I mentioned a couple of months ago that one of the things I want to build is a classroom library. Unfortunately, I don't have an unlimited supply of funds with which to purchase books, or a complete library checkout system with which to track the thousands of books I'd love to have lining the walls of my room.
My students were pretty sad about the lack of books available:
While the post I linked above includes some tips for building my library, most of the ideas didn't pan out for me, at this time. My library hasn't offered any sales, requesting donations from students or Donor's Choose requires paperwork and approval from my school, and I just haven't made it to Craig's List (yet).
Just last week, I discovered a way to quickly build my classroom library.
The Teacher Store in Oklahoma City
One of the other Literature teachers at my school mentioned that she was going to The Teacher Store in Oklahoma City. I have gone a couple of times in the past, but most of the store seemed to be devoted to random office supplies, some of which I had no use for. However, this time I heard from various sources that the store had a much larger selection of books than in the past, so (I admit) I invited myself along.
The next thing I knew, two other teachers were going, and we'd secured a school vehicle to make the trip. Wow!
The Store's warehouse has shelves stacked with new, hardback books in mint condition. My colleagues and I filled up two carts as much as we could, and we ended up with more than 400 pounds of books, including stacks for my room, the other teacher's room, and the library.
Needless to say, if you can possible go, you must!
If you're not sure if your district is signed up, check out The Teacher Store website, which includes a list of school districts that are already signed up. If your district is on the list, you can go, once per month, on the days your district listed for.
The next day, I had two students bring my boxes of books to my room from the office, and then half the class volunteered to label the books for me and shelve them. As my volunteers unpacked the books, the class ooh'd and ahh'd over titles by Stephanie Meyer, James Patterson, Rick Riordan, and P.C. Cast + Kristen Cast. They were all definitely engaged! I ended up picking three students to reduce the chaos, and then let everyone have a chance to pick a book to read.
You can see my volunteers here:
Classroom Library Checkout
After everyone had a chance to peruse the books available, they all had one question: Can we check these out?
So far, I have told my students that I can't check anything out because I don't have a system setup. But not having a system kind of defeats the purpose of having a classroom library. So I did a quick search for possible applications that I can download to my phone and manage the checkouts (Because, if anything can be done, it'll be done better if you use some technology, right?)
I tried one app, and tested it with a student in fifth hour. It didn't work. So I looked some more (while my students were drooling over my books and engaging in free voluntary reading), and finally settled on Booksource's Classroom Organizer.
In order to get started, you need to sign up on the Booksource website. It's completely free.
First, you'll create a classroom ID, which is what you'll call your classroom library on the site. Mine is MrsWatersEnglish. Then you'll setup a classroom password, which you can make available to students if you want them to sign into the site themselves and view your student page. I'm not going to use that functionality though.
Next, you'll setup a password for your teacher page, where you can enter your student profiles. Here's the thing: If you're an elementary teacher and you have 20 or 30 kids, I recommend just entering them manually. If you're a secondary teacher though and have anywhere from 80 to 160 (or more) students, I recommend you download the Excel template and add your student details to it. Then upload the file to the Classroom Organizer website.
Once all your students are in the system, you're ready to download the iPhone or Android app on your phone.
After you've installed the version of the app you require, and sign in, you can start scanning your books. Yes, you read that right. The app uses your phone's camera to scan the ISBN code of the book, and store it in the Booksource database for your convenience.
When a student is ready to checkout, just scan the book, select the student and then click the checkout button. When a student is ready to return a book, you just repeat the procedure, but click return. As soon as you're done scanning, the Booksource website is updated with a list of books that are checked out and to whom.
By the end of the day Friday, I had checked out 26 books. You can't tell me that's not effective!
If you have any questions, just look at Booksource's Classroom Organizer FAQs, or watch their video tutorials.