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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Top Teachers' Blog Swap - Guest post by Fern Smith

 Beware, It Is Not Too Pretty!
This blog post is not for those of you that are looking for a cute, artsy, adorable way to label your AR Books! Run now and run fast if you are looking for thematic, high graphic stickers! :)
So, I'm teasing you, but I've been around the block a time or two and let's face it, our classroom libraries will never look as adorable as what we see on OTHER TEACHER'S BLOGS!!! 
Oh yeah, you know what I mean, some teachers have made entire Pinterest Boards with all sorts of cute "Teacher Library" pictures! But, I'm going to let you in on a secret, I bet their kids never get to use many of those classroom library books!
There Are Lovers of Books and 
There Are Keepers of Books.
I am a ♥lover♥ of books!
I have no desire to hoard books, or to be a "Keeper of Books." I want my students to love reading so much that they can't wait to get their hands on more and more books. I have left teaching a few times ~ twice to be a stay at home mom and once to go to real estate school {stop laughing!} and every time I leave I GIVE everything away ~ I know, DUH!! right?
So when I return to the classroom this year I had to start all over again. I've built a nice classroom library from garage sales and the Friends of the Library big sales. But this year I only taught Math and Science, so I didn't really need to spend time organizing the library. The books were just hanging out for the children who came to school early, while I watched them for morning duty.
I DO NOT do any difficult check out system for my library. 
Check out systems usually just exhaust the teachers and cause them more unneeded stress! :( If a book is too expensive, don't put it in your library.
I let every child take 2 books home each night. I tell them, over and over again, "I trust you. Just tell me the truth if something happens to it." It helps to build a relationship between myself and the child, especially at lower income schools where many of them don't have a lot of trust in their lives anyway. I might have lost a book or two over the years, but if their lives are that sad that they need to steal my book, their lives are that sad that they are welcome to keep my book! That's why I get my books for a quarter to a dollar at the sales, nothing too expense that I will be upset if they don't return it! :)
This next school year we are going to be self-contained
 and I will be teaching Reading again!
So everyday after summer school I've been organizing my library to get ready. 
Here is how I label my books ~
I write my name, the AR level and the test number in Sharpie Marker on the front.
 There are a few reasons why I do this ~
1. Marker, unlike labels, can't be pulled off by a student. If they leave it in the Computer Lab or cafeteria, "Smith" gets it returned to my class or mailbox.
2. When a child takes an AR quiz, sometimes it takes them the entire Daily Five Center time to find the quiz if they are typing the title incorrectly. I teach them just to type in the test number.
In this picture it would be 87265, the number is fast and usually leaves less room for a mistake.
3. They can immediately know if it is their level. There is no color chart that they have to match with a sticker on the cover. There is no need to open the book to figure it out. They can also file the book away quickly when they are done by reading level because it is right on the front.
4. Student helpers can also clean up and organize the library quickly with the number right on the front!

On my class web site {which needs some serious work}I have the AR BookFinder Widget so I can find the information out quickly about a new book I bring to the classroom.
 Here is what it looks like...
AR BookFinder
 And here is the code if you would like to put it on your site.

I also like this because the parents and students can use it at home to find a book level!
This is what the results look like...
 If it is not an AR book, here is another site that will help you will leveling books.

 Book Wizard
So if you are organizing your books this summer,
I hope a little of this info might have helped! :)
If you haven't read it yet, here is how I organize my read alouds!

I'd like to thank my bloggy buddy Fern for a terrific post! She is TOADally Awesome! Make sure you check out her blog.  We are participating in a terrific Top Teacher Blog Swap & Hop! 


  1. I've got to get that book Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers. I love Laura Numeroff but I've never seen that book before. THanks, Fern!
    First Grade Found Me

  2. I have that book Dogs Don't Wear Sneakers! Book Wizard is a good tool to use. Thanks for the info!
    Conversations in Literacy

  3. Thanks for sharing how you organize your books. I am always looking for how to improve my organization.

    Grade School Giggles

  4. This is such a great AR tool!
    I am your newest follower! I am excited to see more of your great ideas. I just started blogging myself.
    Fancy Free in Fourth
    Take Care!

  5. Loving this blog hop. I'm finding lots of new friends! :) I'm your newest follower. I have a frog themed blog also.

    2nd Grade Pad