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Background For Teachers:
From the first time we played it, the game was a success with third, fourth and fifth grades. The third graders even caught up with the upper grades, often gaining enough confidence to challenge other grades. The kids enjoyed it so much they wanted to challenge other schools. Of course, no one else taught the skill this way so that was impossible.
The students became more confident with Dewey as they began to apply what they learned in the "game" to researching for projects and reports. Even middle school librarians began to notice that the kids who came from my school were more comfortable with Dewey.
Since that first time, I have refined and extended the game. I have used it in 3 different schools with vastly different clientele. Even the slowest learners get the hang of it and the quick ones are happy to help their classmates. This was after all my ultimate goal ... confidence in and knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System.
Please feel free to bend, mold and shape this game to your teaching style. All you need to do it get excited about the game and let the kids do the rest. If your classes are like mine, they will be asking for months later if they can play the Dewey Game again.
From the first day of classes, when kids ask where an informational book is - say "in number _____" and then guide them there.
Begin preparing for actual game weeks well in advance. Each section takes about 20 minutes, but can be extended to fit your schedule. 15 minutes is the least amount of time that works well. I find that long dry spell between Winter and Spring break is the best time hold this competition.
Note: If you wish, contact community businesses for a gift for your top classes of each grade and prepare certificates. (Consider Burger King or McDonald coupons for top class, book marks for second place and lollipops for 3rd.) Make a certificate of some kind for each class - most enthusiastic, most improved, best teamwork, etc. - something for the class to have in their room. Plan bulletin board which will have a picture of the DDC Champions for school year ... you may want to leave this up somewhere and add to it each year.
Intended Learning Outcomes:
Begin with "when you ask me, where are the drawing books?" And I say -" in 743." What do I mean? What is 743?" Explain why they need to know this both as the basis of game and future usage. Discuss what libraries were like before Dewey:
Dewey said "That's ridiculous. People who come here can read and they know what they want." He devised the DDC using all the subject areas he could think of.
Go over a Dewey poster briefly. Choose any subject and tell them "Here's what I had to learn in library school" (I chose dogs but you can do topic):
Ask "Do you see what's happening? (Hold arms outspread wide and narrow with each statement) "I went from a very wide group and made it narrower and narrower. I can even go domestic animals that are dogs that are working dogs that were born in the US that were born in (your state) that were born in (your) county that were born in (your city) on (school's street or teacher's) on Thursday at 7:30 AM ... if I wanted to." (By this time, fingers are micro-distance apart.)
* Point out "Here is the decimal part of the Dewey Decimal System."
Talk about how elementary schools rarely go past 2 digits; mid/high school usually about 4. In colleges, they use a different system, but the idea is the same. Tell them that they only have to work with the major categories for this game. (I usually tell them "Say Thank you (your name)" here with a big smile. They do with great relief.) Point out this only applies to non-fiction books. During the game, you MIGHT throw in a FIC book just as a trick question. If you do, preface the title with some sort of clue like "OK, Smarties" or "Be careful here" and make certain it is a title you KNOW they have read.
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