The project kicked off with all teachers participating in a pre-survey that asked questions about student engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm for reading. Teachers attended an after-school professional development session to learn about the research behind building knowledge and vocabulary about topics, and the effect on engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm. During this session teachers learned about how students can have many different reading levels, depending on their knowledge of the topic. Teachers were encouraged to offer students choice in what they were reading during independent reading time, rather than insisting that they read books only at their level.
As they began reorganizing their libraries, teachers asked students what topics they wanted to learn about. Some popular choices included: monster trucks, horses, weather, dinosaurs, and space. There were baskets that contained books in a series: Fly Guy, Magic Tree House, and the David books. One group of 1st grade readers was really excited about the Learn to Draw book basket.
Teachers collected observations, photos and quotes from their students during the course of the project.
"Just wanted to let you know that the library workstation went GREAT!!! The kids were so excited when they walked in and saw how different the library looked. They have been finishing their work quickly all day so they could get to the library during transition times.”
“Can we do this the whole time?” “Can I read this later?”
“I like the book boxes because then I can learn about different things.”
“ I like the boxes because they are in with “like” books instead of being scrambled about.”
“I like the book bins because I like to discover new topics.”
“I like the book bins because it doesn’t take that long to find a certain book.”
“It is good because I can find the books that I really like, like dinosaurs.”
I love this observation from a 1st grade classroom:
"I changed up some of my book baskets yesterday and I thought I would share a quote with you. HR came in this morning and was enjoying some free time in the library when he noticed that I had added a horse basket. He came running over, "There is a basket about horses, that’s what I asked for!" So funny, it was almost like Christmas morning and Santa had brought exactly what he wanted. I'm still not convinced he knows that it is me that is changing the library. Maybe a library fairy!"
Teachers involved in the project all noticed a positive impact on engagement, motivation, and enthusiasm for reading after reorganizing their libraries. More about the research behind book baskets and the survey results can be found here:
Reflections from a 1st grade teacher on the west coast about the project can be found here:
How is your classroom library organized?