I've been on a kick with PreK lessons lately...just experimenting with different lesson ideas and exploring different book options. As you all know, my collection is very old and I'm working hard to bring in new books. I had the idea of doing a lesson with PreK involving the making of a pizza after seeing this image on Pinterest from the www.shesaved.com website.
I thought it might be fun to read a story about making a pizza and then see if the kiddos could re-tell the steps. I searched my library high and low for the right book and just couldn't find anything exciting. Then, I remembered that when one of my son's was little, he loved Curious George books. There was a Curious George book about making and delivering a pizza....sure enough, it was in my library. Now, if I had other (more modern) books available, I certainly would try to use one. This particular book is a little dated. For example, the characters use a land line phone mounted on the wall, there is a jukebox in the restaurant, and it could be argued that there are some stereotypical characters, as well. But, it was what I had, this was PreK, and I felt like I could make it work.
The kids loved this book and the topic! I did a little introduction to ask students what they knew about pizza. They came up with some great responses! They knew it had to be cooked, it had cheese, it was a circle, that you can eat it, and that it could be cut! I did the read aloud and really emphasized the cooking of the pizza section. After that, we reviewed the steps for making the pizza that Tony the Baker had followed. I had these steps written on a dry erase board at the carpet area, but this was only for my benefit....
Finally, students moved to tables where they were given supplies to make their own pizzas. We reviewed the steps one at a time. They received:
*a paper plate
*an oval (but swiggly) red shape
*a cup with yellow squares and rectangles
*a brown or tan crayon
*a glue stick
As we reviewed each step, they completed their own project. We drew a big circle on our plate and colored it in with crayon for the dough. We then glued our red sauce on the plate in the center of the dough, being careful not to "spill" our sauce on the plate or the table. We added cheese....as much or as little as we liked. I normally try to take pictures of these activities in process, but this one took me and the two PreK teachers all of the energy and attention we could muster, so no photos...sorry.
I had a few early finishers so I took this project one step further. I had an empty library shelf nearby and told the kiddos this was my pretend oven. I put my imaginary oven mitts on for safety and then put my pizza in the oven for just a few minutes to cook it. I carefully pulled it out and it was ready to deliver. They went NUTS over this!!! Suddenly they all wanted to cook their own pizzas!!!!
At the close of the lesson, I had the boys and girls stand and carry their pizzas to deliver. I told them that their teacher would show them where to deliver them (basically, they were lining up to leave and returning to their classrooms where they would put the pizzas away to be delivered home). It worked GREAT!
There is so much potential with a lesson like this for the future. I would love to really work on more "how-to" and "step-by-step" type lessons with this age group. The pizza theme was a hit and I'd love to make a fake pizza oven from cardboard and maybe even have chef hats or oven mits to really get the theme going. Aprons might be fun! Lots of potential!
Now, I've got to get on the hunt for some updated literature. Not that Curious George is bad, but a more modern book selection would make my librarian heart happy.
Hamlet pondered the big question of his own existence. School librarians are pondering the big question of labeling. At the core of the question is the type of labeling being done. Under pressure to improve test scores and student growth percentiles in reading, many schools are now asking librarians to level the library or to place labels on books indicating a variety of reading levels, tests, or word count. School librarians are overwhelmingly against this sort of labeling. But on the other hand, librarians are embracing more readily the genre label. Many school librarians are making the leap into genrefication of their library collections without apology.
In my former position as a high school librarian, I genrefied a collection with huge success. It enabled me to weed the collection thoroughly, as well as identify needs in terms of collection development. It also reignited some interest in our library collection, as students were more easily able to locate the types of books they wanted to read. The biggest hit was creating a section for the graphic novels, the fastest growing genre in popularity among teens and elementary students alike.
Now I find myself only three months into my new position in an elementary school and I have the bug. I want to genrefy. But there are a few hurdles to overcome. I want to share my own journey. That's it. And so it begins with labels.
I have mentioned before that the books in my library are covered in labels. There are:
1. Is the book on my reading level? The kids are told what letter to look for and that is what they seek out. "You are an H, so only get an H book," said a teacher to a student just this week.
2. Is the book a Reading Counts book? The kids are told to test over every single book they read. If a book doesn't have a quiz, many teachers make students return the book and select one that does. Some teachers go as far as requiring students to pass the quiz over a book before allowing them to select a new book.
I cannot even begin to explain the frustration I feel with this. And the AASL's position on this type of labeling is clear:
One of the realities some school librarians face in their jobs is pressure by administrators and classroom teachers to label and arrange library collections according to reading levels. Student browsing behaviors can be profoundly altered with the addition of external reading level labels. With reading level labels often closely tied to reward points, student browsing becomes mainly a search for books that must be read and tests completed for individual or classroom point goals and/or grades. School library collections are not merely extensions of classroom book collections or classroom teaching methods, but rather places where children can explore interests safely and without restrictions. A minor’s right to access resources freely and without restriction has long been and continues to be the position of the American Library Association and the American Association of School Librarians.
Although I feel encouraged by the position statement, it doesn't ease the burden of the battle with the mindset at my school. It can be overwhelming to think about being the sole person trying to change this type of culture within a school. But a wise colleague reminded me "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." This is sage advise. And so...I begin with the labels.
I first went in to my book vendor websites and changed my labeling preferences for future book orders. I only want Reading Counts labels on the inside-cover (verso) of any new books. That way, the information is still available to teachers and students, but hopefully it won't be driving book selection, as it is no longer on the outside of the books.
The second thing is that I have decided to jump into genrefication a little sooner that I might normally would. By choosing to begin genrefying our fiction section, I can justify the removal of certain labels. But, it does mean adding new labels in the form of genre labels.
I first pulled all of my graphic novels from the fiction section of the library. I personally like that Dewey catalogs graphic novels as 741.5 and not fiction, however the previous librarian in my school had all of the graphic novels shelved as fiction with FIC call numbers. I worked to pull these as they were being checked back in by students and quickly added a "sub-location" category within Destiny. It was quick and easy. I then removed the guided reading letter labels, yellow reading counts labels, and any Lexile labels that were at the top of the spine of the book. I wanted to remove the Lexile dots at the base of the spine, but many of these are attached to the call number labels and I didn't want to commit to re-making all of those at this point in time. So, they will have to stay for now.
Once I had the former labels removed, I then could clean the book and add the new genre label. I ordered these from Demco, but many librarians are making their own custom labels. I liked the look of the Demco modern labels and for now, they have the categories I need.
I have completed most of the graphic novels at this point and they have been moved to a new section of the library, complete with new signage above the section that was ordered through Vista Print. I have these same signs above my other sections (Fiction, E Fiction, Nonfiction, Help desk) of the library and can share them in a future blog post if you guys are interested.
Last Friday I began working on the As and Bs in the fiction section of our collection. I have a good bit of those books weeded, cleaned, and ready for new genre labels. I will share pictures and more commentary as I work through this process. I will also share reaction from teachers and students.
I expect to get some push-back from teachers who are dedicated to the guided reading levels or RC tests as a method of student book selection, but I think that students will have a sense of freedom and empowerment when they can see the genres grouped together and can choose books based on their reading interests. This is a culture in our school and it will take time, patience, education, and open conversation to change it. But, the labels are a start.
If you want to see what others are doing or saying about genrefication and/or labels in the library, check out these resources:
Fountas and Pinnell article on leveling
Fountas and Pinnell statement in School Library Journal
Genre Signage compilation by Nikki D. Roberston
Expect the Miraculous blog
Mrs. Reader Pants blog
Mighty Little Librarian blog series on Ditching Dewey
Rhonda Jenkins article for Future Ready Libraries
Ideas for Labeling from Demco
AASL Position Statement on Leveling (labeling books with reading levels)
It was a busy week in The Happy Library! Monday started out with the long-awaited solar eclipse and it did not disappoint. Our young students were not allowed to view the eclipse outside, but did get to watch via Discovery Education's live stream. I gave certified glasses to all of our staff and they were able to sneak out of class to take a peek at the eclipse. It was as much fun watching them act like kids as it was to watch the eclipse! Even my principal (in the pink jacket) was giddy as she tried to take selfies with the sun.
We finished up our last week of the solar eclipse centers that I shared with you in the last post. The kids still enjoyed them, but I could tell that the excitement of it all had worn off a bit. Two weeks of rotation was just enough to make this a successful activity. My third graders begged to read instead of visiting centers, which made my heart melt, so many of them chose to just sit in our quiet area or at the tables and read....it was awesome. Notice that they are loving the book buddies to read with, too.
It was also the week of the library volunteer, meaning that when I invited students to come and help in the morning, I was overrun with almost 40 students!!! Lesson learned. I had to create a little application and several teachers have stepped up to help me make selections. The 4th and 5th graders have stepped up as clear leaders. I even have a few 3rd graders who I'm going to let help with dusting, straightening, and such. I'll do a separate post on my library volunteer program once I work out the kinks. The good news in all of this is that the students want to be in the library! They are taking ownership of the space and that means so much to me. It is certainly a step in the right direction for our library program.
And a final note about the collection. If you have been following me on Instagram, you know that I'm struggling with this aged book collection. I completed a collection analysis that revealed the average age of library books in our collection is 20 years old! About 67% of the collection is nonfiction...meaning we have some great nonfiction titles but very little to offer our fiction fans. There are only three sections of fiction books to the six sections of nonfiction.
I'm also at odds with the fact that there is little in the form of quality for our youngest readers. The entirety of offerings for our newest readers can fit onto one cart and most of it is very outdated. I shared all of this with our literacy committee and the principal. As most of you know, people get nervous when you start talking about weeding a collection, but it is necessary. I've placed the first book order and can't wait to see the kids faces when the new books are out. I'm going to make a VERY BIG deal about this. More info to come...
And with the outdated collection comes the cardboard magazine box signage. This way of labeling our shelves looks good when no one is using the library. But...after one or two classes have touched the books, it is a hot mess! These things are not sturdy enough to withstand constant handling and are typically falling down or crushed in by the end of the day. Plus...they don't do much for helping the books stay "in line" on the shelves.
I am on a mission to solve this problem. But, to be honest, I'm really wanting to genrefy. It is becoming evident that students do not know how to find what they are looking for. And with my students, they almost always ask "where are the mysteries?" or "do you have any funny books?"
I would also love to get some feedback on how all of you shelve your series. As you can see, my graphic novels are shelved in with my regular fiction, as are any other series. The signage is confusing for me, so I know that the students must struggle with it. I'd love to put my graphic novels in their own location. What about series? Do you guys use bins? How do handle this in your space? Let me know!
So, that's my recap of this past week. I learned a lot. My To-Do list got longer. But, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Who to follow: