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Friday, September 2, 2011

Book Bins and New Beginnings

Book bins with each child's name and books to start the year.
Who knew some plastic bins from the Dollar Store could bring such joy? Okay, they are colorful plastic bins.  But that's not why they brought such joy. 

During the summer I read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and The Daily5 and the Cafe Book by sisters, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  These books became my inspiration and guides to how I will approach reading with my students this year.

Following the authors' suggestions students will select their own reading books which will then be used to practice the skills and strategies being taught - true differentiation! 

The Two Sisters suggested using Book bins for each student.  I hemmed and hawed about what to use and in the end (due to financial constraints) I chose some colorful, plastic bins from the Dollar Store. (I'm hoping they will hold up!)

Since Tropical Storm Irene blew into town and gave the students in my district a delayed school opening, I thought I would capitalize on the moment to fill each book bin with several books. 

Using my class list I selected books from my library that I thought might appeal to my new students.  Each box was then filled with books of different genres with the hope of tapping into some of their interests.  A bookmark was also added for extra measure!

What happened next was something unexpected.  I started humming. (Okay, not that unexpected if you know me.)  With a spring in my step I started bounding from the bookshelf to the book bin.   My pulse quickened and my heart twittered. I felt light and hopeful.  I realized it was the feeling of pure JOY!

When I had filled all 27 bins I stood back and admired my handiwork.  I began to wonder.  Would my students like the books? The bins?  Would they experience the joy in a similar way? Would they be excited when they could add books for themselves?  Would they enjoy reading this year?

I think I will always remember the excitement and joy I felt at the thought of this new school year.  Not just a new year, with new students, but a new beginning with renewed commitment to helping students find the JOY in reading!


  1. Fun post. I could relate with working so hard on something with the classroom and then wondering if the kids will like it. Hope you have a great year! @yourkidsteacher

  2. Thanks Eric. ! Just read one of your blog posts and will be using the mantra "Instead of I can't, ask: How Can I?" I think it fits in perfectly with reading as well!

    Wishing you a great year too!

  3. Hey Nancy. You are killing me! I can hear you humming now! Those kids are lucky to have you as their teacher! Have a fantastic year!

  4. Hi Nancy!
    Please come down to my classroom sometime so I can share my library with you! At the second grade level, we do something library is leveled to match a student's reading ability, and is also sorted by author, series, or genre. Then, students are given a bookbag (a large ziploc bag.) Using the data I have for each student's reading fluency and ability level, students choose from the bins and fill their bookbags (between 5-7 books). Students may switch out their bookbags at any time. The library is organized in such a way as to make re-shelving their books in the right place quick and easy.
    This has been a learning process for me over a period of seven years, and each year I realize what works and what doesn't! But my library is one of the most talked about places in my classroom!(by students) I can totally relate to the joy it brought you to be creating such an exciting opportunity for your students!
    I can't wait to swing by your classroom and check it out!

  5. @ Carol Ann - Thank you - you are too kind.

    @ Judy - why haven't I seen this??? Are you doing the Daily5? If not you should try it with me!!!!

    I just love popping in and seeing what you are doing - your students are always so engaged in their work and proud of what they are doing. I would love to see how you have your library organized because at this point - the library is totally UN-organized. I was hoping to introduce genre right away and have the kids help me organize. I'll bet when I ask for their help - your former students will pipe up with some great suggestions.

    As always, every year is a learning year for me and I love when others are willing to share!

    Have a great weekend and I'll see you Tuesday!

  6. Nancy, I was practically humming and skipping just reading this! I am so excited to share our Daily 5 successes and brainstorm about things that aren't working. And I'm REALLY excited for our kids to share, too, this year!

    I didn't buy book bins this year because of some space constraints in my new classroom. I did buy 2 gallon ziploc bags, and I think I may use those instead. The kids can store them in our group supply bins... maybe.... still trying to get everything figured out in the new room.

    Your kiddos are going to be swept up by your enthusiasm and joy! I can't wait to hear how they like their book bins!

  7. Nancy,
    What a joyful blog post. When I read the first paragraph, I was thinking the book baskets had brought such joy to your students. Then I realized it was you they have brought joy too.

    They are yet to bring joy to the students when they arrive next week. How fun! Maybe you'll make another post after the fourth graders see them. I can't wait to hear about your first day.

    I too have had a joyful start to my school year based on the connections we are making with a global community. I look forward to each day, and I'm challenged to do a better job than ever.

    Thanks for sharing,

  8. @Becky - I love that I have the support of great teachers like you. It WILL be great to swap stories, ideas and resources. I was going to use the Gallon baggies (and may end up doing so since I'm not sure the bins will hold up). We'll see.

    Hoping that I'll meet with success and that others in my building might want to try it!!! Thank you Becky!

    @Denise - That joyful feeling really did take me by surprise! Hoping my students will find the joy too!

    The global connections we are making are powerful. What a treat for our students to connect with people from all around the world - something not really available to us all those years ago.

    Thanks Denise & Becky for taking the time to comment.

  9. I like your colorful book bin idea. The second grade teacher and fourth grade teacher I work with have book bins and their kids like digging into their "own bin" (library of books) to read when there is free time. I am keeping a journal of literacy ideas for when I become a teacher.

  10. @Julie - Thanks for visiting and commenting. I think the kids will like filling their own bins with "just right" books for them. I'm hoping to have them use them during our literacy block as well as free time.

    I'm impressed that you are keeping a journal - You will already be ahead of the game when you have lots of ideas to choose from.

    Good luck on getting your own classroom!

    Again - thanks for visiting and sharing!

  11. What a nice post and such a great idea. I will have to look more into the Daily Five. I first heard about it on Twitter and think the idea of the book bins would be a great idea to strive for by the holidays. Love your writing!


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