April 9, 2013

Teacher Tip Tuesday: Classroom Organizer

Today's Teacher Tip was shared with me at a department meeting a few months ago, and I cannot say enough good things about it! The Classroom Organizer has turned into my favorite teaching app and website.

Since the day I applied to grad school, I've been working hard to build and maintain an engaging classroom library for my students. This year proved to be a bit of a challenge for my existing library because my current students have such different interests and reading levels. I guess this just explains why my work here will never be done. It's a good thing I enjoy it!

Some of the challenges I've faced with managing my library have been:

  • Keeping track of my inventory. Every time I hit a book sale, I find myself racking my brain, trying to remember if I have copies of these books, and if so, how many? (You may recall that I like to have four copies of various books for book clubs.)
  • Remembering who is reading which book. Or who read it last (and destroyed the cover!). 
  • Where to find the book on my shelves. I'll be completely honest here, and let you know that I've never even attempted to have an organization system for my classroom library. I know that sounds crazy for me since I'm such a control freak, but with as many as 90 students a day in and out of the library, it was a battle I let go before it ever began. 
Here's where Classroom Organizer can come to the rescue. The website and apps (on my iPhone and iPad) allow me to:
  • Import books into my digital library by scanning the barcode (or searching the title).  It even lets you add a location, so you know where to find/return each title if you choose to use that function. (I can use the app to check my existing inventory when shopping... it's been a lifesaver!)
  • Import my student rosters from an Excel spreadsheet. (Very efficient!)
  • Check out and return books to specific students using the barcode scanner. (Fun and easy!) 
  • Check the reading history of a specific student. (I find this helpful during reading workshop time or when I'm trying to help a student select a new title.)
  • Check the reading history of a specific title. (This has helped me see which titles would benefit from more copies during my next trip to the Scholastic Warehouse Sale.)
My eighth graders love to use the app on my iPad. I swear it has increased the amount of activity in my classroom library. They all want to use the barcode scanners to check out and return books. For those of you with classroom jobs, the librarian will be your most coveted position!

Oh, and the best part about this site? It's free!!!

Be sure to check out my Teacher Tips page for my past Tuesday Tips!

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