K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • learn how nonfiction books are arranged on the shelf.
  • practice locating books by their call numbers.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

1 Hours


  • overhead or data projector
  • transparency of worksheet on arranging nonfiction books
  • 9 sets of laminated 3×5 task cards with 10 cards per set, each card having a different nonfiction call number

Technology resources



  • Review the definition of nonfiction.
  • Ask students to point to the area in the media center where nonfiction is located.
  • Review simple definition of the Dewey Decimal System (all the books about science are together, all sports books together, etc.)


  1. Media specialist will project a copy of the worksheet, writing down call numbers as various students give correct order of the call numbers. (see attachment)
  2. Media specialist divides class into groups containing two or three students each. Each group receives a set of cards. Working together, the students arrange the cards in correct Dewey order from left to right. (If time permits, cards may be shuffled and redistributed for more practice.)
  3. Media specialist puts students in pairs and hands each pair a card with call number printed on it. Working together, the two students go to the shelf and locate the book with matching call number. (If book is checked out, they find where the book should be.) This process is repeated until all students have had a chance to go to the shelves.



  • Students should be able to sort cards correctly.
  • Students should be able to locate books on the shelves using call numbers only.

Supplemental information


Related websites



This lesson can be adapted for other grade levels, depending on their background knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System and the nonfiction section of the media center.
The lesson will be much smoother if the classroom teacher or an assistant is available to help monitor the activities. With more than one adult available, most or all of the class can be engaged at the same time in locating books on the shelf.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Information and Technology Skills (2010)
      • Grade 4

        • 4.SI.1 Apply criteria to determine appropriate information resources for specific topics and purposes. 4.SI.1.1 Use various types of resources to gather information (including print and online media). 4.SI.1.2 Use relevant sources of information for an assigned...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Information Skills (2000)

Grade 3

  • Goal 1: The learner will EXPLORE sources and formats for reading, listening, and viewing purposes.
    • Objective 1.08: Select and use independently, both within and outside the school, a variety of resources (print, non-print, electronic) and formats (print, graphical, audio, video, multimedia).