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Free Kindle Books & Tips endorses the KCP

favicon Imagine my joy when I received an email message a few days ago from Michael Gallagher, who runs the extremely popular blog Free Kindle Books & Tips (fkbt.com), with more than 125,000 regular readers.

Mr. Gallagher was reaching out because he was writing a post to encourage his readers to donate their used Kindles. Would the Kindle Classroom Project be interested in being featured?

I said, Of course!

Little did I know that the KCP was going to be Mr. Gallagher’s exclusive recommendation for his readers’ used Kindles — that is, until I read the post early this morning. Please take a look! It’s entitled, “Donate Your Used Kindle.”

I’m very grateful for the post. Mr. Gallagher does an excellent job introducing his readers to the KCP and offering ways they can learn more. It is evident that Mr. Gallagher has built a strong readership that focuses on helping people make their Kindle experience better, including being informed of the best free and discounted books. I recommend that you check out the blog, and if you’re interested, subscribe to the FKBT daily email digest.

Update: Less than 12 hours since FKBT’s post went live, five people have already submitted their Kindles for donation. I’ve changed the Donate Kindle form so that FKBT readers can let me know how they heard about the KCP. I have a feeling that the Kindle Classroom Project is going to be expanding as a result of Mr. Gallagher’s generosity. Thank you! favicon

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Introducing The Highlighter!

favicon I like to read a lot: books, articles, and everything in between. Since 2012, I’ve published some of my favorite articles on education on Iserotope and talked about them. Then I began bundling the articles into a collection, Iserotope Extras, that readers could access anytime. (This led to this screencast, which demonstrated my extreme enthusiasm about the new feature.)

A few years later, in 2015, Iserotope Extras migrated to a weekly email digest, published every Thursday morning. In addition, the scope of Extras broadened to include articles on race, education, and culture.

The digest has been growing since then. The first issue had just two subscribers, and 80 issues later, there are 115 readers (slow and steady, similar to the Kindle Classroom Project). The digest is alive and well.

I’m therefore happy to announce that Iserotope Extras is now The Highlighter. Take a look at the new nameplate!

Every week, I highlight 4-6 articles that I think you’ll love. Coming soon, you’ll be able to see my highlights to these highlighted articles. (Here’s a sample.) The long-term idea is not only to share high-quality writing but also to invite you to read these articles with me, as part of an “article club,” or a nonfiction reading community.

If you’re not yet a subscriber, check out last week’s issue, or take a look at the archives. You can sign up at either place! If you are already a subscriber, thank you, and please leave your comments here! favicon

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Megabook Initiative donates 36 Kindles!

favicon I thought Karen-Alexandra Nogues was donating one Kindle when she completed the Donate Kindle form last week. It turns out that Ms. Nogues, founder and executive director of Megabook Initiative, intended on donating 36 Kindles!

Thank you very much for this wonderful and generous donation.

Megabook Initiative believes that today’s readers are tomorrow’s leaders. The program distributes devices to children in places where access to books is limited, including Ivory Coast and Togo. Ms. Nogues understands the importance of reading and found the Kindle Classroom Project through its partnership with Worldreader.

Here’s an interview with Ms. Nogues about Megabook Initiative. It’s a few years old, when Ms. Nogues was a senior in high school. Now she attends Harvard University and will graduate next year.

I’m impressed with Ms. Nogues, her commitment to young people, and her ability to explain clearly the importance of reading. We believe in many of the same things!

I look forward to getting these 36 Kindles ready for students in Oakland and San Francisco. Maybe they’ll go to ninth grade teacher Shannon, who maintains a robust physical classroom library and is ready for a Kindle pilot. favicon

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Please read: “Our School,” by Lauren Markham

favicon “Our School” is the best article on education that I’ve read in a very long time. Lauren Markham reports on the new curriculum in Alaska’s North Slope Borough School district, home of the Iñupiat people. It is a story of how a community can rebuild its educational system in order to decolonize, resuscitate, and heal.

If you are an educator, or if you care about education, there are many connections here. It will push you to think again about the big questions, like: What is education for? and Why do I teach? This article will be well worth your time.

Excerpt
“THE ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL education system in the United States fails people on the margins of society—whether it is impoverished communities in Appalachia, immigrants in Baltimore, African Americans in Chicago, or First Nations from New Mexico to Alaska. Free and universal education pretends to be our democracy’s great equalizer—but the system was made by and for a certain subset of people decidedly not on the margins. It can perpetuate inequality while intending, or pretending, to do away with it.”

You can read the article here: http://j.mp/2k6Dt4d. There’s also a chance that it’ll be included in Iserotope Extras, a weekly email digest that includes my favorite articles about race, education, and culture. Feel free to subscribe! favicon

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Please listen: “How The Systemic Segregation Of Schools Is Maintained By Individual Choices,” featuring Nikole Hannah-Jones

favicon Nikole Hannah-Jones is my favorite journalist and my second-favorite famous person (after Bryan Stevenson). Here she is being interviewed by Terry Gross for Fresh Air (~45 mins) about school segregation and her article, “Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City” (from Extras #46). Ms. Hannah-Jones argues that segregation will continue to exist in our country “as long as individual parents continue to make choices that only benefit their own children.” (Want more NHJ? Check out Extras #47, Extras #65, and Extras #4 — her gut-wrenching This American Life piece from July 2015.)

Excerpt
“One of the things I’ve done in my work is show the hypocrisy of progressive people who say they believe in equality, but when it comes to their individual choices about where they’re going to live and where they’re going to send their children, they make very different decisions.”

You can read the article here: http://j.mp/2jejEqu. There’s also a chance that it’ll be included in Iserotope Extras, a weekly email digest that includes my favorite articles about race, education, and culture. Feel free to subscribe! favicon

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The Kindle Classroom Project is expanding.

Would you like to volunteer to help out?

favicon Lately, when people hear about the Kindle Classroom Project, they want to know more about my “team.” They use the second-person-plural, as in, “How do you all manage more than 1,000 Kindles?” They’re shocked when I tell them the KCP is a one-person operation (plus a kind army of friends and family who work tirelessly at Kindle Parties).

To regain their composure, they ask, “So you do this full time, then?” It’s a common question. A new teacher at Envision Academy assumed that when students called me “the Kindle guy,” that meant running the KCP was my job. Nope. All the work I do on the Kindle Classroom Project is done outside of business hours.

I humbly announce that it’s time to ask for some help.

With the recent donation of 458 Kindles (thank you, Worldreader!), the size and scope of the program have exploded. The demand is high, too. In just a few weeks, I’m beginning a pilot in three new schools in Oakland. Two additional schools want whole-school implementation in the 2017-18 school year. The sky’s the limit.

About 100 Kindles, part of the gargantuan Worldreader donation.

With all this growth, I’m coming to terms on two things: (1) I no longer can do this alone; (2) I can’t pay anyone (yet) to help me.

Therefore, Would you like to volunteer for the Kindle Classroom Project? If you love to read, and if you care about the reading lives of young people in Oakland and San Francisco, you could be a great match. Why not try it out?

The KCP needs help in the following areas:

Buying books for students. Students request books every day. The KCP’s pledge is to honor their request by the next day. This means checking the website every night, buying books on Amazon (with funds donated by generous KCP supporters), and notifying the student of the good news. If you’re interested in helping out with book buying, you would need a computer and 15 minutes a day.

Prepping donated Kindles for students. Kindles arrive from across the country every day, and it takes about 10-20 minutes to prep each one for students. This job involves resetting the Kindle to factory settings, setting up parental controls, adding the Kindle to the website, and a few other secret steps. If you’re interested in prepping Kindles, you would need a computer and about 1-2 hours a week.

(Perhaps) helping to build a nonprofit organization. If you have a legal background and can assist with whether it makes sense if the Kindle Classroom Project becomes a 501c3 nonprofit organization, that would be very helpful, too. I know that there are pros and cons to moving in this direction, so it would be great to get some professional advice.

Please let me know if you’re interested in any of these volunteer opportunities! Let me know by sending me a note: the easiest way is clicking on the “Email us” button in the lower-right corner of this page. Thank you. With your help, the KCP can keep growing in 2017 and meeting the reading needs of Bay Area students! favicon

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Worldreader donates 458 Kindle Keyboards! This is the largest donation in KCP history.

favicon I am very happy to announce that Worldreader, a powerhouse nonprofit that spreads literacy in developing countries in order to create a world where everyone is a reader, has donated 458 Kindle Keyboards to the Kindle Classroom Project.

That’s not a typo: 458 is the correct number.

Thank you, Worldreader!

Um, that’s a lot of Kindles. In fact, this donation is the biggest in KCP history, more than double the 2015 gift of 210 Kindles from an anonymous supporter.

Here’s just one box of the massive donation (there are about 100 Kindles here):

And here are the rest of the 458 Kindles, plus hordes of cases and sleeves and chargers, in the back of my Honda Fit.

I’m blown away by the enormity of this donation and by the generosity of Worldreader. It is a transformative gift for the Kindle Classroom Project.

  • It increases the number of Kindles in the KCP by 50 percent (from 918 to 1,376),
  • It means that an entire new school can join the KCP,
  • It pushes my thinking about the next steps of the KCP.

Even more impressive than the massive gift was the kindness of the Worldreader staff throughout the donation process. One day last month on LinkedIn I received a message from Zev Lowe, senior director at Worldreader. Could the KCP use some Kindles? he asked. And would you like to come by to speak to the team? Sure!

It was wonderful to meet the Worldreader staff, get a tour of its San Francisco operations (thank you, Ryan Lew), meet founder David Risher, and answer questions about the KCP. (We opted for an informal Q and A session, rather than a formal presentation, though I did come with some slides — see below!) Everyone was kind, smart, and like-minded. Their commitment to promoting reading among young people in the developing world is unparalleled, and they were impressed with the KCP community of students, teachers and supporters.

Since my visit, I’ve spent a lot of time charging Kindles, getting ready for the Winter Kindle Party (it’s on Jan. 22, want to come? please sign up here!), and staying in touch with Worldreader. Everyone continues to be kind and helpful. For example, content director Danielle Zacarias volunteered her time to share her deep knowledge about publishers and digital book distribution, which was invaluable. Thank you!

I’ll keep you posted on what happens with this colossal donation — how I prep them for students, which teachers and students get them, and what it all means for the KCP. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments. Thank you again, Worldreader! favicon

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Kindle Classroom Project:

Any book, anytime, anywhere

favicon A few weeks ago, I reported that students in the Kindle Classroom Project were reading over Thanksgiving Break. Well, the reading is continuing over Winter Break, too!

Students are reading and finishing books, and they’re requesting new ones. Thanks to generous KCP supporters ($390 in donations just this week!), I’m able to honor students’ requests, no matter when they send them to me — morning, noon, or night!

The KCP believes that students should be able to read any book, anytime, anywhere. This means books that they want to read, not that they’re told to read. This means mornings before school, evenings after school, weekends, Thanksgivings, winter breaks, and summers. And this means at home, on the bus, at their grandparents’ house—and everywhere in between.

Here is just a snapshot of the reading that is happening right now:

I continue to be pleasantly surprised about how much science fiction and fantasy that KCP students in Oakland are devouring. This is Kaleka’s third year in the program, and she has no problem requesting books she wants to read. In fact, a few days ago, she emailed me in a panic that Zodiac was not appearing on the Kindle. (It was my mistake, which I fixed.) I love receiving Kaleka’s reviews and kind words about the KCP.

I was very happy to see that Maria made a request today of Eleanor and Park, a popular title among KCP students. (The license limit had been reached.) Sometimes, Maria feels shy to request new books, but her adviser and I keep on reminding her that the KCP is about reading and that Maria shouldn’t feel bashful.

Stephen just received his Kindle Fire a few months ago. I helped him set it up, plus I showed him the website, and it didn’t take long until he became a voracious reader. Now he is feeling comfortable requesting books; Calamity is his latest choice. Good thing KCP sustaining supporter Nicole (Quincy, MA) pledged a recurring Amazon Allowance. (Thank you!) Stephen knows that Nicole has his back.

Is this all as uplifting to you as it is to me? If it is, I have a button for you to press!




What’s great about donating to the Kindle Classroom Project is that 100% of your gift (after PayPal’s fee — if you want to avoid it, go here) goes to buying books that students want. These are not books that I think students might like; these aren’t books for whole-class novel study; these aren’t “good-for-you” books that students “should read.” Rather, these are books that students request, 100%.

Your gift also doesn’t go to administrative costs, like keeping up this website, or sending you a thank-you card, or the hours of work volunteers will put in at the Kindle Prep Party next month (want to come?). It goes to a student who gets to choose a book.

And then a few more cool things happen once the student gets the book they’ve requested. The book is never lost; it never goes missing; it never gets destroyed through over-reading; and it’s shared with all the students in the Kindle Classroom Project. In other words, your donation is a permanent one to students in Oakland and San Francisco.

If you’re maybe interested in donating but not quite sure, feel free to contact me. There’s an “Email Us” button at the bottom right of the screen. Have a great Winter Break! favicon