"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Creating Rules and Establishing Routines

We've spent the week reviewing rules and practicing routines. After changing my style midway through the year last year, I am back to writing a daily message. This week it looked somewhat like this: 

Welcome Library Learners, 

Today we will learn our library routines for entering and leaving the library as well as browsing and borrowing. We will also reflect on last week's lesson and review our new library rules. 

 ~Mrs. Reed 

What is the difference between a rule and a routine? 

Why are rules and routines important? 

(I am placing my two questions after my closing because I want the questions to feel separate from the message and therefore reinforce the fact that they help frame the conversation for that day.)

First, we reflected on last week's lesson which used the book If You Plant a SeedI took all the rules that the 493 students shared with me last week and condensed them three ideas that seemed to encompass much of what the students shared, such as: raise your hand, listen, treat materials carefully, share, be thoughtful, help others, etc. 

Be Kind. 
Be Courageous. 
Always Do Your Best Work. 

We talked through them and I explained that we would explore each one in the next few weeks. 

With the rules sign behind me for reinforcement and my message beside me, I moved the conversation into routines. The second through fifth graders needed very little explanation of a routine, so we jumped into differentiating between the two. We generally came back to the idea that rules are something you follow where as routines are something you adopt and do without thinking. 

I have been explaining to the children that if we adopt these routines and they become automatic then we will shave off valuable minutes in each library class that can be given to learning and creating. 

I am really hoping that the time spent practicing routines will have an impact. We talked about what it should look like and sound like when classrooms are entering and leaving the library. We practiced coming into the library calmly and quietly and finding a good learning seat.  We practiced pushing in chairs and logging out of computers and lining up calmly and quietly. We practiced browsing and borrowing, with a significant amount of time on browsing. The student volunteers did a fabulous job of modeling what it looks like: scanning the shelves, exploring titles and covers, reading excerpts, and flipping through pages. Students also modeled what good reader's advisory looks and sounds like. 

This was a different kind of week. There was a good deal of explaining, some talking, a bit of moving, and a lot of watching and listening. I am looking forward to getting back to books next week, but if what I have seen and heard this week is any indication, I've got even more evidence that great year lies ahead.

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