track of which student had which book.

I knew I needed it to be easy for me to keep up with or I would give up on it too easily.

I knew I wanted it to be something the students wouldn't mind doing.  I also wanted it to be something that wouldn't take a lot of their time.

Somewhere along the way I discovered the website that was the solution to all my library problems.  I'm pretty sure I discovered it through conversations on www.proteacher.net - a discussion board I love very much.

The website that solved all my problems?

It's perfect.  You enter all your students.  You enter all your books with as much or as little information as you choose.

I enter title, author, AR level, AR points, and whether it is fiction or nonfiction.

This is the hardest part, especially if you have a large library.  

You create a log-in and password.  In the beginning I didn't share this with my students.  I found myself constantly having to walk across the room to log in again because someone had accidentally logged out.  Eventually I changed the password and shared with students.

They can't hurt anything.  You create a second password that allows you access to the teacher page.  This is where you actually manage the online library.  

This has worked well for my classroom.  Students learned quickly how to use the website.  I have instructions by the computer that give the web address, user name, and password just in case someone forgets.

There are several reports that you can view as a teacher.  The one I use most often is a report that shows all the books currently checked out.  It tells you which students checked them out and when they checked them out.  Occasionally I'll print this and ask students about the books they have.  This is a great reminder for a student who has a book but isn't reading it.  I let them know they are preventing other students from reading that book.  It also helps me discover if anyone borrowed a book without checking it out.

The website is free.  There is also an app you can download that allows you to scan bar codes and add them to the library that way.  

It is super easy to use.  If you want to give it a try and have questions along the way, let me know.  I'll help you if I can.

One more thing... there is a report that shows you which books are checked out most often.  According to that report the TOP TEN books in my classroom library are...

1. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney
2. Notes From a Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick
3. Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick
4. After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick
5. Curveball and the Art of Faking it by Jordan Sonnenblick

(Can you tell we like Jordan Sonnenblick?)

6. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney
7. Ninth Grade Slays by Heather Brewer
8. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine
9. The Death Cure by James Dashner
10. Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

My preference for organizing a library?

Alphabetical by author's last name.

Nonfiction on its own shelf.

Points written inside the front cover.

It works for me. :)