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Organizing the Web in 3 not-so-perfect ways: Inbox by Gmail, Save to Google, Google Keep

favicon Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Everyone uses Google to search, but what happens after you find something good? There are a ton of options, and now Google is offering choices, too.

Over the past couple weeks, Google has released three new products:

Inbox by Gmail– Inbox by Gmail Extension. This extension allows you to save links to a bundle in Inbox by Gmail. This might be good for you if (a) you already use Inbox by Gmail and (b) you tend to save and organize links by sending them to your email. What’s not great, though, is that I don’t think you can send those links to friends once they’re in Inbox. (You can send them directly from the extension.)

Save to Google. This extension lets you save and organize webpages from your computer to a dedicated bookmarks page, google.com/save. You can add tags and notes, plus you can view your links on your phone. (But you can’t add new links from your phone.) Again, the biggest weakness of this extension is that you can’t share those links later on (unless you go back to the original webpage, of course).

Google KeepSave to Keep. This extension allows you to save links as new notes in Google Keep. If you already like Keep (I sort of do), this might be a good option. Once a link is a note in Keep, you can share it with friends (especially if they use Keep, too). The bad news, though, is that links are hard to organize easily, though the service now allows you to add hashtags easier (#) via phone.

While it’s nice to see that Google is taking some steps to help us organize the internet, I have to say, I’m not really sure what the company is doing. Each of these products offer just a tidbit of the entire puzzle. For people who don’t want to keep tons of tabs open, and who don’t want to keep sending links to their email, there has to be an easy way to save-organize-share. Right now, Google is not providing those three basic features. favicon

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Upgrading to the Kindle Oasis? Donate your used Kindle to students in the SF Bay Area!

favicon I admit it: Though I have no reason to, I’ll be buying the new Kindle Oasis.

Kindle Oasis 3

My Kindle Voyage is fine. And so is my Kindle Keyboard. But I’ve owned every single Kindle since the Kindle 2, and there’s no stopping me. Despite the steep $289 price tag, I’ll be getting an Oasis when it comes out later this month.

It turns out that I’m not alone. A couple days ago, I read that 41 percent of Kindle sales come from current Kindle owners. This means that there are millions of used Kindles in people’s homes across the country, ready to be given away — to partners, children, grandchildren, and friends.

In case you’ve already saturated your friends and families with your previous Kindles, you should consider donating your latest device to students in Oakland and San Francisco.

I run the Kindle Classroom Project, a program that promotes the love and power of reading. Students get a Kindle and anytime access to a library of 730+ books, along with the right to request new books they like. With the KCP, students read what they want, where they want, whenever they want.

Kindles encourage young people to read more because good books are always in their hands.

If you’re interested in donating your old Kindle, check out testimonials from students and teachers. And once you’re convinced, head over to the Donate page to take the next step. Thank you for donating your Kindle, and enjoy your Oasis (as will I)! favicon

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What the KCP Means to Me:

Laurin | Oakland, California

Laurin-KCPfavicon I have had my Kindle for about 2 months and I love it. At the beginning, you don’t know what to read because there’s so much to choose from. Choosing just one book seems impossible — well, it was for me!

I love the Kindle program because it allows you the opportunity to choose among hundreds of books, books that you probably wouldn’t be able to read because you can’t afford them or you can’t find. The KCP is a great opportunity to read a variety of books, from romance to comedy. Any genre you want to read, the Kindle has it.

I really have enjoyed my Kindle, I have been reading series over series since I got my Kindle. My reading speed has increased because of how I have being reading over this month. I have cried, laughed, and even gotten mad when I read, and that is because reading has become such a constant thing that I read many books with different plots. Each plot extends my imagination and allows me to grow as a reader.

I recommend the Kindle to everyone. It’s such a great device. You just get so much enjoyment from just one tiny little thing. Because of the Kindle, my passion for reading has returned, and I am more eager than ever to read as many books as possible in one day. By far the Kindle program is AMAZING. Everyone should try it! favicon

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What the KCP Means to Me:

Grace | Oakland, California

facebook-picturefavicon I’m really glad I get to be a part of the Kindle Classroom Project! When I first heard about the Kindle Classroom Project, I thought it was an awesome idea that would give students opportunities to read throughout the school year and would offer easier access to books for students who do not have the time to check out books at libraries.

As a student, and especially as a senior, I am always busy. I have to juggle work while balancing my busy schedule at school and outside of it. However, I enjoy those precious moments where I can kick back, relax, and read on my Kindle.

During Spring Break, I was surprised how much of a bookworm I’ve become. I’ve been reading so many interesting books (such as Legend and The Young Elites by Marie Lu). I’ve been a huge bookworm in the past, but I’ve never really had time to read because I was preoccupied with other stuff. It would also be a hassle to go to the library and borrow books.

My Kindle, however, feels like a mini-library that I can carry around anytime: in my backpack, my purse, or in my hand. There is a huge library full of books to choose from within my Kindle, and I’ve discovered so many interesting books to read!

Thanks to the Kindle Classroom Project, I have rediscovered my joy of reading! I thank the supporters and teachers who have made the Kindle Classroom Project possible! Thank you for your support! favicon

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Recommended Reading: “In San Jose, Poor Find Doors to Library Closed”

favicon Most of the white, college-educated, middle-class, similarly-aged people I know have warm memories of their local public library when they were kids. These memories usually involve walking or biking to the library, checking out tons of books, and getting an ice cream cone on the way home. For many Americans, the public library is a personal sanctuary, a haven for knowledge, and a treasure of our democracy.

Not everyone, however, shares those sentiments. When I taught in San Francisco, my students told me over and over again that they had a more complicated relationship with their local public library. It didn’t feel comfortable or welcoming. I asked them why they felt that way, and the No. 1 answer was, They were afraid of library fines.

In a recent New York Times piece, reporter Carol Pogash assails the San Jose Public Library’s policies regarding late fees, lost materials, and checkout privileges. The library faces $6.8 million in unpaid fines. Its late fee is 50 cents per day per item. It prohibits checking out additional materials if people owe more than $10. And it uses a collection agency to recoup debts in excess of $50.

In “In San Jose, Poor Find Doors to Library Closed,” Ms. Pogash does not pull punches. She interviews young people who say their moms don’t allow them to check out books. One mom tells her daughter, “Don’t take books out. It’s so expensive.”


The article goes on to explore how the San Jose Public Library is not alone in its aggressive policies. For example, Texas allows its libraries to take delinquent patrons to court. Though I understand that libraries face tough challenges, particularly when a majority of people do not return books on time, current practice does not seem to be the right way to go.

Obviously, I do have bias because of my interest in the Kindle Classroom Project. Just to be clear, I love public libraries, especially the San Francisco Public Library and the Oakland Public Library. Libraries need to exist, and they do good things. Still, one thing I’ve learned since founding the KCP is how important it is to decrease barriers to reading. (Books are best in young people’s hands.) Rather than keeping track of tons of books each year, students check out and return just two items: their Kindle and their charger. Simple as cake. (Loss and breakage to Kindles is just 3.1%.)

“SAN JOSE, Calif. — When Damaris Triana, then 8, lost several “Little Critter” books that she had borrowed for her sister, the library here fined her $101 — including $40 in processing fees — a bill that was eventually turned over to an agency to collect from her parents.”

Source: http://j.mp/1qkXjdO (via Pocket). You can also find this article in next week’s Iserotope Extras, a weekly email newsletter that includes my favorite articles about teaching, reading, and technology. Feel free to subscribe! favicon

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TEACHER VOICES: Marni Spitz, #10

Concert-Going Tiger Nikes

favicon Last week I did something few teachers do on a school night: I went to a concert. Gassssspp!!!!  I know, right?!? I’m so BRAVE. After a day of school, I entered the extremely dangerous territory of Summer Marn. This means:

  1. Indie and NikesI was around people after 7 pm.
  2. I was making decisions after 7:30 pm. Things like: Where should we stand to get the best seat? Which shoes should I wear so I could look like someone cool enough to go to a concert on a weeknight. (I went with my Tiger Nikes, pictured here with Indie. These are her favorite too).
  3. And lastly, I didn’t get home until 11 pm. Excuse me, Ms. Spitz. What do you think this is?? July??!?!

Turns out the concert was amazing and so well worth it, but I definitely paid for it the next day. In fact, by 8:31 am, I remembered so palpably why Summer Marn can only make school year appearances every so often. It was at this moment when one of my Reading Labbers raised his hand with an extremely concerned look on his face during SSR:

“Ms. Spitz–are you okay??”
“Yeah Kenny! I’m fine! Why? What’s wrong??”
“Are you sure? Because you look sick.”

I think by “sick” he meant someone cool enough to go to a concert on a school night.

Up to that moment, the last 9 hours in my mind had looked something like this:

11:04 pm: I’m in bed. You did it! Way to go, early Summer Marn! But you have to go to sleep. Oh my gosh, you’re going to be so tired if you don’t go to sleep. It’s going to be so hard to be on for 6th period, and you’re supposed to meet with Unique for homework help at lunch. OK, I, Marni Spitz, am going to show the world that I can go to things on a school night! Like the teachers do in New Girl! And How I Met Your Mother!

11:34 pm: Oh my gosh Marni. Why aren’t you asleep? Did you leave the copies for Period 1 on your desk or in the copy room? Okay. Sleeping. I think it was the copy room….

12:01 pm: I am asleep.

4:02 am: Shoot! Did I remember to plug in the Chromebooks yesterday? When is Karina’s scholarship letter due again?

4:12 am: I am asleep.

6:02 am: My alarm rings. I press snooze.  

6:06 am: But the Chromebooks! I turn off snooze and reluctantly but assertively WAKE UP.

Rise and Shine, girl. Rise. and. shine.

6:51 am: Later start today. I feel good. I did this. I got my lunch. Where’s my water bottle? Don’t forget to grab some extra granola bars (Trevor and Gaby will like these), and my vitamins. Because you can’t just go to concerts on school nights and not take vitamins.

7:02 am: Pick up a coffee (because it’s a treat-yourself post-concert morning, right?). (I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was a teacher. I went 23 years without it. Just saying.)

7:22 am: Arrive at  school. Drop off my lunch in the fridge. Say hi to our AP in his office and to the few students who have beat me there.

“Morning guys! Happy Tuesday!” Smile. Sip Coffee. Repeat.

I walk up the stairs to my classroom, which is uncharted territory as Summer Marn.

7:26 am: En route, I say hi to Charlie, a 9th grader who is always my morning greeter. “Did you watch the Oscars Ms. Spitz??”

“I most certainly did!!! Leo FOREVA!” I want to be so excited about this. But I’m tired.


7:37 am: Copy Machine Party Time. Weekly strong start charts, check. Homework packet, check. Stapled, double-sided, three-hole punched, CHECK.


COPY MACHINE DOWN. I REPEAT, COPY MACHINE DOWN. Darn it. I knew I should’ve never gone to that concert. This is what you get, Marni.

Five minutes later…

I locate the paper culprit and the jam is gone. Crisis Averted. Copy Mania continues.

Clif Bar7:47 am: Run back to my room to grab a Clif Bar. Do I go with peanut butter crunch? Blueberry crisp? Did I change the date on the homework packet? I wonder if I need to change Alicia’s seat. I have to remember to call Chris’s grandma after school. Did Ravyn ever tell me the due date of her letter of rec?  

Bite into the peanut butter crunch: Oh yeah. Breakfast of Champions. This is what people who go to concerts do. They eat their breakfasts, and they grab their whiteboard eraser and get that board ready for another great day. Of all the morning rituals I have, my whiteboard prep is seriously one of my favorites. Except on this particular post-concert morning, my handwriting was not its finest. I was not minding my P’s and Q’s.

7:55 am: Open the door for my morning buddies to enter.

Today it is MaryAnn and Pricila. “Hi gals! How was your night?”

“Ugh Ms. Spitz-We’re tired.”

“Me too,” I say. Me too! (Sipping coffee aggressively). Deciding whether or not I tell them I went to the concert. Would that make me look irresponsible? Turns out they don’t ask, so I leave it be.

But I’m also trying to write on whiteboard. Should I write the date in blue or green? Or wait, bright pink?

Kiere excitedly enters room. “Ms Spitz!!! Did you catch that Warriors game last night?!?!!? Did you see that overtime??!!? Man oh man!”

Although I’m not quite ready to match his energy level, I do my best: “I heard it was quite the game!!! What do you think about their record??”

We continue to talk about the offense and Curry and all things Warrior basketball.

My Clif Bar remains half-eaten. Breakfast of half-eaten, concert-going champions.

8:10 am: I’m writing the objective.  Evaluate or Explain? Determine? Identify? Ugh, evaluate. Yep, stick with evaluate. Pricila and Maryann want to continue to tell me how tired they are. As they are venting, I struggle with some additional early am decisions:

What was my Do Now again? Should we do the film clip before or after we do the reading? Should I write the date in red or bright pink? Bright pink wins.

8:12: Jason comes in asking for some help on his homework. “Sure, honey.”

We read. He writes. He finishes. Have a great day, J! And off he goes.

8:21 am: I sprint to the restroom.

8:24 am: The first warning bell is going to  ring. Crap! My copies!!! I’ve got my concert-going Tiger Nikes. I got this. I sprint to the copy machine.

8:25 am and 31 seconds: Made it to my front door just in time for the first bell.

“Hi guys! Good morning Gustavo. Hi Alejandro! How’s it going Nyrisha! Hi Kasandra!! Did you finish your book?”

8:30 am: Final bell rings. The day is underway. Phew. “Okay guys! Here we go….Let’s get our books open….”

8:31 am: “Ms. Spitz–are you okay??”

“Yeah Kenny! I’m fine! Why? What’s wrong??”

“Are you sure? Because you look sick.”

I think by sick he meant someone cool enough to go to a concert on a school night.  And someone who had learned a couple of important lessons:

  1. It’s important to wear comfortable shoes both as a teacher and a concert-goer.
  2. Summer Marn is super fun—but won’t be making another appearance for a while. Say perhaps, June. When it’s summer. And she can return to her cannon-balling in front of Dwyane Wade ways. favicon


Ed. note: Marni Spitz teaches U.S. History and Reading Lab at City Arts and Technology High School in San Francisco. Donate to Marni’s classroom!

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Say hi to the KCP’s 700th book!

favicon Just last month, the Kindle Classroom Project reached 700 Kindles, and just a few minutes ago, the KCP added its 700th book.

The KCP’s 700th book is The Rose Society, by Marie Lu.

The Rose Society

Congratulations to Grace (Oakland, CA) for requesting it! (Nearly all books in the Kindle Library are requested by students.)

I’d like to thank KCP students for requesting excellent books and KCP supporters for donating the funds to make it possible to purchase those excellent books.

Let’s keep going! favicon