Thursday, March 16, 2017

March 2017

Classroom Library

As an undergraduate, I remember designing a diorama of my future classroom. In my classroom, I envisioned walls of bookcases filled with books, comfortable seating, a rug for a meeting area, lamps, and desks arranged in groups of four. That's probably why I spent a small fortune on purchasing books for my classroom. On Saturdays, I shopped garage sales, resale shops, and Scholastic warehouse sales. At one point, I even raided my parent's house to take back the books from my childhood…thankfully they saved them. 

After I attended the Coaching Institute at the Teachers College in October and worked in classrooms while I was there, my awareness towards classroom libraries became heightened. The classrooms at PS 1 Alfred E. Smith Elementary had books EVERYWHERE. Students were surrounded by books (pictures included are from the 4th grade clasroom I taught in while I was in NY).

Reading Engagement

The International Literacy Association completed a global study examining the relationship between students' reading engagement and their academic success. It was measured by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) exam and grade point averages. This study concluded that "attitude toward reading, frequency of leisure reading, and diversity of reading materials" were crucial factors in reading achievement and measured by grade point averages (Brozo, Shiel, and Topping 2007, 311).

Does your classroom library offer diverse reading material? Are students able to see themselves in the books in your classroom? As you pack up for the summer and think about your supplies for next year, I challenge you to think about these questions. Would your students answer the same way?

According to Jennifer Serravallo (see chart below), students must be engaged with a text before they can tackle the more complicated work in reading. This begs another question, are the books in your classroom library current and on topics that interest students? I know classroom libraries are a costly upkeep, but we need to make sure we have current titles students want to read. Recently, I read/heard a teacher should lose 10% of their classroom library every year. If you are “losing” texts, then students are keeping your books. Is that a bad thing? I’m not sure about you, but I always thought it was my responsibility to help students to find that “ONE” book that made them become life-long readers...personally, I loved the challenge. If students are not engaged in reading, then they have not found “that book.”

How Many Books?

As you look at pictures on this blog post, you will notice the wealth of reading material available in this one classroom. When thinking about your classroom library, it helps to think about your readers (number of struggling readers, on level readers, above level readers) and the units you will teach across the year. Do you have enough books for ALL readers to read books with in the unit?

Now to the numbers. For this example, I want you to think about levels of texts your students read. Below is a chart (based on TCRWP & Jennifer Serravallo’ research) for how many books each reader needs a week. Do you have enough books?

Books I’ll Need for the Week
J, K
8 – 10 Books
L, M
4 – 6 Books
N, O, P, Q
2 – 4 Books
R, S, T
1 – 3 Books
U, V, W
1 – 3 Books

Bottom line, our students need access to books they want to read. How will you help your students find their love of reading?

Brozo, W., Shiel, G., & Topping, K. (2007). Engagement in reading: Lessons learned from three PISA countries. International Reading Association, 51, 304-315.
Goldberg, G. & Serravallo, J. (2007). Conferring with Readers: Supporting Each Student's Growth and Independence. Portsmouth, NH. Heinemann.