Sunday, May 18, 2014

Tools to Help You Level Your Classroom Library

A few weeks ago, I shared tips for organizing your classroom library. The response to that blog post has been overwhelming! In the post, I explained that I sort the books in my own classroom library by reading level, as well as theme. 

Sorting by theme is the easy part. We all know the importance of providing developmentally appropriate texts to students, but leveling an entire library can be a daunting task … until today! 

Tools to help you level your classroom library

I have researched a few of the top tools (both free and paid) for aiding teachers as they level their classroom libraries. Today I bring you pricing information, photos of the tools in action, and my HONEST opinion of each resource so you can make an informed decision about what will work best for you as you level your own classroom library. 

Tools to help you level your classroom library

I was pleased to discover that several companies provide iPhone and Android apps that allow you to scan the barcode and receive leveling results within seconds! Free or paid, iPhone (and Android) apps are my favorite type of resource because they are the fastest and most efficient way to level your books. 

I'll start by walking you through a few of the apps I recently installed on my iPhone. It is important to note that whether it was free or paid; no single app was able to identify and provide leveling information for EVERY book in my library. As you might expect, the paid apps sometimes provided data which was lacking in the free apps. In other cases, the FREE Scholastic Book Wizard app provided information about books that the paid apps did not! I would not expect a single resource to single-handedly level your entire classroom library, but each of the apps I successfully tested were able to level an impressive amount of books from my own library. 

tools to level your classroom library


Scholastic Book Wizard App

Looking for a great FREE resource to help you get started? Start with the Book Wizard app from Scholastic! The app allows you to manually search (by typing the name of a tittle, author, or keyword). Most importantly, the app has a scanner that allows you to simply scan the bar code to quickly search the database for book information. I was pleased to discover that information for MANY of my classroom books was available in the app. A brief synopsis of the book is included on the "Book Info" screen as well as title, author, and book level information. The one (minor) downside was that the level information was presented in a rather tiny text. As a result, the book level didn't jump out at me, I had to really look at the screen to see it. 

Bonus Feature: The Scholastic Book Wizard app also allows users to create an inventory of all titles in  classroom library. You can also designate how many copies of the book you own and additional notes (such as where the book is filed in your library). I did not see any means to check books in or out. The list would mostly be a helpful tool for helping teachers quickly find a book or keep track of books they already own. 

Level It App

My favorite of the paid apps was the Level It app. Just like Book Wizard, this app allows users to manually search for a book, or use your phone's camera to scan a book's bar code. This app also provides a description of the book with title, author, and level information. I loved how the levels are easier to discern with a quick glance at the screen. When I had a big stack of books that needed to be leveled, I appreciated being able to quickly and easily find this information so I could move on to the next book in the pile. This app is available for iPhone and Android users.

Level It app to level your classroom library books
Bonus Feature: The Level It app includes a feature to inventory your classroom library, along with a class roster. This allows the teacher to create individual student profiles and the ability to check in/out books to specific students. This is not a feature that I can see myself implementing in my kindergarten classroom, but I know it is a tool that will prove to be useful for MANY classroom teachers. 


Literacy Leveler App 

The Literacy Leveler App by FikesFarm, LLC is similar to the Level It app, but a bit more basic. Priced at $3.99, this app is currently only available for iPhone users. It allows users to manually search by title, author or ISBN; as well as scan each book's bar code. Although the format of the app is simplistic compared to Level It (the other leading paid app for iPhone users) and did not include a book synopsis, I did appreciate the fact that book level information was boldly formatted and easy for users to see.
Literacy Leveler iPhone app to level your classroom library books

Bonus Feature: The Literacy Level app allows teachers to create an inventory of all titles included in their classroom library. It does indicate how many copies of a title a teacher possesses; nor does it allow teachers to make notes about each book. Despite its limitations, the library tool allows teachers to easily see a list of all books in their classroom library books at a given reading level with a quick touch of the screen.


Classroom Organizer App

Another free app for iPhone and Android users is the Classroom Organizer app from Booksource. The app allows teachers to determine reading levels, organize, and track books in their classroom library. The description of this app sounds amazing (especially for a free product). Unfortunately, the great features offered by this app are overshadowed by it's shortfalls for usability. I followed the instructions and got started by creating an online account with Booksource, but after nearly a dozen attempts, have not been able to successfully log in to the app. Some things should simply not be this much of a challenge. I'm sure it's a wonderful app, but I have yet to see it in action.

Classroom Organizer…. level  out your classroom library books

Tools to help you level your classroom library

If you don't have a smart phone or you prefer to look things up on your computer (the new old-fashioned way), there are a few websites that can be equally helpful as you level the books for your classroom library.

A to Z Teacher Stuff Leveled Books Database

The Leveled Books Database at A to Z Teacher Stuff allows users to search by title or author to determine the reading level for student books. Teachers have the option of searching to find Guided Reading Level or Reading Recovery Level.

Although the database is not comprehensive (MANY popular titles from my classroom library are missing from the online resource,)  it is free and helpful for some books. If you are just getting started, this is a resource that should not be overlooked.
Leveled Books Database from A to Z Teacher Stuff

Scholastic Book Wizard

If you love the Book Wizard app, you should know that this was the website that started it all. The Scholastic Book Wizard is a free website that allows educators to search by title, author, or keyword. Users can view a book's Grade Level Equivalent, Guided Reading Level, or Lexile Measure. The extensive database was my first step when I began to level my own classroom library a few years ago. 
level the books in your classroom library with Scholastic Book Wizard

Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Book Website

For educators seeking a more official means of leveling their classroom books, the Leveled Book Website from Fountas & Pinnell is available as a subscription service. With a base price of $25 for an annual membership, group discounts are also available.



I Leveled My Books… Now What? 

Once your classroom books have been leveled, you will want to make them easily accessible to your students. My own classroom library consists of two categories: books sorted by level and books sorted by theme.  The box containing each type of book is clearly labeled, and each book contained within the box is given a small coordinating label. This way, students have a clear visual cue to help them return books to their proper location. 

tools to help you level your classroom library


My Kindergarten Classroom Library

Find out more about my classroom library in this blog post. Learn how it's organized, where to shop for my favorite book bins and see the little touches I added to make it extra special for my students. 


Classroom Library Labels

Organize your library in style with my classroom library labels. Available in {Black Series} and {White Series}, this downloadable product includes labels for a variety of levels and themes to suit your classroom needs. Classroom Library Labels can be purchased in my TpT store. 

classroom library labels


 Do you have plans to level your classroom library this summer?
What is your favorite book leveling resource?


23 comments:

  1. Great comprehensive posts on leveling Maria. I use Level It app and like it a lot! I haven't tried Scholastic's yet but I'm going to check it out.
    Thanks
    Marsha
    A Differentiated Kindergarten

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  2. Another informative post! It was from your blog I got the idea to start visiting library book sales to build my classroom library. I thank you! Today I went to my first library book sale and grabbed 3 shopping bags full of books for $15. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    What's Working This Year?

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  3. Thanks for all the info you have provided! I am totally working on re-doing my library this summer. I am also implementing Daily 5 next year. I was wondering how you do book shopping for their book bins. I have 30 students and a small room and am looking for any tips to help with this task! Thanks :)

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    Replies
    1. I have had several requests for more information regarding how to book shop. I am hoping to blog about that very topic in the next few months.

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  4. Wow, you don't skip a beat! Thank you so much for all of this great information! I can't wait to get my new classroom library up and running one the summer.

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  5. This is a great post! Unfortunately, it doesn't look like the Scholastic Book Wizard app is available in the Android Google Play store :(

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    Replies
    1. That makes me so sad. I'm so sorry for the inaccurate information.

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  6. I loved the post just wish that scholastic was available for Andriod.

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    Replies
    1. I'm so sorry for the inaccurate information. I wish it was too!

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  7. I am Library Obsessed... Random Question.. Your bookshelves... are those the schools, or did you purchase them?

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    1. Great question! Several of the white bookshelves belong to me. I purchased them at Walmart for about $25 and assembled them myself. A few of the white bookshelves are actual wood shelves that belong to the school.

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  8. Great information! Another app I came across is Book Retriever (an iPhone app). I'm looking forward to trying it bc it includes AR information and the ability to print labels.

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  9. I am trying to decide on which bins to buy. I like the wide bins like your a,b,c and d bins because they make the books open-face for the students to view. At the same time, your slimmer upright bins take up less space. Where did you get your bins? I was looking at the ones on the Really Good Stuff website. What to do, what to do....

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  10. In addition, for those of you who have schools which use Reading Renaissance, the app Bookscanner gives AR level and quiz number which is awesome! Not all books scan on it, however, so then I use AR bookfinder website to look them up. I have the quiz numbers on my books and it is handy. I am also barcoding my library with C.L.A.S. (classroom library accounting system) which comes with a scanner, so I can have students scan what books they have in their daily five boxes and what they return. It will give me a report so I can know what my students choose and analyze their choices to make sure they are "just right" etc.

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  11. I was unable to find Scholastic Book Wizzard on the iTunes store or through Google Play. :-(

    @Tracy, I was almost ready to purchase about $200 worth of bins from Really Good Stuff when a friend mentioned Dollar Tree. I went there and found baskets for my bigger picture books, as well as baskets that are smaller for chapter books. Best part? I was able to purchase just the colors I wanted, blue and green and each basket was only $1.00!!!! If you have a local Dollar Tree, I would suggest checking it out before you break the bank at Really Good Stuff! :-)

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  12. I use Classroom Organizer and have been very pleased with it. Love the look of your library!

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  13. I have used classroom organizer for over a year now and absolutely love it! Some titles I've had to find in book wizard because classroom organizer didn't have a level, but I can simply add the level on my booksource page. I highly suggest you try this one again :)
    -Monique
    More Than Math by Mo

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  14. Is the Book Wizard still available? I searched the app store today on my old iPhone and couldn't locate it. I hope it comes out for android as I have a Samsung now.

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  15. I also wasn't able to sign into Classroom organizer - when I entered Canada - it shot be back to beginning screen over and over. No luck today!

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  16. I saw several posters commenting how Scholastic Book Wizard wasn't available for the Android market. I just downloaded it from the Play store, although I haven't used it yet. It just came out July 22nd, so you were a little bit early!

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  17. Hi. Have you tried book retriever app? (Only for iPhone or iPad)

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