Teachers Network
Translate Translate English to Chinese Translate English to French
  Translate English to German Translate English to Italian Translate English to Japan
  Translate English to Korean Russian Translate English to Spanish
Lesson Plan Search
Our Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Popular Teacher Designed Activities
TeachNet NYC Directory of Lesson Plans TeachNet NYC Dirctory of Lesson Plans

Teachers Network Leadership Institute
How-To Articles
Videos About Teaching
Effective Teachers Website
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Curriculum Units
Classroom Specials
Teacher Research
For NYC Teachers
For New Teachers

TeachNet Grant:
Lesson Plans
TeachNet Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
TeachNet Grant Winners
Adaptor Grant Winners
Other Grant Winners
Math and Science Learning
Impact II
Grant Resources
Grant How-To's
Free Resources for Teachers
Our Mission
   Press Releases
   Silver Reel
   2002 Educational Publishers Award


NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Instructional Videos for Teachers about Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.

How to Home
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

Creating a Balanced Literacy Library
Bonnie Glasgold

One of the goals for a balanced literacy classroom is to have a diverse classroom library that will engage, excite, and encourage readers of all age groups and ability levels. But starting a well-stocked, appropriately-stocked library can be daunting. Following are some guidelines that will hopefully make the task more manageable.

The key to a balanced literacy library is diversity. In each library there should be books of various reading levels and genres (fiction, non-fiction, classics, adventure, science fiction, fantasy, biography, autobiography, historical fiction, to name a few). You’ll want to have a selection that appeals to children of that age group, in levels above and below their reading ability. It is not necessary to have multiple copies of each book. It is hoped that a book that is well-liked will be “the topic of conversation” and other readers will be waiting expectantly to get their chance to read it. It is a good idea to have approximately 20 books per student, so a typical class of 28 students would have a classroom library of close to 600 books. That sounds like a lot, but it really is necessary to have a large variety to choose from.

There are many different ways to set up your library. You can store the books in plastic containers (the kind that can be purchased very inexpensively in Dollar stores). You might organize the books by genre, author, subject matter, or reading level. I like to group a number of books by the same author. Students can compare the author’s style with his or her other books, or to another author. Many authors follow one character for a few years and through different adventures, allowing the student to get to know the character like a friend. A simple label can be made by using an index card to title the container. Use clear bookbinding tape to afix the index card to the container.

Approximately one third of your library should be leveled. These can run the gamut of genres. The purpose of leveling books is to encourage the reader to read books on his or her level: a level that is not so hard that it will frustrate the reader and turn him or her off to reading, and a level that is not so easy that it will not challenge the reader. In most New York City classrooms, a start up library is given to each teacher. In order to determine which books are most appropriate for your particular class, you need to determine the approximate reading level of your students. Generally, the middle of the class reader is the approximate reading level for your class. I’ll have 50 percent of the books on that reading level, 25 percent below that level and 25 percent above that level. Some good resources for finding out the level of a book are: Leveled Books for Readers by Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C. Fountas, Heinemann Publishing, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and A Field Guide to the Classroom Library, by Lucy Calkins and the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Community, Heinemann Publishing, Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Both can be found online at www.heniemann.com/fieldguides. You can decide which books you wish to level.

Initially, the teacher should match the student to the appropriate reading level, keeping in mind the student’s interests. Your goal should always be to eventually move the student on to a higher level. Generally, the easiest books begin with level A (kindergarten) and progress alphabetically, with T, U, V, W, etc., being the upper elementary grade levels.

The Five Finger Rule
How can the teacher help the students choose the “right” book? Have the student test the book using the "Five Finger Rule.” They should read a page and put up a finger for each word they don’t know. Use this guide:

1 Finger: Easy to read.
2 Fingers: Just right--enjoy!
3 Fingers: Challenging, but try it--you might like it.
4 Fingers: Very challenging--read with a partner.
5 Fingers: Too hard--save it for later, or have someone read it to you.

How do students choose a “just right” book? Have them look at the cover, author, illustrations, and genre. Have them read the “blurb” on the book jacket. Does the book look and sound interesting? Have them look at the size of the print, the number of words on a page and the total number of pages. Some students are turned off by too small print or too long of a book. Other students like long books that they can get lost in!

Bonus Tip
Encourage students to share by having them retell their book.

I hope you have found this information useful. If you have any questions e-mail me.


Come across an outdated link?
Please visit The Wayback Machine to find what you are looking for.


Journey Back to the Great Before