Thanks to a generous donor, a seventh Kindle is coming this week.
It’s getting me to think about next steps in integrating Kindles into my curriculum and classroom experience.
Up until now, I’ve used the Kindles primarily to promote free voluntary reading and to help struggling readers who might benefit from the device’s dictionary and text-to-speech feature.
This has been hugely successful.
But as the number of Kindles climbs, I start thinking about what’s possible once more students have access to e-readers.
1. Student book clubs. The social aspect to reading is crucial. Like adults, students like to read books together and talk about them. When I had just a few Kindles, I saved them for specific students with specific needs. As the number of Kindles increases, I don’t have to be as selective.
Kindles are great for book clubs. With print, you’re limited to how many copies of a book you have. With Kindle, every time you buy a book (or borrow one from the library), you automatically get six copies. That means if a group of students wants to form a book club and read the same book, they can do so much more easily. The cost goes way down, as does the time to find the books.
2. Student group projects. Too often, reading in English class is done in isolation, which is exactly what my students don’t need. That’s why I like to get my students engaged in group activities. Print books, however, don’t lend themselves as easily to collaboration, especially when it comes to annotations. Personally, I’m tired of spending tons of money on Post-Its.
With synchronized Kindles, students can highlight text and make annotations that get shared on their peers’ devices. This not only builds a social component to reading, but it also helps students construct meaning together. When students work together on an assignment that involves close reading of a passage, that’s when you build analytical thinking skills.
It’s exciting to think of all the possibilities. I do worry, however, what more Kindles will do to my physical classroom library. After all, more resources will go into purchasing Kindle books because of all their advantages (6-for-1, never lost, never damaged). Does this mean that I’ll buy fewer print books, and if so, will that prevent the tactile experience of discovering new titles? Will my physical books become unread surrogates for their electronic counterparts? (My gut is saying that my students won’t care about this and will instead reply, “Don’t worry. Just get us more Kindles.”)