Thursday, March 3, 2011

Lesson Plan: The Dewey Decimal System

Lesson Plan Title: The Dewey Decimal System
Concept/Topic to Teach: An introduction to Dewey Decimal classification
Grade Level: 6th-8th
21st Century Learner Standards: 1: Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge

General Goal(s): Students will understand that a large percentage of books and other materials in the library are classified using the Dewey Decimal System. Students will understand that the Dewey Decimal System is a method of organization.

Specific Objectives: Students will sort books and materials into Dewey Classes. Students will choose an interest and write their interest and their name in the appropriate class on a large Dewey Decimal classification chart. Students will work in pairs to fill out a worksheet asking students to choose the class where they might expect to find particular books.

Required Materials: Butcher paper, markers, bag of miscellaneous items representing various Dewey classes, worksheet, books from various classes with the call number covered. Laminated cards that list the Dewey classes with examples.

Anticipatory Set (Lead In): Have the butcher paper (already labelled with Dewey classes), markers and cards set out on a table. Alternately hang the butcher paper on a free wall.  Tell the class the following story.

What I want for us to talk about today is the Dewey Decimal System of Classification. That is a mouth full! Does anybody know what I'm talking about? What is the Dewey Decimal System? The Dewey Decimal System was invented by a guy named Melville Dewey back in the 19th century. Now, Dewey was a librarian. Before Dewey came along, librarians put books back on the shelf just any old way they liked! They might arrange them by color or by size or they might just shove them on the nearest convenient shelf.  Dewey thought this was crazy! They didn't have computers back then. So, if you wanted a specific library book, say you wanted to read Twilight, you had to go in and look at nearly every single book until you found it. Dewey said, "Lets put books that are alike together on one shelf, all the animal books together, all the poetry books together and so on. So they did that, and it was better! But, some librarians still got confused. They couldn't tell what a book was about quickly and stuck it on the wrong shelf by accident. So Dewey said, lets give the different categories of books, classes he called them, separate numbers. Then we can put a number on the spine of each book to help us remember where it goes. (Hold up a book and show the spine as you speak.) They did that. It worked great and we still follow that system today. If the computer goes down and we know the different classes of the Dewey Decimal system then we can still find the books we need.

Step by Step Procedures: Let the class know that that you would like them to work together to put books into the correct categories or classes. Say, "I am going to give each table a list of the different Dewey Decimal  classes along with some objects and some books. (If time allows make sure that students know that we only use Dewey classification for non-fiction in our library.) I will give you a few minutes to think it over. When I call your table, I'd like for you to come up and place your books and objects in the correct class on my Dewey chart." At this point, draw everyones attention to the Dewey chart that you have set up.

Pass out materials

Give students between 5 and 10 minutes to talk quietly together

Circulate to answer questions if needed

Call tables up based on who seems to be done first

Once everyone has added their books and materials, pick up a few items and books to discuss

Tell everyone that you are going to call them away by tables to choose a book to check out but that you would like for them to think about something that they like or that interests them (give examples, could be soccer, horse back riding, stamp collecting) and go write it in marker on the paper on the sorting table, in the correct category. Let students know that this chart will hang in the hall outside the library for everyone to enjoy for the next week and that they do not have to sign their name along with their interest unless they want to.

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