Elementary Library Updates

Library and Information Skills Integration: Grade 4

The grade 4 students are wrapping up their 5-week “Sharing the Planet” unit. The library has been collaborating with grade 4 during this unit with a focus on research skills. We worked on finding good sources of information for our research, note-taking with graphic organizers, and creating bibliographies to show where we got our information. Grade 4 students learned how to use the iPad app “Puppet Edu” to create their final projects showing their understanding of unit concepts. Below are some photos of the grade 4 students as they work on their final projects.

Thanks to Grade 4

Grade 4 today helped find 23 books today!

We are almost finished with our inventory, and during their check out time, the grade 4 students helped us find 23 books that had been misplaced in the library.

4K worked on picture books and 4R worked on the secondary school fiction collection. All told they located 23 books out of a list of 57.  Each student received one to three slips with the call number, the barcode number and the title of the book, and used those to search for the books on the shelves where they should have been located.

Now we only have to find 892 more. It sounds like a big number, but actually that’s very good. Our inventory is now at 97.12%. Thanks, grade 4 students.


Inquiring into Heroes and Inventions

This week has seen grades 3 and 4 inquiring into heroes and inventions, their current units of inquiry. For both units, we have shown students to use Encyclopedia Britannica Online (EBO), which has a new layout this year.

To log in to Britannica School Online, you will need to first log in to the library OPAC. You can use your personal account information or the Quick Login, which can be found in the homework logs and the library brochures. After logging in to the OPAC, you get to the Home tab where you can scroll down to view all of our subscription databases. Britannica School Online is one of these. Click on the link and use the username and password given to log in.

Once you have logged in to EBO, you will see three levels of difficulty: elementary, middle and high.

Landing page for Britannica School Online


Elementary is for up to grade 4. Middle is from grade 5 to 8, and high is for grades 9 and up.

The elementary level has two levels of reading difficulty. The middle and high have three levels. All have a read aloud tool which will read the article. Starting from the elementary reading level 2, there is a translate tool which will translate the article into any language. Please note that it is a machine translation and so will not be perfect.

Speaker and translate tool on Britannica School Online


Britannica School Edition is just one of the many databases that the IST library subscribes to for our community. The grade 4 students are also using World Book Discoveries and Inventions Digital Collection to help with their unit on inventions.

We will offer two sessions for parents to “show off” our databases and other resources. Please join us. Register online via the sidebar. A bus will be provided for

  • Library Resources for Parents – Elementary on 17 September
  • Library Resources for Parents – Secondary on 24 September

Spine Poems by Grade 3 and 4

Here is a slideshow with spine poems that the grades 3 and 4 created. There were many more poems, but unfortunately the photos didn’t come out well so I only included the photos where you could read the poems.

Also, the slides go by rather quickly so if you can’t read the poems, come to the library. We have a better slideshow on the large screen TV.

When, oh when, will our book orders arrive?

We placed our Scholastic book club orders two weeks ago. As stated on the flyers, books take 4 to 5 weeks to arrive from the US. Some students are getting a little anxious about receiving their books. It’s great to see that excitement and we hope that anticipation will make the reading of the books even sweeter.

Chae Rin is an elementary student who is very excited about the books and can’t wait for them to arrive. Here’s an email conversation she and I had about her impatient wait.Chae Rin's email message

Response to Chae Rin

Chae Rin's reply

Final response to Chae Rin

So, Chae Rin and all the students who have been anxiously waiting for their books, be a little bit patient. Books should be here shortly after the October break.

Nick maps the library

Grade 4s Dewey-ing it at the Library

How do we organize the IST library’s non-fiction collection? We use the Dewey Decimal Classification System to organize it by subject.

The BrooklynExpedition.org site has a very good explanation of how the Dewey Decimal System came to be. It describes how Melvil Dewey, frustrated by how every library in the late 1800s organized its books in different ways, realized that one way of organizing library books was to consider the questions they answered. He divided the areas of non-fiction into 10 broad subjects, each of which answered a question. Mr. Dewey was an inquirer and he saw the library as the one place to answer all of life’s questions.

BrooklynExpedition.org has a great graphic organizer showing the different sections of the Dewey Decimal System and their corresponding questions.


The gallery below which shows our fourth graders working on their maps and Dewey scavenger hunts.

The fourth graders have had two lessons in a mini-unit on the Dewey Decimal System. In the first lesson, they mapped the non-fiction collection, labeling a map of the library with the call numbers for each section. In the second lesson, they completed a scavenger hunt where they had to identify the “hundreds” section they would look in to find information for a given topic.

For their new unit of inquiry, the fourth graders will be inquiring into how the world works, and specifically, into matter. They will be carrying out science experiments, and will therefore need the 500s section of our collection. Our next library lessons will be focused on helping them use the library OPAC to identify titles that might help them and then, with their enhanced knowledge on our Dewey Decimal classification, they will independently locate those title on the shelves.

Fractured Fairy Tales

What happens after a fairy tale ends? What do Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Jack, the Giant and the Three Little Pigs do for fun? What if Sleeping Beauty were a dragon? What if the Frog Prince likes being a frog and wants to be changed back?

If you’re looking for the answers to these questions – and even if you’re not! -, you might find them in a fractured fairy tale. We call a fairy tale a fractured fairy tale when the author takes a well-known story and changes it a bit to answer all those pesky questions.

Grade 4 students are starting a language arts unit on writing narratives, and they are looking at fairy tales for inspiration. Of course, they know that the normal fairy tales are found in our 398.2 section, but the fractured fairy tales are mostly found in the E fiction section (the picture books) and are arranged alphabetically by the author’s last name. I created a list of fractured fairy tales for the grade four students to refer to during this unit, and for all of our patrons who enjoy a bit of fairy tale fun.

To get to the fractured fairy tales list, you’ll need to go to the library OPAC, http://library.istianjin.net. Then, follow these simple steps.

1. Click on the Visual tab.

2. Click on Book Lists.

3. Scroll down to find Fractured Fairy Tales and click on the button.

4. Read through the list and find your favorite. If you need help locating the book on the shelves, please ask a librarian.

Grade 4 Are Principled Researchers

Grade 4 has just presented a fantastic science fair showcasing experiments each student devised. The central idea of their unit was, ” Scientific experimentation allows us to investigate our questions and reach conclusions.” As a culminating activity for the unit, students explored questions they had posed during the unit and independently carried out experiments to follow the scientific process and answer those questions.

As part of their inquiries into scientific experimentation, students had to tune into the background knowledge they already had about science experiments and they also had to look for examples of experiments they could replicate in the classroom.

G4 students learned to use the Dewey Decimal System classification number for science,  “the 500s”, to help them find appropriate books on science in our library’s OPAC (online catalog) and on our shelves. In preparation for the science fair, they reviewed citation of books as a way that principled library and information users respect the ideas of others. Each student wrote the author, title, publisher and publication date on an index card which they displayed next to their experiment materials. Here are some photos of their citation cards. Can you find the citation at each student display?

Click here for more photos on the 4R blog.

Click here for more photos on the 4B blog.

Does Grade 4 Know Where Books Are? Yes, They Do-ewey!

Grade 4 students have been learning about the Dewey Decimal System and how it is used at our library to organize our non-fiction collection. They have been learning the main 10 subject categories and how using their knowledge of the “Dewey hundreds” they can easily locate books through our library OPAC and on the shelves.

Today, the 4D class was challenged to a scavenger hunt. They were given a broad description of a possible school project and then they were asked to find a book that they could use to locate that information. They were also tasked with writing down the title and the call number for the book.

I am very happy to say that almost every  single one of the fourth graders in Ms. D’s class was able to quickly locate the books needed using their knowledge of the Dewey system and where we have the different subject areas in our library. We are confident that they will be able to continue using this in real-life learning situations and as such, they are well positioned for the research they will be carrying out in the near future.