Thursday, December 05, 2013

Thankful For the Public Library!

The first thing you notice when you walk into my room is the books -- six shelves there (with tubs across the tops of all of them), a homemade cinderblock and plank shelf there, two tall ones there, two short ones under the chalk tray there, the one behind the small table that serves as my desk...books are everywhere.

And yet, as I worked on the details of how I would approach the nonfiction unit we were set to start this week, the details about what other kinds of learning I was going to aim for beyond the standards that guided our planning, I realized I didn't have enough nonfiction books.

Praise be for the ability to place reserves online!

Praise be for TWO library cards -- a citizen card plus an educator card!

I have 17 different volumes in the Scientists in the Field series checked out. I want to explore with my students what kind of stamina it takes to read longer nonfiction. (No, these aren't the only longer nonfiction choices they'll have, but what a great place to start, eh?)

I have 22 books by Steve Jenkins checked out. These books support a range of readers. And they are already noticing what I hoped they would -- the very narrow and creative topic choices Jenkins makes. I want him to be a mentor for their topic selection when we get deeper into the writing portion of this unit.

I have 9 books by Don Brown checked out (this is his newest ...with a name like Don Brown, it's hard to do an author search on Amazon!). He's coming to the Dublin Literacy Conference in February! He writes more literary nonfiction, without the internal text features we often see in nonfiction and with more of a story arc as the structure. He has great "stepping stone" books that might get a reader interested in a topic that they will explore further. This is another sub-goal I have for this nonfiction unit.

(If it feels like I'm stopping this post without fully explaining everything -- like I did with my word study choice time post yesterday -- blame #nerdlution. This is my 30 minutes to write and if I don't stop now, I won't get showered and a lunch made and to school on time! At least this one is better edited than yesterday's [I hope]. I'm planning to update the word study choice post with information that answers some of the questions in the comments. What else are you wondering about our nonfiction study?)


  1. I love the Cincinnati Public Library! They have a fabulous teacher website where you can reserve 50 books at a time, and they'll collect them for you! I've used them for picture book units, multiple copies of novels for genre/theme topic units, etc. As much as I love to buy books, I couldn't teach the way I do without my public library! Great post, and I'm very impressed you got your #nerdlutions in already this morning. :-)

  2. I always love your book reviews, but I am also totally loving these reflections on your teaching. And I don't really care if they are totally finished (there can always be a Part Two) or if they are totally edited (perfection is highly overrated). With two kids in college, I couldn't live without the Denver Public Library!

    I love, love, love COLORADO author and illustrator, Steve Jenkins! A perfect mentor for kids! If you need biographies, there are some really great nonfiction picture book biographies, everything from scientists to civil rights folks to sports figures on the CYBILS nonfiction list this year!

  3. First, I don't think your post yesterday (or today) was poorly edited - just left me wanting more! How I wish your classroom was down the hall from mine. I'd want to hang out after school and just pick your brain for ideas.
    Regarding non-fiction, I'm set to do a unit at the start of the year. How long do you usually give them for the unit? Do you coincide it with a unit on non-fiction writing? I'm thinking of doing a small research unit at the same time in writing workshop, but still in the planning stages right now. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love how generous you are with your sharing, Mary Lee and all you fit in. I am with Katherine and I would want to be one of your students, too. What I really want is to come to the Dublin Literacy Conference. It sounds wonderful, just like last year!
    Janet F.

  5. I LOVE online reserves. There is nothing better than "shopping" and then just picking up your pile. Love it. Good luck on your unit. I must check out Don Brown before I come in February!


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