Leveling my classroom library was the best decision I ever made as a teacher. My paraprofessional actually did it all for me two years ago using Google ("book name+ guided reading level) and this conversion chart. My library went from barely-used to constantly used, all thanks to a few stickers and a strategy.
After I level students at the start of the year, I tell them what color books they should be reading. I just assign a color to a grade level (ex: 6th grade reading level=blue) The colors in my room correspond with our Storytown Leveled Readers. The students don't know what the colors mean, but it helps me ensure that the kid who reads at a second grade level doesn't waste time in class with a level Z book. They can read whatever book and color outside of class that they want, but in class, they need to read books at their instructional level.
This helps because it narrows down the selection of "Just Right" books for every student. Students have a smaller selection of good books- so they can choose books more efficiently. Kids hardly ever chose books from my unorganized, unleveled classroom library before, but with a simple direction: "You can choose from any of the yellow books." Kids devour books in my library.
Another great thing about leveling your library and using my labels is that you can see, at a glance, where the gaps in your library are. If you have way fewer books of a certain grade level, when it's book order time, you can choose more books for that color. AND if you run out of blue realistic fiction labels, but haven't used any blue science fiction labels, you know exactly what you need and don't need!
It's a little frustrating to have to re-level all of the new books in my library (since my classroom burned down last weekend,) but a couple of good things came out of the situation:
1. I made cuter labels for the new books, which you can have for free:
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2. I get to pick new, high-interest books for my library with the fundraiser money from my school and the Bonus Points program from Scholastic!
That has been pretty fun.
If you feel like helping my class recover from the fire, please consider donating to my DonorsChoose project. IF YOU DONATE BY MONDAY AND TYPE, "INSPIRE," Donors Choose will double your dollar! They are matching donations for my classroom until Monday only!
P.S.- Here's a special thanks to Tiffany- a very generous follower who got my project well on its way to being funded. Thanks so much Tiffany!! It means so much to my class! We are really, really missing our leveled book sets!