11.03.2013

Learning the Dewey Decimal System

To organize and keep track of a large collection of books, you have to have a system.  Which system you use, depends on how you will need to access and use your media.  Many classroom teachers organize their books by reading level or theme.  In home libraries, book owners can sort by genre or even cover color.

Dewey Decimal Classification is the most widely-used library system in the world.  Melvil Dewey's method was first published in 1876.  The system assigns a three-digit number to each book to represent its subject.  Decimal points are added when further division is necessary.  After they are grouped by subject, books in a category are sorted by the authors' last names.  This method allows users to find books about similar topics together on the library shelves.

In order to make the most of the system, most students need a little instructional orientation.  To introduce the Dewey Decimal System, begin by reading Do You Know Dewey?: Exploring the Dewey Decimal System by Brian P. Cleary & Joanne Lew-Vriethoff.
This rhyming book succinctly describes the purpose of the system and the topics included in the ten major subject classifications.  After hearing the book read aloud, my students were immediately interested in exploring new areas of the library's collection.

Patrons can (obviously) practice the Dewey Decimal System by searching for and locating books on the shelves.  Learning stations are another way to help students review the new information.
Using the Dewey See It? poster from Demco, students can play an I-Spy game that helps them review the major Dewey categories.  You could also make your own poster with various magazine images at the top and item lists at the bottom.  Just be sure to include items from each of the ten classifications.

Students can also play Dewey Match, a game like Memory that helps students build familiarity with the Dewey categories.
Our set is another Demco product that seems to be out of stock.  But you could definitely recreate this idea by printing images on card stock.

Students can review the Dewey groups by playing Mike Frerichs' Dewey Decimal System Library Skills Game.

Above all else, though, my students' favorite activity for reviewing the Dewey Decimal System is watching and listening to the Dewey Decimal Rap.

1 comment:

Shiv said...

Thanks for this post, gave me some good ideas for my Library Prefects!