A disgruntled librarian packs it up and leaves fabulous New York City behind,
going on random adventures through South America,
while simultaneously promoting literacy
and spreading the love of the written word.

Monday, October 1, 2012

awesome library lessons

(subject headings: booksdewey decimal systemlibrary lessons)

oh my poor forsaken blog readers, how i have ignored you.  well, i won't apologize because i've actually been quite busy.

you see, at my lovely new school  all the teachers want to bring their students to the library.  it creates a huge amount of work for me.  when i was doing my observation hours at a school library in brooklyn, the librarian had to hound the teachers to bring their classes to the library, begging them to come in.  and in the 30 hours that i was there, i never saw one library lesson taught.  i have to say, it was rather boring.

so imagine my surprise when teachers are just knocking down my door (i don't actually have a door, but you get what i mean), knocking down my door to schedule library visits.  i actually do not have enough time in the day to schedule them all.  so needless to say, it's been chaotically busy trying to plan all these said lessons and then also do them.

you might be asking yourself, "self, i wonder what kinds of amazing clever craftiness miss dewey decimal has brought to south america?"  well, i will be happy to tell you.

so, our school has this curriculum which i need to follow and incorporate into all my lessons.  sometimes this is easy, and other times it doesn't quite fit and i find myself walking a strange sort of tight-rope between teaching the curriculum and being a librarian/teacher.   but as i go on i am realizing more and more that i must keep my identity as a librarian.  that is what i'm good at, after all.

so the first graders are doing a unit on how we express ourselves using art.  this was an easy fit, and i used it as an opportunity to talk about picture book illustrators.  first, we have been reading a different picture book each week, and talking about the illustrations.  at the end of the unit we are going to vote on which book has the best illustrations.  fun!

but then the other day i did a lesson on wordless picture books that turned out to be pretty awesome.  we looked at the book Sector 7 by David Wiesner, which tells the whimsical story of ... wait ... spoiler alert!  ok ... it tells the whimsical story of a boy who goes on a field trip to the Empire State Building and then is whisked off to a magical place where clouds are created and then wreaks havoc, blah blah blah, chaos ensues.  so we go through the story, discussing what we see on each page.  then when the story is over, i ask the students to tell me the story in order, so that we can write words for the book.  (as i said, it is a wordless picture book.  please pay attention to these sorts of details).  anyway, it turned out to be really cool.  and together we wrote an excellent version of Sector 7.

moving on ... then the second graders are doing a unit about organizational systems and processes.  mostly they are examining different processes, for example how a tree becomes paper or how milk becomes ice cream.  (i think i have mentioned my love of this video from Mr. Rogers about how crayons are made)

anyway, i took this opportunity to try to explain how we organize things in the library.  i have noticed that the children have a rough time finding things in the library.

first we learned about fiction and how we organize fiction by the authors last name.  so i put sticky notes on the children with the first three letters of their last name, and asked them to put themselves in alphabetical order. they were pretty good at that, but then i gave them a little scavenger hunt to see if they could use alphabetical order to find 3 different picture books.  we had mixed results with that one.


then the next class i explained about how we use numbers to organize non-fiction (numbers=non-fiction!)  and then after going through what the different numbers mean, i gave them a challenge.  i gave them about 40 or 50 pictures that needed to be organized and glued onto a dewey decimal chart. now, i will admit that after i had committed to doing this lesson i quickly began to doubt the ability of 2nd graders to accomplish this task.  it's pretty hard, no?  but i was amazed, AMAZED, that they were able to do it.  and within the time frame of a library lesson!  at one point we had a few pictures out of order and one child shouted out, "trains belong in 600!"

ah, it warms my heart.

and that is what has been going on here.