Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Workshop Wednesday - Prep & Tunes Tuesday Rocked!

So I'm linking up with my favorite linky ever, Workshop Wednesday from Ideas by Jivey! I've got kind of a random posting of thoughts today regarding preparing for a successful reading workshop.

I'm a big believer in student choice, and this comes into play in a few different areas in my class when it comes to reading. First, the students need to be able to choose books that are a "good fit" for them.
Student choosing a book from the hundreds in my room!
The Two Sisters explain in their books all about the IPICK idea of choosing good fit books, but the thing I want to focus on (that I think some teachers forget the importance of) is that second I, interest. So, if a kid is going to choose their own book, and it has to be interesting (and on the right level) then that means one of the biggest things a teacher needs to do to prepare for reading workshop is to build a giant classroom library! And of course, if you have a giant classroom library then you need to organize it somehow! And if you organize it somehow, then the mouse will want another cookie! I mean, the kids will be able to find new books quickly.

So, step 1: Build that library!

I have a HUGE classroom library, and quite frankly am kind of a snob when it comes to classroom libraries. When I walk into a classroom and see that an experienced teacher has one little shelf of books I have to admit that I shake my head a little bit to myself and wag my finger at them (in my mind only, of course.) There are lots of ways to get books for your room if you're willing to a) spend a little money and/or b) put a little work into it. 

I yard sale, go to Goodwill (LOTS of cheap books there!), and bargain bin hunt in other stores of course, but one thing I do to build my library is use Scholastic Book Clubs in my class. It always amazes me when I meet a teacher who doesn't do this. I just can't help but wonder "Why NOT?!" I know some of you are reading this and thinking, "Everyone knows about Scholastic Book Clubs." But they don't. I meet a few teachers every year who don't. And I know a LOT of teachers who know about them, but don't use them...(finger wag) 

Some of those books!
I buy the dollar deal books pretty much every month, along with a few others when I put my students' orders in online. But the best part (besides putting books into my kids' hands) is the points system. Points can be exchanged for free books, and I've gotten literally hundreds of free books over the years. 

More of those books!
The second way that a lot of teachers know about, but don't use for some through (or another similar grant program). I've not used it for books, but I did get that big fancy $400 rolling bookcase in that picture up there through them. If you haven't done it yet, you should really think about trying it out. I've had 4 projects funded through them over the last 4 years. It's super easy to do! It amazes me when I do a search on my area for active projects and only find a couple. There are HUNDREDS of teachers in my district, so why aren't there hundreds of projects?

Even more books!
Of course, the problem posed by having a thousand books is that you need to organize them or else the kids will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices. I arrange my books in multiple ways, and the kids are trained to go through steps to find new books. In fifth, I always wanted the kids to have 2 books in their queue. Now that I'm moving to 3rd/4th I will have "book boxes" for the kids to queue up around 4 books at a time.

New readers might not have seen my
"read bead" post about reading through
the genres. Go check it out!
I organize my library by genre, media type, and lexile level. The kids in my class are expected to read across the genres throughout the year, so their first step is to decide which of the genres they would like to tackle. 

We use MAP testing in my district, which provides me with the students' lexile level. The kids know their own Zones of Proximal Development, so they begin their search in that range of books. Once a kid has narrowed their search to "Mystery Books in a 600-700 lexile range" or "Sci-fi Graphic Novels around 500" it's easy for them to make a choice. Kids make these choices in their spare time, not during reading time. This is why I insist they have that queue of books I mentioned. Read to Self is NOT choose-a-book time.

My big challenge to tackle this summer involves all those books pictured above. Those are just the books I have taking up space in the closets of the spare bedrooms at my house. I taught Kindergarten through 2nd grade for 10 years before I moved to 5th 2 years ago. Most of my picture books and low level chapter books didn't translate to 5th, but now that I am moving to 3rd/4th (!!!) I need to go through all of them (and the ones in my classroom) and create my new classroom library and reorganize it all! Waaaaaah!

Alright, random tip of the day. We keep a little magnetic spice jar on our kitchen magnet board to save boxtops in. When I accrue a decent amount, I take them in to school!

If you stuck around to the end of this long-winded post, you're a saint! Now if you have the stamina go and read some of the other great posts in the linky!

Tunes Tuesday rocked by the way! Check out all the links in my previous post if you haven't already! It was such a success, and due to a few people requesting it, I'll be doing it again one day! Be on the look out!


  1. I agree with everything you said about kids having choice in reading!!! As I get ready to move into my first classroom (yay!) I'm working on building my classroom library (and even have my friends on the lookout at yard sales, etc). Since my own kids have outgrown the books at my grade level, I was able to steal, I mean borrow, from their bookshelves, and I'm definitely using Scholastic book clubs! If you have one of their warehouses near you (check their website) they have sales several times a year where you can get great deals too.

  2. I am also a bookaholic! I have more books than space in my new classroom. How do you store it all? I'd love some tips...
    Grade 4 Buzz

  3. Nick,
    Who are these Two Sisters you speak of, and what is the IPICK method? Also, excellent idea for boxtops storage, must steal.

    1. The Two Sisters are the creators/writers of the Daily 5 and CAFE books. I highly recommend reading them.

      IPICK is just an acronym to help students remember the things that a "good fit book" should have.

      I can choose my own book.
      Purpose - Why would I read this book?
      Interest - Does the content of this book interest me?
      Comprehend - Would I understand what's happening in this book?
      Know - Do I know most of the words in the book?

      Kids test the book by flipping to a page in the book and testing it against those questions. I introduce the concept by bringing in and showing the kids some books that don't fit me in each area and some that fit in some areas, but not all, and some that are good fits.


  4. Aren't you the sweetest! Favorite linky ever! ;-) I agree on Scholastic! My library is huge BECAUSE of them! I am a book hoarder. I'll admit it. Thanks for linking up! :)
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  5. Hi Nick,

    We use IPICK too. My kids always get a kick out of the mini lesson on interest when I pretend to read manuals and huge biology type books for fun. Your library looks HUGE! Bet your kiddos love it!


  6. I love Scholastic Points, way better than having to pick one at the end of my phone order - I never would calculate my order and would have to scramble to select a book for the right dollar amount. I find storage of books a big problem and have slowed down a bit on buying books. I usually have between 50-80 books from the public library in my class at all times. I have racked up some late/lost fines but it works for me. Welcome to the wonderful world of 3/4!!

  7. I have this horrible problem of being a total sucker and buying EVERY new book in a series that the kids want to read. I just can't wait for the media center to stock them. I also offer rewards for students that donate "quality" books to our classroom library. I have four large bookcases full of "big" kids books and the top of my storage closet is full of all my "little" kids books. I hate to part with them I go ever go back to little kids. Sometimes I become overwhelmed by the organizing my books when I switch grade levels every year. I don't necessarily want third graders reading books that are more appropriate for fifth graders. I also worry because teaching TAG, I often have kids that are reading at a MUCH higher level, but I have to watch the content in some of the fiction books. I LOVE BOOKS...and I love that you have so many also!
    P.S. Does your school do a competition with Box Tops like mine does. It gets pretty fierce!
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  8. OMg so agree with you on Scholastic and book libraries! I am the only one I know on my grade level (3 other teachers) at this school and 3 other at previous school so for 4 years I was the only one in my direction circle who had a substantial book library and ordered from Scholastic.

    Maybe it is because I am single and I AM OBSESSED with books but it is sad when students have to go to the school library to get books to read. How can they see what choices are out their if you don't show them? So many of my books are new to students and they fall in love with it so then of course I just HAVE to get more in the series.

    One down side is that I have had several popular books stolen. I kind of view it that if they needed it that bad it is being used for good (I have been in schools with low income).

    In my area there is a store called Half Price Books that I find tons of deals and books the kids love! Ebay also has some good deals on groups of books (I bought some low level readers from here when was in 2nd grade).


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