I am here to say that I embrace Dewey, my students are engaged learning the system and at the end of it all, they end up teaching other students and parents how it works.
The DDC is a great way to get kids thinking about systems. By the time my students reach 3rd and 4th grade when I explicitly teach the system, they have heard me say “Follow me over to the 636s…you’ll find your dog books there”, or “Come over to the 398.2s…the folktales live there” hundreds of times, so the seed is planted. They already know that non-fiction books are arranged by what they’re about, and now they are going to learn the basic ins and outs of the system.
Over the years I gave found that hands on activities are the way to go. I have collected various objects and dumped them on the ground and told the students to sort. I have taped the main categories to the wall, shown the students a picture and asked them to move their bodies to the category they thought suited the picture best (and justify their answer, of course). And this year, the students were broken up into small groups and asked to develop commercials convincing others to “C’mon down to the 600s!” Not only are these activities fun, but they get students thinking about DDC as a system, and more importantly talking about it.
Did I come up with all of these ideas on my own? Of course not. I found the commercial idea, and sorting book idea online. I tweaked them to fit my audience and moved on from there. Fourth graders were treated to the Melvil Dewey Rap (which I found via the ALSC Blog!), and now we have a student who wants to perform it in front of the school.
So no…Dewey is not dead. Not in my book.