I like to start some of my lessons with a bit of drama. It tends to pique the students curiosity and "hooks" them into the lesson.
Oh no! Look at the messy bookcase! I have a problem and I will need your help. Boys and girls, come meet me over in our classroom library. I have moved some things around so you can all fit. Do you see this colored tape on the spine of the book? Why do you think it is there? (Allow for three or four answers.)
I like the guesses that you are making. It is not there because someone tore the book. It is not for decoration. It is for identifying genre. Genre! What's that? Books can have different themes to them. They could be about animals or weather or dinosaurs or people.
If I went to our bookshelf and wanted to find a book about dinosaurs, do you think I want to go through all of these books to find one to read. Probably not. That is why I have come up with a system for you to find the books more easily. Each different color of tape means a distinct type or genre of book. Take a look at these books. What do they have on them that is the same? Yellow tape. Now let's look at the books. What do you notice about these books that makes them alike? They are all books about dinosaurs. So in this case, yellow tape means dinosaur books.
Physically organized environments clearly indicate the types of activities that occur in each area and promote increased understanding and attention to task. Teaching organizing skills, like putting their books away properly, helps students to understand the specific rules of each space, the types of activities to complete in each space, and the behavioral expectations of a specific space.
With the assistance of a couple children, I will sort a stack of books by tape color. I will chose one pile of books and show them to the class. We will try to figure out what all of the books in this stack have in common. We will repeat this with some of the other books, too. I will model how to place the books into their proper place on the shelf.
Now look at our bookshelf. What do you notice in the front of each compartment? More tape. Can you find the yellow taped section? Why do you think that the different sections have tape like the books? It means that the yellow taped books go in the yellow taped compartment. Let's look at the brown section. This is the section for our Author of the Month's books. Who remembers our Author of the Month? "Norman Bridwell!" What should you see on all of these books? "Brown tape!" "Clifford!" That is what you should see, but look--what is wrong? "There is all different colors of tape." Someone did not know the system when they were putting away their books, so this is why I am teaching you how to follow my system. This book has green tape, so where should it go? This book has yellow tape, where should it go? The rest of these books have brown tape, so they can stay in this section. Don't forget to check the tape!
Each child will be given a book to look over and place on the shelf according to the tape color on the spine and the colored tag on the bookshelf. We will observe if the students follow this plan of organization correctly.
Now it is your turn to help me. I will give each of you a book to see if you remember how we sort the books. When we put the books in the compartments, we set them in gently and with the spines on the left side. Who remembers what the spine of the book is? It is the side that holds all the pages together. Point to the spine on your book. I will let one row at a time come up and show me how to put their books away. A student explains how to sort the books.