As I mentioned earlier, I have been pondering a Dewey Alternative system since attending AASL. The more I thought about it, the more sense it seemed to make, but where to start? I didn't want to abandon Dewey wholesale, but Metis didn't satisfy me, and so I kept pondering.
And then, one of my fabulous fellow Massachusetts librarians, Halley at Dartmouth High, gave a presentation to MSLA, the state library association, about her new, hybrid Dewey system. Halley had worked to develop real-language descriptors that fit her library, but kept the numerical organization of Dewey intact.
That's when I knew I had my solution. Halley has been extremely gracious in answering questions and sharing her classification guide with me, and today, I began taking the first baby steps into the brave new world of Dewey hybridization. I'm starting small, and in pieces (trying to minimize disruption to active areas of the collection and confusing my volunteers even more), and it's definitely time consuming, but the more I think about how this is going to translate into reality, the more excited I get.
My first section is HIST - WORLD WAR II - HOLOCAUST. I elected to not do a WAR modifier in front of WWII because I want to keep it to three descriptors, and we have a large Colonial America project that happens, so I wanted those labels to read HIST - COLONIAL AMERICA - SUBCAT. And it's great, because just this morning I wound up pulling together books not just from the 940s, but also from the 800s. Eventually, I'll also pull in fiction and even picture books, as well as biographies, that relate. And then they'll all be in one place, to allow for easy topic correlation. It's a take on Metis' "Imagination" and "Ideas" interfiling, but with my own twist.
If you're curious to see my thought process, you can follow along on my Trello board. I think this is going to be really, really great.
My student learning goal for the year is to build an awareness of how different books are categorized in the library with my 3rd and 4th grade students. So, by the end of the year, I hope that 80% of them realize that non-fiction is categorized by number, that Dewey is the organizing principle behind those numbers, and that fiction and biography have other call numbers and are arranged differently.
On a more personal note, since beginning work at my new school, I've started to look at the library through the lens of accessibility, and the sad truth is, many parts of it are not accessible. There are whole shelves in non-fiction that are too high for me (a 5'0 tall adult) to comfortably see - how can I expect kids to browse there? There's also the question of finding space for new books, because some sections (plants, I'm looking at you) are bulging at the seams. The non-fiction collection is also split into three different parts of the library, and the back portion (700-900) are dark and unappealing. So, I'm on a mission to make the library more user-friendly however I can. Part of that is weeding (we've gotten almost 2000 books off the shelves already, and I've got more to go), part of that will be reorganizing the space, and part of that is categorizing materials.
Plans are already underfoot to classify the fiction section by genre - alphabetization will still be present, but now the primary method of finding books will be genre, then author's last name. Yet, one of the things I discovered last weekend at AASL is that there is a raging debate going on over Dewey and its continued relevance (or irrelevance) to meeting the needs of school libraries and students.
I don't believe that Dewey is wholly irrelevant, and I'm not willing to (at the moment) adopt a self-created or minimally used alternative classification before seeing where everything pans out, but I did get to thinking about how the principles behind Dewey alternatives like Metis are worthwhile in terms of making information more easily accessible. Then I started thinking about how frustrating it is when kids ask for picture books on particular topics: princesses, ghosts, etc. So, I think I have a plan brewing in my mind. I am going to write a proposal to develop a subject classification system for our picture book collection (roughly 3000 books - no small task) with a focus on broad categories and some major subtopics and then redo them. Hopefully this will make books easier to find in the long-run, especially for my youngest, pre-literate students.
It feels like I've been here for days and days instead of just two, but I suppose that's what happens when you attend every concurrent session (minus one) - that's a lot of learning, a lot of ideas, a lot of inspiration.
I now have a great list of high quality non-fiction to purchase for the library.
I have a sense of where to begin constructing lessons and a curriculum to teach internet safety to my K-4s.
I am going to start taking baby steps into genre-fying the fiction section of the library.
I am going to continue weeding with a purpose. Yes, even the picture books.
I am going to start brainstorming how to truly transform the library into a learning commons that facilitates collaboration yet meets the needs of all the groups that use it.
I feel confident in my technology skills, realizing that 95% of the apps being talked about, I'm already using or know about.
I am going to challenge myself to come up with ideas that could be turned into presentations. It's a little daunting to think about, but I have to believe that I have things to teach others.
I am going to improve the signage of my NF section.
I am going to figure out when and how to run a graphic novel contest with my students and publish their books, celebrate their achievements, and make them feel proud.
But most of all? I'm going to keep doing what I'm already doing. Am I a perfect library teacher? Nope. Am I the best? Nope. But I'm learning, and I'm doing the best I can, and it turns out, the best I can is pretty darn good. And that feels awesome to realize.
Every time I get the chance to be around my fellow school library media specialists, I am blown away by what a creative, tech-savvy, collaborative bunch we are. It's barely the start of the first full day of concurrent sessions and I'm already filled to the bursting with great ideas I want to try implementing, collaboration I want to try and foster, and lessons I can teach. Please forgive the lack of coherence in this post - I'm mainly using it as a way to jot down my ideas and impressions before I get too overwhelmed with all the fantastic, incredible things I'm learning here.
It began yesterday with the IDEAxCHANGE, a poster session where librarians from around the country share their best practices and innovative programs. I met up with people I have tremendous respect for and have worked with in the past but I also saw some new faces and learned a great deal. I saw the library center trio, live and in the flesh, and got some great pointers from Mrs. Lodge on how she rotates her centers and how she incorporates a decent number of permanent stations, something I think I need to do just so that there's always something happening. I heard from a colleague of hers, Jenn Reed (who I think is fabulous) about an online pen-pal program she started with a teacher in Minnesota, and now I can't wait to explore some more connections through Skype and hopefully make some lasting connections. I think I want to target 2nd grade with that project. I learned about a librarian in New York who's running a peer writing mentor station in his library, which I LOVE because that's what I did in college, and I know first-hand how powerful an experience it can be. Now I want to run back to school on Monday and immediately sit down with the 7th/8th grade ELA teachers to discuss the possibility. A presentation on flipped instruction has me thinking that maybe we could also sit down and formulate an entirely online-based research skills course for them to do, complete with assessments to gauge their skills before they go on to high school. I'm also pondering using an idea I read in a Joyce Valenza article (link to come when I have time to go find it) about a teacher doing PD with her colleagues by creating badges that they earn for demonstrating proficiency in particular skills. I wonder if I could translate that over into working with my kids.
There was also an intriguing library that has done away with Dewey/FIC in its entirety and is now interfiling fiction and non-fiction. I think I want to try this but not for the whole library. It'll take a heck of a long time to figure it out, but I may wind up with a tri-organized library (blended, Dewey, fiction). There was also a great idea that I am definitely going to use for a graphic book challenge. Students wrote and illustrated their own stories, and then got to have them bound and put o
And then and then and then! The first session I went to was on 50 new and great NF titles for kids and how to teach using them. At the end, we all had to get up and pick books and each book had a task inside it. Our challenge was to come up with something that incorporated the book and a relevant activity that met the parameters on our card. Game.On.
This group of librarians presented an idea (thought of on the fly) to complement a book about animal predator relationships. They came up with a lesson that would have students read the book, then get assigned some predators. They would research the predators and then make a card game about them, a la Pokémon. Students would have to classify each predator in three categories based on what they're learned in their research and then battle their predators against each other. I.Love.This. My mind is reeling at the thoughts of what I could do with this - reading, teaching the kids how to use KidsInfobits, and maybe even a program to create their cards in. I'm going to do this lesson, I just don't know when.
Two years ago, I had the extraordinary good fortune to be granted a scholarship to attend the American Association of School Librarian's conference in Minneapolis. It was a whirlwind, heady, unbelievable experience, but at the same time, I had no idea what I was doing. I was a student, and while I was exposed to all sorts of issues, ideas and advice, it felt somewhat irrelevant because I had no professional space to call my own in which to put what I was learning to use.
Now, however, I am done with school, and more importantly, I have colleagues to collaborate with, students to teach, and a library space that is my own. I'm already making small changes here and there, but I'm really excited to have the chance to learn about all these new things and then do them. Adapt them, modify them, test them out. It's a heady feeling.
I will attempt to blog each day of the conference so that I capture my ideas here, and hopefully I'll also find some time to talk about some of the things I've accomplished thus far at new school, because I'm really proud of what I have done in so short a time (but there's also things I could be doing better - see: library centers).
For now though, I must pack, sleep, and head off to the IDEAxCHANGE, one of the very best parts of AASL, where librarians from across the country (including Mrs. Lodge and Cari Young) will do poster sessions of their best program ideas. So excited!
My name is Ms. Bery. I am a PK-8 library media specialist in the Boston area. In addition to being a certified school librarian, I am also certified in instructional technology, and have a strong interest in exploring and integrating technology in new and exciting ways in the classroom.
I am also a 2016 PBS LearningMedia Local Digital Innovator, and a 2015 recipient of the Massachusetts School Library Association's President's Award.
Check out the Sandbox for apps and websites I've found useful in supporting student learning and creativity. I also (very occasionally) review children's and young adult literature on my book reviews page.
Other Library Blogs
The Centered School Librarian
Mrs. Lodge's Library
Trust Me, I'm a Librarian
The Librarian in the Middle
Thinking Outside the Library Box
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