Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog!

Classic Post: Classroom Library Organization

Posted by Richard Giso on Oct 8, 2015 5:30:00 PM

Richard Giso 200This is a guest post by Richard Giso that originally ran in March 2014. Click here to see his other posts. You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Making the Most of Classroom Libraries

Greetings! It’s Rich Giso from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read, excited to be blogging about something both my college students and my teacher colleagues often seek my advice on. Setting up a classroom library can be a very daunting task, as there are so many questions to consider. How much space do I have? How should I categorize my books? Should I have certain books leveled? Where do I put those special readalouds I do every year? What makes the best storage? What kinds of print, other than books, should I include?

I’m hoping to offer you some pointers by sharing with you my classroom library via photographs. Keep in mind, however, that I’m in my sixteenth year of teaching, meaning that I have a vast collection of reading material available to my young readers that I have accumulated through the years. Start small. Your collection will grow from year to year with the help of yard sales, retiring teachers, eBay, bonus points from book orders, grant proposals, parent donations, etc.

Giso-8-1As far as book storage goes, I use a combination of dish washing tubs and plastic/metal coolers used to store ice in order to keep drinks cool. My tubs are all orange and blue so that they match my classroom theme. This serves to make things look both organized and uniform. ALL books should be stored with the covers facing out towards the reader. This is important for book browsing.

Notice how I have a combination of books sorted by level and by topic. This is really important. My young readers need to be picking from the right book level in order for them to grow stronger as readers. I give them a range of books to select from (a tub that is easy, one that is just right and one that is a little challenging). My mature readers have more freedom when selecting books, because they are more experienced in picking books that are a good fit for their interest and reading ability.

In addition to sorting books by levels, I have many categories that highlight Caldecott awards, poetry, science and mathematics books, wordless books, books on America, legends, fables and fairy tales, books from different cultures, wordless books, alphabet books, biographies and books about history.

I also have these shelves I turned on their sides to serve as benches. This is a perfect area for buddy reading.

Giso-8-3

For those special books—ones that I use on the holidays, ones that teach topics such as parts of speech, punctuation, etc. and my special readalouds, I utilize a shelf out of reach so that they are always there when I need them.

I have special spinning shelves for books arranged according to my favorite authors (Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Jan Brett, Bill Martin Jr., etc.). Periodically, I move them to a display that includes lots of photographs and biographic tidbits about our featured author. We are currently studying Patrica Polacco.

I have a number of informational texts and periodicals for kids as well as pamphlets, travel brochures and menus for them to browse. These have special places in my library too.

Giso-8-6Giso-8-7

For topics that we are studying, I pull out books and feature them as well. Here you see a Gail Gibbons collection because we are writing teaching books. In social studies we are studying American symbols, so I have those books on display.

Giso-8-8

In addition to these pictures, I store my dictionaries in my writing center and have a wire wrack display that showcases my holiday/seasonal books that changes on a regular basis. To store multiple copies of the same book, I have a guided reading cart on wheels so that they are easily accessible.

I’m pleased to offer you a “tour” of my library. It’s the heart of every classroom, so it’s work giving it some attention! Happy reading!

~~~

I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

~~~

To download a brochure on our pre-packaged Classroom Libraries, click the image below!

Classroom Library Brochure

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Topics: Classroom Libraries, Richard Giso, K-2 Literacy, Classroom Organization

Literacy Tip: Puzzle Piece Match-Ups

Posted by Richard Giso on Apr 11, 2014 11:02:00 AM

Richard Giso 200This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog. Click here to see his earlier posts, and check back here on our Classroom Literacy blog frequently to see if he's got a new post up! You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Hello again, It’s Rich from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read. I’m back with another idea to add to your “literacy toolbox.” As always, this tip it teacher tested and approved by yours truly.

Are you looking for an easy way to reinforce a feature of informational text and boost your readers’ comprehension? Try this activity. You will need a nonfiction reader (with an index in the back), a scissors, a writing tool, and some index cards.

This project is a terrific follow up after a guided reading lesson. Begin by referring readers back to the index. Have them select a certain number of key topics listed in the index. I use many titles from the Download series for this. They are perfect for my advanced second-grade readers. Even my most reluctant readers gravitate towards these titles in my library.

Divide index cards in half. I like to get a little creative so that they resemble puzzle pieces. See these examples below. They have some key words from an index on them.

Giso_9-2

Using the book’s index, readers look up a set number of key words or phrases and put together a sentence or two that defines them. The index will help your readers navigate through the text. In this example below, my reader today put on one side the term “hedgehog” (listed in the index) with the phrase “eats at night” (evidence from the text).

Giso_9-3

Repeat this for many index cards. Then, have students cut the pieces and place them in a bag. For follow up, have readers swap books and bags of puzzle pieces. Partners reassemble the index card halves as they read to monitor their comprehension of the text. With spring in the air, I developed this strategy to keep my readers motivated and attentive to important terms while reading. Have fun with this literacy tip.

~~~

I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

~~~

For more information on the Download series, which was used in this activity, click here to visit our website, or click the series highlights image below to download an information sheet with key features.

Download Series Highlights

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Topics: Richard Giso, Informational Text, Download, Reluctant Readers

Classroom Library Organization

Posted by Richard Giso on Mar 21, 2014 10:45:00 AM

Richard Giso 200This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog. Click here to see his earlier posts, and check back here on our Classroom Literacy blog frequently to see if he's got a new post up! You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

Making the Most of Classroom Libraries

Greetings! It’s Rich Giso from Mr. Giso’s Room to Read, excited to be blogging about something both my college students and my teacher colleagues often seek my advice on. Setting up a classroom library can be a very daunting task, as there are so many questions to consider. How much space do I have? How should I categorize my books? Should I have certain books leveled? Where do I put those special readalouds I do every year? What makes the best storage? What kinds of print, other than books, should I include? I’m hoping to offer you some pointers by sharing with you my classroom library via photographs. Keep in mind, however, that I’m in my sixteenth year of teaching, meaning that I have a vast collection of reading material available to my young readers that I have accumulated through the years. Start small. Your collection will grow from year to year with the help of yard sales, retiring teachers, eBay, bonus points from book orders, grant proposals, parent donations, etc.

Giso-8-1As far as book storage goes, I use a combination of dish washing tubs and plastic/metal coolers used to store ice in order to keep drinks cool. My tubs are all orange and blue so that they match my classroom theme. This serves to make things look both organized and uniform. ALL books should be stored with the covers facing out towards the reader. This is important for book browsing. Notice how I have a combination of books sorted by level and by topic. This is really important. My young readers need to be picking from the right book level in order for them to grow stronger as readers. I give them a range of books to select from (a tub that is easy, one that is just right and one that is a little challenging). My mature readers have more freedom when selecting books, because they are more experienced in picking books that are a good fit for their interest and reading ability.

In addition to sorting books by levels, I have many categories that highlight Caldecott awards, poetry, science and mathematics books, wordless books, books on America, legends, fables and fairy tales, books from different cultures, wordless books, alphabet books, biographies and books about history.

I also have these shelves I turned on their sides to serve as benches. This is a perfect area for buddy reading.

Giso-8-3

For those special books—ones that I use on the holidays, ones that teach topics such as parts of speech, punctuation, etc. and my special readalouds, I utilize a shelf out of reach so that they are always there when I need them.

I have special spinning shelves for books arranged according to my favorite authors (Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Jan Brett, Bill Martin Jr., etc.). Periodically, I move them to a display that includes lots of photographs and biographic tidbits about our featured author. We are currently studying Patrica Polacco.

I have a number of informational texts and periodicals for kids as well as pamphlets, travel brochures and menus for them to browse. These have special places in my library too.

Giso-8-6Giso-8-7

For topics that we are studying, I pull out books and feature them as well. Here you see a Gail Gibbons collection because we are writing teaching books. In social studies we are studying American symbols, so I have those books on display.

Giso-8-8

In addition to these pictures, I store my dictionaries in my writing center and have a wire wrack display that showcases my holiday/seasonal books that changes on a regular basis. To store multiple copies of the same book, I have a guided reading cart on wheels so that they are easily accessible.

I’m pleased to offer you a “tour” of my library. It’s the heart of every classroom, so it’s work giving it some attention! Happy reading!

~~~

I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

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Topics: Classroom Libraries, Richard Giso, K-2 Literacy, Classroom Organization

Classroom Organization Tips with Richard Giso

Posted by Richard Giso on Nov 6, 2013 8:00:00 AM

This is a guest post by Richard Giso, an occasional contributor to our blog. Click here to see his earlier posts, and check back here on our Classroom Literacy blog frequently to see if he's got a new post up! You could also check out his blog, called Mr. Giso's Room to Read, in which he writes about fun classroom activities, behavior management, and classroom management.

After fifteen years in the same school, I began this summer packing and unpacking due to my decision to change schools. Once the city movers unloaded all my things, this photograph shows my classroom after a week of unpacking. YIKES! After days, it appeared as if I had not accomplished a thing.

Giso 3 1 250 

Now that the move is behind me, I’m pleased to be able to share some organizational tips with you in this guest blog post. To begin with, an organized classroom library is essential to foster a love of literacy. Here you see a number of blue and orange tubs. These are actually coolers—the kind intended to fill with ice and cold drinks during a hot summer day. They double as sturdy book bins.

Giso 3 2 250

I’m always looking for ways to store things. Here you see some orange buckets. They are perfect for holding reading pointers, phonics phones, etc.

Giso 3 3 250

Teachers often ask me how I am able to store so many things in my classroom. The answer is that I put bins in high spaces. Here you see clear and colored tubs. In these, I place items that I don’t use on a regular basis, such as fabric, scraps, extra sentence strips, yarn, etc. Over the sink, I store my stickers in photo boxes—one for each month.

Giso 3 4 250

A great way to make things look neat and organized is to purchase shoeboxes. They are relatively inexpensive, so you can buy them in great quantity. As you can see, rows of the same container look more uniform and tidy. What you don’t want to be seen, cover with fabric and tension rods. You don’t even need to know how to sew—just use a glue gun.

Giso 3 5 250

Another favorite way I keep things organized is by using hardware holders. This handy-dandy organizer is perfect for keeping tiny things in their places. I use it for my student banks (a form of positive rewards), magnetic letters, calendar pieces, etc. I suggest that you always glue an item on the outside for easy ID. Oh, and—BONUS!—they are fairly inexpensive.

Giso 3 6 250

If you are like me, you have loads of posters and a lack of wall space, or should I say FREE wall space. To solve this problem, get a portable clothes-hanger rack. These are way sturdier, less bulky, and cost tons less money than a pocket chart stand. I use one to organize my charts for instruction. This way they are easily accessible. I can put one up using the hanger and do not need to fuss over tape. Easy up, easy down.

Giso 3 7 250

I hope you have gained an idea or two and are off to organize your classroom. As I always say, an organized classroom is a well-managed classroom.

~~~

Richard Giso 200I'm a proud teacher with over 15 years of teaching experience. I began my teaching career as a fourth grade teacher at the Bates Elementary School in Salem, Massachusetts. Since then, I have taught fourth grade for eight years. From there, I moved to a job as a reading coach under the Reading First grant. Having missed my true passion—having a classroom of my own—I returned to teaching as a first grade teacher for the next five years.

Now I've moved to the Carlton Innovation School, also in Salem, Massachusetts, where I am ready to begin my first year as a member of a team of four teachers that teach grades one and two. In addition, I teach undergraduate and graduate students at Salem State University. My courses involve literacy, children's literature, and elementary education. My educational interests include early literacy, effective reading interventions, and positive classroom climates.

~~~

GET FREE BOOKS IN EXCHANGE FOR YOUR CLASSROOM-TESTED IDEAS! We're always on the lookout for talented educators to come stand in our Teacher Spotlight and contribute guest blog posts! Do you want to add to your classroom library? Do you fancy yourself a writer? Do you have innovative ideas to share with the teaching community? Thousands of educators see our posts each week, and you might have the idea they've been waiting to hear! Each contributor gets to select a package of books that fits their classroom needs—from informational text to fairy tales, from letter learning to books for striving readers in the upper grades. To nominate yourself or another teacher, tell us a little more here.

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Topics: Richard Giso, Classroom Organization

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