Friday, March 8, 2013

Dude, Where's My Book?

I'm not even kidding you.... this was the actual title of my classroom newsletter this past week.  I don't know about you, but it seems like routines and expectations from the beginning of the year drop-off for some families around this time every year (I know MY family has to refocus our efforts on a monthly basis). 

At the start of the year, each student gets a take-home binder that hold all of the important communication items. Think FROG, BEE, MOOSE, and a bunch of other acronyms that mean: this stuff needs to come back and forth EVERY day. In one of the plastic pouches, I allow students to borrow a "just right" leveled book to read at home. Many families do not have leveled books in their home or access to a public library that has lower levels. As the multiple labels in the binder, books, and notes indicate..... books are to come back to school every day. Ummm.... not so much any more. Many have been lost, left and are otherwise un-located. This drives me nuts. Not just a little, but down-right chapped! I get it. Things happen. Even my own son has needed to pay the school for a lost library book. (Notice I made my son pay for it, as I was not the one reading it on the way to baseball.)

This was my note (I was very careful to be nice and encouraging):

Each day, your child has the opportunity to borrow a classroom book to practice reading at home.  However, many of our books are missing and/or not being returned to our classroom in the FROG binder.  Although I believe in sending books home with students at their level, I also must be a good steward of our school (and my personal) resources.  Each book costs about $5 each.  A majority of them are only available to be purchased through school supply manufacturers.  If each child in our room lost (or failed to return) just one book, that would be a loss of over $100 in books this year.  Currently, I only allow students to get an new book if they bring one back that day.  This isn’t working, as I’ve noticed that many students just are not bringing them back.  I encourage you to help your child find any missing books and return them to school EVERY DAY so we can continue this program.  Thank you for you support!

Not too bad, right?  That was until only 10 out of my 21 students brought back a book the next day.  Ouch!  I resent my message in an email and retrieved 3 more.  (Insert sad face here!).  I collected all of the books and explained to my students the issue.  They were generally saddened by these developments.  I decided that a formal check-out process was needed, so I went to the Apple App Store and found this:

Book Retriever - This app allows you to scan, level and inventory your entire classroom library. Leveling choices include Guided Reading Levels, Lexile, Accelerated Reader, Reading Counts, DRA and Reading Recovery.  SHUT UP!  Downloaded... check!!  Classroom library? I could do this with my own collection! :)

I wanted to like this.... I DID!  It is so cool- in theory.  However, after spending all of my lunch and prep time Tuesday entering in books, I noticed that they only had about half of my library on file and I only got through about 100 of them (you can scan the bar codes and it will pull up the selection).  If the book is not in their system, you will need to manually enter it in.  They are adding to it every day, but it was just too time consuming for me.  I'd rather have the few parent helpers that I have working with students, not organizing and cataloging books.

My next plan is to go old-school on my sweeties.  That's right... library pockets with cards inside.  When a child takes the book, the will place the book's card into the designated pocket (with their name on it).  When/if it returns, the card goes back in the book.  This clearly isn't earth-shattering or new.  My teaching partner does it this way and even our staff uses this method for the leveled book room.

I ordered the book pockets from Amazon because they were less expensive (than the cute teacher- supply style). 

Plain Back Book Pockets - Economy Extra Low Back - No Date Grid - 3-1/4" H x 3-1/2" W x 2-1/2" D - 500pk
500 pockets for $21.95 at
   I will just use regular 3X5 cards with the book title on it for the card.

Here are some photos of my new set-up:

I really think with more accountability, books will not grow legs as often.  I'm always open to suggestions.  What works for you?  Do your students borrow books from you?  Leave me a comment and let me know.  I may just use your suggestion next year :)

1 comment:

  1. I discovered you via Pinterest (classic, right?) and have been exploring your blog for probably an hour now. Just a normal Friday night for a teacher! :)
    I have been teaching first grade as a long-term sub since February and will be in this class till the end of the year. Yay! I love my firsties.
    I wanted to let you know what this teacher does: She has book bags that she sends the leveled book home in along with a reading log and rewards chart. The parents fill out the book read, circle "frustrated, good, or easy" and write any comments. When the student returns it, I put a star on the reading log, a smiley face in one of the boxes on the rewards chart, and then trade for a new book. Once the student fills up a row of smiley faces, they get to go to the treasure box. Parents have been very supportive and offer to fill the treasure box with little prizes.
    I think it has been very motivating for them to not only read consistently, but also to bring the books back so they can get their prize. It's a bit more time-consuming, but we also only do it for the kids who are below-reading level for this point in the year. As long as I've been here, every book has been returned!
    Hope your new system helps solve your problem. Thanks for all of the great posts! I am planning on subscribing. Gotta support a fellow Michigander, blogger, and teacher!