Have you ever had your students set up your classroom library? I know, it was a scary thought for me too. Then I realized that it would be a great learning experience! My students do a genre sort activity during the first week of school.
While the students are out of the classroom (recess, specials, etc.), I place mixed piles of books on the desks. Then I place empty buckets with genre posters around the room. I love these posters from Ginger Snaps because they have a written description, as well as picture clues.
When the students come back, they are instructed to organize the classroom library! It becomes their job to take each book and place it in the bin that they it belongs in. I pretty much set them free at this point and step back to observe. Students are allowed to talk and discuss with their peers as they make their decisions. They are allowed to move books out of one bin and into another, if they think it belongs somewhere else.
As they are working, I take mental (or even written) notes on not only how well students understand genre, but which students are really participating and who is initiating discussions. It gives me quick, but in-depth look at my students as learners.
The amount of time that I give them to complete this activity varies each year depending on my class. I keep a close eye on my students and wrap it up as their interest and involvement starts to fade.
We close the activity with a discussion. I start by asking questions:
– Was this task easy or difficult?
– What made it difficult?
– How could it have been easier?
– Did you move any books out of a bin?
– Did discussing your choices with your peers help you make a better decision?
– Is there any book that you thought was in the wrong bin? Why?
I then let my students guide the conversation and talk amongst themselves, with minimal guidance from me. Again, I make observations of each student as the discussion moves along.
This is one of my favorite activities to do at the beginning of the school year. Not only does it let me get to know my students, but it gives them a glimpse into our classroom library. It gives them a chance to browse all the book that they will have access to throughout the year. It also gives them ownership over the library, since they are the ones who have truly put it together.
Want to try this in your classroom? Feel free to pin the image below to share or save for later!