I've noticed many questions on Facebook lately about class libraries. Teachers are curious about how others set them up and what technology is available to track books. To help answer some of those questions, I thought I'd share how I set up my class library.
The first question is usually "how do you organize your books?" There are many options, alphabetically by author or title, by genre, by reading level, by theme, the list can go on. In the past I had my books sorted by genre, but students often complained (and wasted a lot of time looking) that they could not find books on their reading level. Our school requires that students must pick books in their zpd (zone of proximal development). My personal thoughts on this are for another blog, but agree or disagree with the philosophy, the fact of the matter is my students wanted a quick way to find books on their level. So, this has led me to reorganizing my library by reading level.
The next question I usually get is "how do you keep it organized. As you can see from the picture above, I have chosen to keep my books in buckets. There are many places to get buckets, but I got mine from Dollar Tree for a $1.00 a piece. This will be my fourth year using them and they have held up well. If you're interested in the ones I have, here's the link (note: if you buy them online, you have to buy them in a bundle of 36. But 36 buckets for $36.00 isn't too bad, because you know teachers, we love our buckets.). Once I have the books organized into buckets each bucket is labeled showing what it contains and a corresponding label is put on each book that goes in that bucket. There are many classroom library labels that you can find on TeacherspayTeachers. These are the ones I used.
Another question I've been asked is "where do I write the reading level of the book?" My school uses Accelerated Reader (AR) and as mentioned above, students have to chose books in their reading level, or zpd. For me, I found it easiest to have this information right on the front of the book so the students could easily locate the information. I also include how many AR points they can receive if they pass the AR test after reading the book. Additionally, if the the title is common or difficult to look up, I sometimes include the AR quiz number. If you are wondering where to find this information, go to arbookfind.com and type in the title of the book. If the title doesn't come up, that means AR doesn't have a quiz for that book.
The last thing I want to share is how I keep track of all my books. I use a web application called Book Source Classroom Organizer. The web application also works in conjunction with their phone app. You can download it for your iPhone or Android phone.
The app allowed me to enter in all the books in my library by scanning the barcode of each book. My purpose for doing so is to have a way to keep track of my books and have a way to easily and quickly check them out to my students.
Quick note, if you download the app, I recommend first going to the website to create your account. I had difficulty trying to create it through the app. When you get to Booksource.com scroll about half way down the page. You'll see Booksource Classroom Organizer. Click on the Learn More button.
On the next page click on Create a New Account.
After you have an account created, you are ready to login on your phone and start scanning in books.
I have had some people ask about books with no barcodes or books with unscanable barcodes. You have two options. You can manually type in the book information. Or, you can use this barcode generator to print a new barcode. It was very simple to use. I looked up the title of my book on Amazon, copied the 13 digit ISBN number from the product details and pasted it into the generator. Then I clicked Give Me My Barcode. The barcode was downloaded onto my computer. The last step was to use my computer snip-it tool to grab an image of the barcode after I opened it (because it comes in a .pdf which filled a whole sheet of paper and I wanted to conserve paper) and insert it into a document. By doing this I was able to print several barcodes at once.
Once you have your books in inventory, the next step is to add your students. From the phone app, click on the menu button and choose Manage Students. Then follow the steps in the pictures below.
Now that the students are entered, then students can start checking out books. Click on the menu button and choose Checkout. Then follow the steps in the pictures below.
To Return a book click on the menu button and choose Return. Then follow the steps in the slide show below.
I plan to have a Return Bucket in my classroom where students can place books when they're finished with them. When I have time, I'll check them in, or have one of my classroom librarians (one of my student jobs) check them in. Then my classroom librarian will reshelve the the books.
To end with, I want to share some screen shots from the web application. Because although the phone app is very handy for scanning barcodes and checking out books, the web application has a lot of useful information. When you logon as a teacher, you land on the Dashboard page (displayed below). The dashboard gives you a quick overview of how many overdue books you have, how many books are checked out, and how many students have books, among other information.
One important feature I want to point out can be found when you click on Library. On this page you will find an inventory of all your books. There are four columns for each book: Actions, Title Details, Fiction/Nonfiction, and Guided Reading Level. But note, Guided Reading Level has a drop down arrow next to it. You can click it, and you have the option of switching between Guided Reading Level, Lexile Level, and AR Level. When I switched it to AR Level it gave me the AR level of, not all but, most of the books I had scanned in. I know a lot of teachers will love this feature.
I hope this in depth look at how I set up my classroom library and the application Booksource will help you as you prepare for the coming school year.
Just a place to share my thoughts about education, technology, and whatever else pops into my head.