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Garden City School Library: Dewey Detectives

Essential Question

How does the library use categories to arrange the nonfiction section?

Lesson 1 - What's My Category?

  • Introduction: Ask students if they have collections at home. If needed to get discussion started, share some of my own collections (books, teapots, magnets, etc.). Ask volunteers to describe how they arrange their collections. Answers are likely to include by size, color, team, etc.

    Ask someone to remind the class how E and BD books are arranged (alphabetically by author and series, respectively). Explain that Melvil Dewey came up with the Dewey Decimal system to arrange nonfiction books. And that instead of lecturing to them, I’m going to have them figure out some of the categories on their own.

  • Group Work: Give each student a "game card" that includes a Dewey 100s number and a subject. They must find other students with the same number and figure out how their subjects go together as a category. I use 500s, 700s, and 900s for this, because they are the most obvious (I think). 


    Once all groups have figured out their category, have the students in each category call out their subjects to see if the rest of the class can figure out their answer.

    Now do a more difficult group of categories (300s, 400s, 600s) either in groups again or as a class, depending on the students.


  • Assessment: 

    1 = Group does not come up with category

    2= Group needs a LOT of prompting to figure out category

    3= Group comes up with category independently

    4 = Student's group comes up with category independently AND student figures out another category as well

Lesson 2 - Where Would I Find This?

1 = 3 or fewer answers correct

2 = 4-6 answers correct

3 = 7-8 answers correct

4 = all answers correct AND does the extra credit


Standards Addressed

‚ÄčAASL: 2.1.2 - Organize knowledge so that it is useful; 2.1.5 - Collaborate with others to exchange ideas, develop new understandings, make decisions, and solve problems; 3.1.2 - Participate and collaborate as members of a social and intellectual network of learners

Common Core: SL.1 - Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners; W.4.8 - ... take notes and categorize information …M7 - Look for and make use of structure; M.4.OA - Generate and analyze patterns

Rhode Island Cross-Curricular Proficiencies: Communication - Identify, select, and relevant information; Problem Solving and Critical Thinking - Identify relevant information/data from resources and analyze patterns and trends to identify relationships

Rhode Island School Library Curriculum Priority Skills: 1.1 - Verbally and physically demonstrates simple organizational skills such as sorting and categorizing objects and information; 3.2 - Participates in collaborative conversations with peers and adults to share ideas and information