Twenty-first-century learners need 21st-century research skills. In an effort to enhance student use at the library and incorporate more meaning and purpose into class library trips, I use the following ideas in my classroom.
Before our first trip to the library as a class, I discuss the following questions with my students:
Why do we have a library?
What are some of its uses?
What does the library look like?
This is a great time to explain the importance of books and the role they play in learning. Students should come up with a number of reasons to visit the library. All reasons are listed on chart paper and then connected to the purpose for our visit.
As a class, discuss what the library has to offer in relation to books, encyclopedias, and computers. This is also the time we spend talking about how a student should visit the library and what to do once when they arrive. We spend a great deal of time talking about how to navigate through the library as an independent learner.
I teach a lesson on library call numbers to help my students understand that books are strategically placed with good reason. We then practice this concept as a class while also building classroom community.
Here is where it gets serious. I try make our visit to the library a walk-through so the kids can see the many books and resources that are offered there. We talk about the call numbers and the location of the different genres of books. Our amazing librarian does an introductory lesson with my students on how to locate books in the library using their own devices. The kids are set!
We have open library times where students can come and check out books on their own. The golden ticket that they need to check out a book (it’s actually a blue or yellow pass based on if the child is a fourth or fifth grade student), is only given after they have created a book list.
A book list must contain four or five books that the student is interested in that they can check out at the library. The template created is designed to guide students in a number of ways. Their book list must include:
title of the book
Not only does this give students a responsibility and expectation that has to be met, it gives me the opportunity to check their book knowledge.
The initial book search begins on Scholastic’s Book Wizard. Once they create a list of books they are interested in (with at least two being nonfiction titles) they are allowed to search our school library checkout system to see what books are available.
Once the list has been approved, I award them with a student library checkout pass. It can only be used at designated times, which students must check on the classroom calendar.
It's important that students know how to use the library. Upper-grade students will soon reach the middle school where knowing how to look up books for personal use is an independent learning skill all on its own. The library checkout system is one of the many ways of putting student learning in their own hands.
How do you utilize library time at your school? I’d love to hear your feedback!