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Big surprise: First-ever Kindle Fire!

Kindle Firefavicon I am very pleased to announce the first-ever donation of a Kindle Fire to The Kindle Classroom Project!

Thank you, Raju from Sammamish, Washington! You push me to think about ways that I can incorporate the Kindle Fire into my existing project. I am extremely interested in how best to use the new device.

It’s a big deal, actually. There’s a lot to think about.

After all, the Kindle Fire is a tablet, not just an e-reader. This means it has a backlit display rather than E Ink. It also means a touchscreen rather than physical buttons. And it means apps, games, the Internet, and more.

On the one hand, introducing the Fire will expand students’ reading. Nonfiction would be much easier, for example. It’s easier to subscribe to newspapers and magazines with the Fire. In addition, students could use Pulse or Zite to discover articles to read. Or they could read articles from their Pocket account or Google Reader. In short, whereas the E Ink Kindles limit students to the 178 titles in the Kindle e-book library, the Fire could expose students to a larger world of reading.

On the other hand, the Fire could distract students and take them away from longform reading. This happens to me whenever I try to read on my iPad. Even if I use the excellent Parental Controls (which I will!) and disable several features (like video, apps, the Amazon store, and the Internet), I worry that the Fire may become too much fun for the students. (There should be no fun!) Instead of reading a book for 30 minutes, I am leery that students will jump around from text to text. This would be OK in a social studies class, but that’s not the current goal of my Kindle project. Even though adults tend to bop around while reading, I want to offer an immersive experience and to build my ninth graders’ reading stamina.

Despite my worries, I am super excited about testing out the Fire. Will students gravitate to the tablet because it’s something new (and then get depressed because I’ve disabled many of its features)? Will their reading change or stay the same? Will they prefer the Fire over the E Ink devices? Should the Fire — because it’s unique — become a special reward?

Please let me know your thoughts. Your comments might get emotional! Should I be open to the Fire, or should I remain a E Ink Kindle stickler? Any ideas about how to use this new technology and how it might improve (or endanger!) The Kindle Classroom Projectfavicon


  1. LW

    I like the test it out and assess it approach. It definitely serves as another tool for the students reading task. Whether or not it will be strictly used for that purpose will take monitoring on your part – which you may or may not want to take on.

    • Mark Isero

      Yes, LW, you make good points. I haven’t unveiled the Kindle Fire yet. I’m making sure that I have all the Parental Controls right — which I think I do. I’m not as worried about non-reading and distraction as I am about the “wow” factor of the tablet. Will students with E Ink Kindles find their devices all of a sudden uncool? I hope not!

Please share your brilliant insights!