Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Do we Dewey? We sure do!

One of the great cornerstones of library learning is the introduction to the (insert horn fanfare here) Dewey Decimal System in the fifth grade!  While considered dry by some (and I'd like to know who!!!), I still love to introduce it because not only does it help children navigate the nonfiction section of most any youth library collection, it's the science behind the field of Library Science...the ability to classify information, a skill that transfers to other sciences. Classification of materials also becomes invaluable as a requisite skill in our age of digital curation as well.  Anyone who has spent any time on a computer knows how important it is to organize information in such a way that you can find it again!

After classifying our own shoes and enjoying a Gestalt moment of realizing even the most ordinary things can be organized a multitude of ways, we then discuss the many ways books can be organized.  Our foray into the Dewey Decimal starts with the learning of a mnemonic device,   "Good People Require Speedy Learning, So Try Fine Library Helpers."  The first letter of each word is a hint to the name of a Dewey Decimal category.  I teach all the students to say this phrase while holding up their hands and putting up a finger for every word, starting with no fingers at all.  This little trick matches up the first letter to the first number.  Ask your child to show you!  Here is a handy-dandy cheat sheet:

000  Generalities
100 Philosophy, psychology
200 Religion
300 Social Sciences
400 Languages
500 Science
600 Technology and applied science
700 Fine arts and performing arts
800 Literature
900 History and biography

This is the meat and potatoes of what I'm trying to introduce and all the average Joe and Josephine will be held responsible for, but there's always a few children who catch my hopefully contagious love of Dewey.  For those Junior Librarian types, thanks to the helpful list compiled by the Cambria-Freisland School District they can delve deeper:

000          GENERALITIES
     000              Computers, Loch Ness, Bigfoot, UFOs, Aliens
020              Libraries
030              Encyclopedias & World Record Books
060              Museums
070              Newspapers 
 100          PHILOSOPHY            
     130             Ghosts, Witches & the Supernatural
150             Optical Illusions, Feelings
170              Emotions, Values, Animal Rights 
 200          RELIGION
     220             Bible Stories
290             Mythology, World Religions 
 300          SOCIAL SCIENCES
     300              Social Issues - immigration, racism, World Cultures
310              Almanacs
320              Government
330              Money, Working
340              Court System, Famous Trials
350              Armed Forces – Army, Navy, Air Force, etc.
360              Drugs, Environmental Issues, Titanic, Police, Firefighters
370              Schools
380              Transportation,
390              Holidays, Folktales, Fairy Tales   
 400          LANGUAGES
     410              Sign Language
420              Dictionaries, Grammar
430              German Language
440              French Language
450              Italian Language
460              Spanish Language
490              Hieroglyphics, Japanese Language 
 500          SCIENCE AND MATH
     500              Science Experiments, Science Sets,
510              Mathematics
520              Stars, planets, astronomy, space
530              Physical Science - force & motion, electricity,
magnetism, light
540               Chemistry, Atoms & Molecules, Rocks and Minerals
550               Volcanoes, Earthquakes, Weather, Hurricanes, Tornadoes
    560               Dinosaurs, Prehistoric Animals, Fossils
570               Forests, Rain Forests, Deserts, Mountains, Oceans, Evolution
580               Plants, Flowers & Trees
590               Animals & Insects
592            Worms, Invertebrates
593            Corals, Sea Invertebrates
594            Seashells, Snails, Octopus
595            Insects, Spiders
597            Fish, Frogs, Toads, Reptiles, Amphibians, Snakes
598            Birds
599            Mammals of the Land and Ocean, Whales
    600               Inventions
610               Human body, Health
620               Rockets, Trains, Cars, Trucks
630               Farming, Farm Animals, Cats, Dogs, Pets, Horses
640               Cookbooks, Sewing
650               Secret Codes
660               How Food is made
670               Paper Making
680               Woodworking
690               Building 
 700          ARTS and RECREATION
    710               Art Appreciation, History of Art
720               Houses, Buildings
730               Origami, Paper Crafts
740               Drawing, Crafts,
750               Painting
760               Printing
770               Photography
780               Music
790               Sports, Games, Magic, I Spy, Camping, Fishing, Racing, Hunting 
 800          LITERATURE
    810               Poetry, Plays, Jokes & Riddles
820               Shakespeare
860               Poetry in Spanish
    890               Japanese Poetry, Haiku
    910               Explorers, Atlases
920               Flags, People (Biography)
930               Archeology, Ancient Civilizations
940               Knights, Castles, World War I & II, European Countries
950               Asian & Middle Eastern Countries
960               African Countries
970               North & Central American Countries, Native American Tribes, American History, States
    980               South American Countries
990               Pacific Islands, Australia, Hawaii, Arctic, Antarctica

And kids who are truly Dewey-obsessed can further classify here. Oh la la.  More categories and subcategories than you can shake a YuGiOh card at. 

By request, I am linking to the popular "Dewey Decimal Rap," though I promise that I did introduce the children to the real Melvil Dewey, who created the Dewey Decimal system in the late 1800's.  Alas and according to all credible sources, despite Dewey's many accomplishments and contributions to library science, he was never actually a rapper. Also, it has been pointed out to me repeatedly, the real one had a beard.  The children enjoy it anyway. 

After note-taking, flash cards, scavenger hunts and lots of practice, our unit will culminate in a competitive Jeopardy-style throw-down in which all three fifth grade classes will compete for the honor of winning.  What's the Dewey number for fun?  (Hmmm.  Probably around 794.)

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