Saturday, August 3, 2013

Nonfiction Treasure

I love The Last Word bookstore in Charlotte, NC. It has a wonderful selection of used children's books. They even take the time to organize them into categories. I was in there browsing a couple of weeks ago and I came across a beautiful stack of hardback nonfiction books about animals. Wait until you read what a fantastic find these were...

never read--the spines creak when you open them
crisp pages with bright photographs
each book is actually 2 complete books about 2 animals
each book is a Level O--perfect for 3rd grade
$1.50 per book
teacher discount makes them only $1.35 per book
$1.35 per book
$1.35 for an unused, hardback, nonfiction book
$1.35 for what is actually 2 books in one
$13.50 for 10 books about 26 animals

Each book begins with a quick fact box.

The table of contents is a list of questions about the animal. I do wish the questions began with capital letters though.

There is a student-friendly glossary at the end of each book.

Teacher Library

At the end of the school year in June, I cleared all of the shelves above the counter and sink in my classroom. I created piles of books that were related to the Lucy Calkins reading workshop themes. I pulled out my teacher resource books that I actually use--not the ones that have nine inches of dust on them! I created piles of my books that were subject-specific.
One shelf contains only teacher resource materials directly related to Balanced Literacy. Books that I have not looked at for years were posted and sold on Amazon or given to Goodwill.

One shelf houses all of the books for series book clubs. They are leveled and grouped in sets.

Another shelf contains mystery book club sets and single mysteries. I do not put these out in the classroom library until the mystery unit of study because if they have been out for months, then the students are not as excited to read them. Students get motivated to read books that are new to the library.

I labeled one shelf with books that are related to PBIS (our discipline system). It is important to use books in all areas of teaching, not just reading instruction. I only have a small collection of books for the social issues unit of study. This small stack of books is a great visual to remind me that I need to expand my collection of books for that unit. Now when the Literacy Facilitator at my school, or a parent, asks me what kinds of books I need I already know how to answer the question. I also put the materials for our writing program on this shelf. Being a Writer provides all of the actual books to use as anchors for the writing lessons, but I also have some of my own books that I add to the lessons.

I am a literacy teacher, but I still have great Math materials that I use with my students on rainy days when we can't go outside. This also will make it easy for me to share books with my Math teammates when they are looking for a literacy link in their lessons.
This is my nonfiction shelf. There are books with Social Studies links. There is a section of books that are nonfiction about animals since that is a huge writing unit for third grade. These are books that do not have Fountas and Pinnell levels, but still contain wonderful, grade level material. The final section is my collection of biographies. Just like mysteries, I do not put these books in the classroom library until we are studying that unit.

The final shelf holds books that support the beginning units of the year--Building a Reading Life and Characters into Meaning. It doesn't look like I have very many books for these two units, but I make sure I use strong literature for these two units--quality, not quantity.

Cut It Out!

This school year I will have two new teachers on my third grade team. They are veteran teachers, but they have not taught third grade. One important strategy I think they should use is being creative with the use of our Social Studies textbooks. We are lucky because our Social Studies textbooks are consumable. This means students can write in them, highlight, circle, underline, and most importantly...they can CUT THEM APART!
After reading a chapter in the Social Studies textbook, students may not be able to identify the three regions of North Carolina. They may not be able to describe characteristics of each region. If the students create a brochure of North Carolina by cutting out graphics and textboxes, they take ownership for their learning.
Students read about the topic, talked about the topic, wrote about the topic, drew illustrations about the topic. Some designed Thinking Maps. Others used boxes and bullets to state the main idea and supporting details. They read their brochures to each other. They took them home and read it to family members. They created an authentic product which helped them retain their knowledge.
A textbook does not have to be boring. You can make it fit into your Balanced Literacy framework.

Students who may not be confident artists can cut out photos and maps instead of being pressured to draw illustrations.

Students can be creative and display the information they learn in whatever style they choose.

Reluctant writers may decide to use bulleted phrases instead of paragraphs.

Students show that they can summarize text instead of copying directly from the textbook. This is a great opportunity for conferencing during Reading Workshop or Writing Workshop.

The box contains the main idea and the bullets list supporting details. What a great link between a nonfiction reading strategy and writing!