Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Where Did You Get That Book? #SOL17
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Slice of Life: Where Did You Get That Book? #SOL17


On Tuesday I wrote a post about “Slam Dunk” books.  I noticed that some of the comments mentioned the need to order these titles.  Even emails asking where we purchased them.  I failed to mention in my post that I don’t own those books.

As a staff developer or instructional coach, Tammy and I typically use books the school owns in our work.  While we love to share new titles and our favorites at some of our sessions, when it comes to demonstration lessons in classrooms we prefer to use books that are in the school.  It is part of the planning we do in our sessions.  Once we determine a focus for our collaboration, we often head to the bookroom to find some texts that will work nicely to model or facilitate the lesson.  We want to use the instructional tools available to the teachers.

When we design bookrooms, we include a section for mentor or read aloud texts.  These books are organized in baskets by topic, interest, author, genre, series and mood.  The slam dunk books I used in the demonstration lesson were in a nonfiction basket labeled animals.  When the bookroom is organized this way it easy to find what we need to match our instructional purpose as well as the interest of the students.


The teachers and I spent less than 5 minutes exploring the books and choosing some that might work.  We discussed each text and how we might use it to teach and connect to the students.  We wanted these students to understand that readers react and respond to nonfiction reading and we wanted it to be fun.  Animals Spit was just a slam dunk!  Since we used books in the bookroom teachers knew where they could find more books just like it.

We know time is tight in schools, but we also know the right book can make all the difference in our instruction and in the engagement of our readers.  We want each lesson to not only help them be more effective readers, we want it to inspire them to be lifelong readers.  When we organize our books with these goals in mind, it makes it so much easier to pull it off.



  • Avatar
    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 10:51h, 17 March Reply

    Clare, I love this piece – the importance of finding the right book for the right child – the one that helps him see himself as a reader. The idea of tempting children into choosing reading as an activity to do outside of school – to become a lifelong reader – that’s our ultimate goal. Time is such an issue that organizing a book room or classroom library so books can be easily located is important for both teachers and students. Thanks for a great post (my first) to start St. Patrick’s Day!

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    Fran McVeigh
    Posted at 10:51h, 17 March Reply

    Love this! I had already looked for the books on Amazon! I just wanted to “see inside them”.
    Yes, I, too, was going to order them.
    How could I not?
    You said they were slam dunk books!

    So smart to use the books from the book room and when well-organized it really is only 5 minutes to select. Great points!

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    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 11:14h, 17 March Reply

    The right book at the right time for the right purpose–
    Organization is key, of course. I really like how you and Tammy embrace the culture of the schools you work with and use what they have on hand in your collaborations. Working together–

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    Rose Cappelli
    Posted at 12:51h, 17 March Reply

    How smart you are to use the tools the teachers already have in your work with them. So many times I find teachers have tools right in front of them but they don’t realize how valuable they are or how to get the most from them. We need to help them search their own book collections with new eyes.

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    Lisa C
    Posted at 13:12h, 17 March Reply

    I have realized this year that I own more read aloud books than I can use in a school year. Therefore, I will not be ordering any more. (You know that’s lie!) I love out book room at school! It is such a great resource. Some of the “higher-ups” are talking about disassembling it to get the books back out and into the hands of kids. I suggested that they instead spend some money on books for classrooms. So far that is happening, but after returning to work after long breaks (like the Spring Break we are nearly finished with) I al worried I will walk in and find a box of book room books has been deposited in each class and the book room is no more. Hopefully this will not happen!

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    Posted at 14:57h, 17 March Reply

    I am so guilty of bringing in my own favorite books, and not going to our Literary Resource Rooms first. I always think I’m doing teachers a favor by introducing new titles to them and their students, but I probably end up frustrating them when they don’t have access to the titles. This serves as a great reminder for me to rethink my current practices. Thanks for mentoring me yet again!

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    Carrie Gelson
    Posted at 16:02h, 17 March Reply

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every school invested in both a diverse and huge school library AND a book room like pictured above? Unfortunately, some schools have neither. I think carefully about my own classroom library – I definitely have read aloud bins organized by theme and it sure helps me.

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    Holly Mueller
    Posted at 19:40h, 17 March Reply

    This is so smart! I love to organize books. I’ve tried all kinds of different systems – theme topic, skill, author, genre, related content areas, etc. I also love that you use the school’s books for your coaching/PD! You want teachers to be able to use your ideas with the resources they already have. Brilliant!

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    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 00:59h, 18 March Reply

    I love that you go in and find books that are within the school walls. So often we have staff developers show up with a book we don’t have or with the same book over and over again. Your post reinforces the idea that books are flexible and personal. It’s fun to make connections with them and spend time exploring others as well.

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