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Using Book Retriever for Home Reading

 At my school, the Home Reading program has recently undergone a large change in some classrooms.  We have an amazing group of parents who volunteer to switch out the home reading books for all the classrooms daily.  As much as we appreciate the hard work and time (believe me it takes them hours!) they put in, a group of us really wanted to put the choice of book selection in the students hands.  We hoped to inspire some natural book talks as well as spark more interest in the books they are reading.  By adding choice, the students would hopefully be more eager to read the books and exchange them more frequently.

Our lovely principal ordered a few hundred books for the four of us to start our collection with.  We didn't want to pull books from the existing collection as it was extremely well organized and we felt there wasn't quite enough books in that set for all classes anyhow.  Technically we were setting up a system for 3 classrooms as I only have 5 students participating in the home reading program and they go across the hall to exchange their books.

The first step was to stamp all the books with the school name/address.  We then put a label on the back that said "Home Reading 2016".  We didn't want the books to get mixed in with the guided reading set, and we also wanted to know how long they would last.  By adding the date we can measure wear and tear a bit better.  We then had to cover all of the books in mac-tack.  That step was by far the most tedious!  Many hands make light work....

I'm typing up a list of books for the student tracking pages.  They have a duotang in the book bag which includes a list of titles at their level.  Parents are still required to sign and date beside a title once their child has read it. 

 We knew we needed some sort of system for book check out.  We could have gone the "traditional" route with the pockets and library cards.  You know... take the card out of the book pocket, put it in your name pocket.  We wanted something with less "bits" to lose, and we also wanted to be able to track the books across all 3 classrooms.  If a book is out, I want to know who has it without walking room to room to check each individual class system.  That's where Book Retriever comes in.

The app was very inexpensive (less than $2).  By clicking the "Add Book(s)" button in the top row, we scanned each book and added in the title, author and reading level.  The app has a HUGE amount of book information at the ready, so you don't have to spend the time adding title and author for most books.  Unfortunately, the PM Benchmarks collection isn't part of the ISBN numbers the app recognizes.  It really wasn't that much work to add in the information, though.

I like how simple the main screen of this app is.  It is clear to the kids which buttons they need to use - "Check In" and "Check Out".  We are using this app with students from grade 2 through 5 and none of them have needed more than one run through to know how to use it independently. 

 In the morning, students grab my iPad and head across the hall with their book bag.  Due to the fact that we split the collection up between 3 rooms, this might not seem like a lot of books.  It took us some coordination to make sure we had the appropriate levels in each room.  Every few weeks we do a book shuffle between rooms to keep the titles fresh for kids.

When checking out a book, students will scan the barcode and then scroll through a list of student names (I've blanked this out in the orange rectangle).  They then press the "Check Out" button.  The check in process is very similar.  So far, we haven't had any books checked out to the wrong student.  They love finding their name in the system, so they have been accurate about that!


 When you click on the "My Classroom Library" button you can see at a glance which books are checked out and which are available.  If you click on a title, you can see which student has the book signed out.  

We are really loving this system!  What do you use to manage home reading in your classroom?
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