Saturday Odds n’ Ends

27 Jul

It’s Saturday, and it seems like a good day to write up some odds and ends.  First on the block…

 The Trials and Tribulations of Melvil Dewey

Dewey PosterIn my first post earlier this month, I wrote about a game named Python, which I created to introduce kids to the ten major classes of the Dewey Decimal System.  Before diving into the game itself, I wrote a bit about the Dewey Decimal Number of the Day poster we had on display in the library.  To recap, Ingrid created the poster and is responsible for the inspired choice of using the young, debonair Melvil and giving him a glittery bowtie.

In case you’re wondering, those are M&M’s.  I have a romantic notion they were left as an offering by someone in the Cataloging Department.

M and MsBesides the poster, the plan has been to hide a smaller Dewey in the non-fiction shelves where the Number of the Day is located.  It started out straightforward enough, with no added illustration or embellishment, but then it began to get…um, creative.

Call Number 327, Spies.  Dewey is saying, "I'm wearing my spy disguise!"

Call Number 327, Spies. Dewey is saying, “I’m wearing my spy disguise!”

This was the first one.  After Agent Dewey, I couldn’t not accessorize him for the Number of the Day.  I promised in my Python post I would soon share some of the indignity I put Mr. D through.  I’ll make good on that vow today.  Take a look-see below…

Dewey Tut

Call Number J 932, Ancient Egypt. Dewey Tut.


Call Number J 332, Money. The coin says “In Dewey We Trust” and is worth 31 cents.

Dewey Origami

Call Number J 736.98, Origami. Dewey is saying, “Hey! There’s a bird on my head!”


Call Number J 636.7, Dogs. Dewey is saying, “A French Poodle? Really?”


Call Number J 595.7, Insects. Dewey is saying, “Bzzz, Bzzz, Bzzz, Bzzz, Bzzz, Bzzz” which is translated beneath, “Here I am! Nice work, superstar!”

Dewey Ballet

Call Number J 792.8, Dance. Dewey is saying, “I knew they were going to put me in a tutu and a tiara!”

There are others, but these are my favorites.  The Dewey Decimal Number of the Day has been on hiatus lately.  Maybe we’ll resume humiliating him again when the school year begins.

Summer Reading: We’re Almost (Halfway) There

I am aware that lots of libraries across the nation are wrapping up their Summers soon because the school year starts in August.  Here in New York, school starts on September 9th, so we have another six weeks to go.

You got that right, Linus.

Hang in there, Linus.

I think a lot about Summer Assignment Reading during these months, and I want to do a little more editorializing on the topic here.  I can’t claim extensive knowledge of research related to summer reading loss, but the articles I have read uniformly indicate that pretty much any reading prevents the Summer Slide from setting in, as long the child finds the reading material interesting and accessible, and spends an adequate amount of time reading it.

So I don’t get how assigning students a specific set of titles to read (titles that often test the parameters of those words interesting and accessible) is any better at warding off the Summer Slide than, say, giving those same students guidelines (for example, number of books, minimum number of pages, no more than two graphic novels, maybe a list of suggested sure-fire reads) and then setting them loose to discover books they will connect with, enjoy, and finish.

Not that I’m an expert in brain science either, but it seems to me that being thoroughly engaged in the experience of reading, whether it’s Caddie Woodlawn or an Avengers novelization, will fire off the same developmentally-appropriate synapses in the brains of kids who choose to read them.  It’s true that in being allowed to choose their own reading, many kids will miss out experiencing a level of sophistication and  ‘enrichment’ in texts for a couple of months, but is that really that big a deal?  Isn’t it more important for them to keep the foundational reading skills (comprehension, guessing from context, paraphrasing, recognizing setting and characterization, etc.) nice and sharp for September?  We’ve already established I’m not a reading expert, so if there’s something that’s really off-base about thinking this way, please let me know why!

Take a look at this article, The Problem with Summer Reading.  The author, Carolyn Ross is a high school English teacher.  She gets it, she really, really gets it:

When I take away book reports and reading quizzes, when I eliminate deadlines for finishing books and specific title requirements, my students are free to read books that they choose, and as the year progresses, they choose more and more and more.

“How are we being graded on this?” they ask, at the beginning of the year. “You get full credit just by reading,” I respond, and they stare at me confused for a second longer before shrugging and turning their eyes back to the page.

I don’t assign anything to reward or punish them for being readers. What I do, is assess their skills as the year progresses. That’s how I know that that when you read a lot of books you like, you become a better reader and writer without even trying. That’s how I know that my instruction meets the Common Core State Standards for Education without ever forcing them to read The Odyssey, or making them take a test on a book.

I couldn’t put it any better than that.

1,000 Origami Yoda Update

I’ll wrap up with a status report on the 1,000 Origami Yoda’s we’re trying to fold at my library before the end of the summer.  I counted them up on Wednesday and we were at:

Yoda Sign

51 Yoda’s! Which isn’t all that impressive, really. I folded half of them myself.

Yesterday (Friday), I had an hour free between desks, so I carried my Yoda supplies to a table on the open floor, began folding, and offered to teach anyone who looked curious about what the heck I was doing how to fold one, too.  We have a bunch of Lego Yoda posters, and I gave one to each kid who folded one Yoda.  We also have a lot of giveaway books, and I let kids choose one if they folded a second Yoda and put it in the Yoda box.   Doing this casual, on-the-spot type of program gave the 1,000 Yoda Project the momentum it needed.  I wound up with 5 or 6 kids who, once they learned how, were folding Yoda after Yoda after Yoda.  There was one boy who sat at the table for TWO HOURS  folding away.  I wanted to go over and give him a handtowel and a bottle of Gatorade.  He was totally in the zone!

So here’s a view into the Yoda box as of Friday afternoon.  I didn’t have time to count them all, but I will on Monday.  We’re definitely past the 100 mark.

Yoda Box

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!  I’m committed to posting here every five days, so see you on Thursday!



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