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Classroom Lending Library Is a Hit at La Crosse County Jail
Date: November 04, 2015 09:40AM

Classroom Lending Library Is a Hit at La Crosse County Jail

Do you know a student that has fallen out of the reading for pleasure habit? Are you looking for a way to re-engage students in reading? Would you like to generate enough interest in books with your student population to get a lending library going at your work site? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Willa MacKenzie and Mandy Church-Hoffman, along with Wisconsin Literacy, have some good information for you.

They have developed a successful lending library of popular pleasure-reading books with accompanying discussion questions for the school classroom in the La Crosse County Jail. Mandy compiled the questions from many different sources and put them in a jail-friendly format. Willa developed the simple management structure for the program. As part of a July webinar sponsored by Wisconsin Literacy, Willa was invited to share information about how her students used the lending library in her jail classroom. The format was designed to give teachers and volunteers a look at how they might incorporate her processes into their classroom. They have teamed up with Wisconsin Literacy member agencies and now offer those resources online at the Wisconsin Literacy web site.

A direct link to the recorded webinar can be found at [attendee]. gototraining.com/66d32/recording/858373591396994.

The part that will be of most interest begins at the 18:44 mark. The following is an excerpt from the webinar:

A Day in My Typical Jail Classroom

As students walk into my jail classroom, they place their books in a return box so that I can look through them before putting them back on the shelf. The first 10 minutes of class, students check out books and get their comprehension questions. The posters for different genre are hanging above the comprehension questions. I keep folders, containing the questions, in large plastic file boxes. They are listed alphabetically by author, then by title or as they appear in their trilogy, etc. During this time it is not quiet. They are discussing titles and authors and the day in general as they take turns selecting a book. Once they have their book, they go over to the Book Sign-out Sheet and write down the book title, their name, and the day’s date. They cross off their returned book and write the date that they returned it. This is also a time when I am interacting with students to find out what they need academically to begin their class session. I will hand out poetry worksheets at this time, if I am going to have them write more in their journals. Then class time begins.

The last 10 minutes of class, I write the journal topic of the day on the board and a math problem. Students stay seated and write in their journals, so that I can do any necessary housekeeping chores before they are dismissed. At this time, I might look in the file boxes for a set of comprehension questions for people who were not able to find their sheet of questions at the beginning of class.

There are several students in Willa’s classes that are just beginning to read full length novels for the first time. It is interesting to watch the students choose their books. They look at titles, genre, and authors to select books that might hold an interest to them. They know that there will be comprehension questions with each title and so they make sure the book is one they will read and comprehend. It is important to offer a wide range of books, from graphic novels, to biographies, to dystopias, and to reality fiction. There are peer reviews posted on the wall above the bookshelf to encourage others to read a book that someone else has really enjoyed.

If you want to access the library directly, go to www.wisconsinliteracy.org and log-in with the user name: WILC; password: wislitWILC1. From there choose “Library for Tutors” from the menu on the left. The rest is self-explanatory.

by: Willa MacKenzie, WTC/La Crosse County Jail

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