What Does Dewey Do With Science?

Presented by: Mariah Prentiss

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Grade Level(s):


As an introduction to the science units they will study over the year, fifth-grade students will search for science titles that interest them. Students will learn how the Dewey Decimal system works to give each book its place in the library. Students will focus in on the 500-599 call number range learning the topics and sub-topics of science. Once individual students choose a book they will complete a worksheet. The worksheet will ask them to consider if the topic has personal relevance to their life, (ie; watching a meteor shower, experiencing a hurricane, visiting a museum, etc.) what interests them about the topics and answer several questions about what science topics and subtopics apply to the book. The chosen books will be put in call number order and the class will discuss how each book is fits in the related call number range. Each student will share one "most interesting" fact about their topic and discuss their personal interest in the topic.

Goals & Objectives:

Instructional Goals:

Students will…


Learning Objectives: 

Students will be able to…


Motivational Goals:





Teacher Librarian opens lessons with a science experiment/trick performance to stimulate interest.  Teacher follows with a question about how the trick was possible. After hearing students’ ideas teacher explains that all of the explanations are scientific. Teacher introduces the upcoming year of science lessons making the point that science is fun and interesting.



Teacher will explain that they cover a lot of things this year in science – life, physical, and earth sciences. “Throughout year we will sometimes come to the library or use resources in the classroom from the library. Those resources will often be pulled off the same shelf – they live next to each other.  You may have noticed that if you have particular interests you may be drawn to a certain shelf over and over – maybe you like origami so you go to that shelf over and over.”     


Teacher Librarian gives a lesson on the Dewey Decimal system.  Call on kids to give suggestions of topics to locate within Dewey…..Teacher Librarian asks if anyone knows where Science books can be found on the shelf. “Do you know the call numbers? Well that’s what we’re going to talk about today. The range is 500-599. There are two areas of the library you can find that same range – Reference and Non-Fiction sections – you may search in either. Today you are going to search the range to find a book you are interested in – if you pick a book that is about a big topic you may have to narrow It down (animals narrowed to cougars; natural disasters narrowed to hurricanes).


Review searching the Table of Contents and the Index of a book to find topics and subtopics. Review searching on OPAC. Give students option of using OPAC or browsing the shelves for this assignment.


Students will fill in strip of 11x17 paper with title and call number of their book and hand to Teacher Librarian. Students will complete “What does Dewey have to do with science?” worksheet. The worksheet will ask them to find three facts, consider if the topic has personal relevance to their life, (ie; watching a meteor shower, experiencing a hurricane, visiting a museum, etc. ) answer what interests them about the topic, and answer several questions about what science topics and subtopics apply to the book.



When students enter library (second day for lesson) their strips of paper representing their title’s spine will be hanging in call number order on a clothesline.  Teacher Librarian will lead discussion about how the titles are related - which science topics and subtopics are represented. Students will move to sit in the same call number order and their strip of paper will then be clothespinned to their shirt.


Teacher will hand back their worksheets from the previous class.  Then, beginning with the call number closest to 500, each student will share their “most interesting” fact and share their personal interest/connection to the topic.


In closing the Teacher will name the science topics the class will be covering during the year. Students will be encouraged to explore the other interesting topics on their own time.  




Qualitative and Quantitative

- Students will complete worksheet requiring understanding of the Dewey Decimal System.

- Students will share their "most interesting" fact and their personal interest/connection to the topic with the class.

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