Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Classroom Library Week {Part 6} Organizing Your Teaching Library

Today I want to share about having a Teaching Library.  Whenever I come across a good book that I want to use to teach a particular lesson (also called a Mentor Text), I put it in a special place.  In my classroom library last year, this was just a shelf I designated for my Teaching Library.  My students were not allowed to choose books from this shelf and I always went over that with them at the beginning of the year.

The reason I didn't want my students to read books from my Teaching Library is because sometimes the book needed to be a "cold text," for a particular lesson I was doing. I also want these books to be more special so that students will be more engaged and excited about them- they aren't just an everyday book we have in our classroom library. The third and final reason is book condition.  I want to be able to use these books for years to come.  I don't want to have to replace my Teaching Library books because they are torn or worn.  Some teachers might not agree with me on this- remember this is just my opinion! :)   

How to Organize your Teaching Library
Like I said above, last year I just had a separate shelf for my Teaching Library.   At the end of the year, I thought about sorting my books into categories or writing what lesson I used them for and then sticking that in a Post-It on the inside of their front cover.  I started doing this, but my books still weren't organized.  Then, I came across this gem on Mrs. Terhune's First Grade Site (this lady's got the organization goin' on!):

She organizes all of her unit materials in these Magazine Boxes from Mardel.  They also have plain white ones at Ikea (5 boxes for $2!!- but sadly it is only an in-store deal).   Then she labels each box and keeps all of the materials in each box.  That way, she knows right where they are!  I am sooooo doing this for my classroom this year!

What if I don't have a Mentor Text Library?
No worries!  You can check out all of the awesome mentor texts you want from your local library or even your school library.  Just use Google to find a good book that will work with your lesson, and then go check it out.  (Or, if you have some extra money laying around...buy it!)

Why is it important to have a Teaching Library?
I believe that it is essential for every teacher to have a good Teaching Library full of wonderful Mentor Texts to save you time and energy!  As much as I love the library, I don't want to have to take the time to search on the internet to find a book that will fit with my lesson, then go to the library's website and search to see which branch has the book I need, then take the time to drive to the library and pick up the book, then when I am finished, drive back to the library to drop off the book.  Even if you live close to the library and it is on your way to or from school, the extra 10-15 + minutes you would spend doing that could be spent doing something else in your classroom.  I know that 10-15 minutes doesn't seem like a lot of time- however, if you do this once a week every week of the school year, you will have spent a MINIMUM of 6 hours of your year just finding books for your lessons.  Personally, I would much rather walk over to my shelf in my classroom, find the Magazine Box labeled with the unit I'm doing, and find the exact Mentor Text I want to use in about 1 minute.  

One other reason I like to have a good Mentor Text Teaching Library is because you never know when you might change your lesson plans last minute to incorporate something else you didn't think of.  If you have a great Teaching Library right at your fingertips, it's easier to be more flexible with your lessons.  

Last year I taught in a small town.  The next largest town wasn't that big either.  Neither town had a good public library.  This forced me to create my own Teaching Library due to circumstances.  I am happy about it now, though, because I have a fantastic Teaching Library full of some stinkin' awesome books! 

If you are a new teacher, or have moved to a new grade or new class and don't have a lot of mentor texts built up yet in your Teaching Library, no worries! You will get there.  You may have to do the library thing the first year... also be on the look out at thrift stores for great mentor texts!  They are swimming with them! :)

Happy reading!