How do I know whether the Kindle Classroom Project is going well this year? Well, in the next few weeks, the students will take their mid-year reading assessment, which will give me some idea. I’ll compare the reading gains of students with Kindles vs. those without Kindles. In addition, I’ll compare the number of books that each group has read so far. We’ll see what happens.
Even if the test scores and book totals aren’t perfect, I’ll still know that the Project has been an overwhelming success. Why? It’s easy: I can see it. The ninth graders love reading on their Kindles. As a result, they’re participating in what I call Cute Kindle Moments. Here are a few:
– To prove to students that I meant business, and that they could request titles and I would buy them, I set up a Kindle Book Request Form. My only rule was that you had to complete a book before you requested a new one. Well, Alberto and Jazmin have taken me at my word. Alberto has requested eight books, and Jazmin has requested five. They have good taste, too: Allegiant, Son of Neptune, and Fallen are among the titles they chose.
– I was adding new batteries to Kindle 2s (thank you, donors!), and I noticed that several students have grouped books into collections. The students are making their Kindles their own! And their collections are great. Take a look at the one on the right. This student has created a “Must-Read” collection, and it has 13 books in it! (I would have no problem if he reads all 13 before June!)
– Ninth graders at the school in Hayward completed an Exhibition last Thursday, in which they dressed up and made a presentation on a character in one of the books they’ve read. After the presentation came a question-and-answer session, and one of the most popular questions was, “What books have you read this year, and which one has been your favorite?” The students routinely named 4-8 books, which left their parents and other adults a bit awestruck. (Each student is on track to complete at least 17 books this year.)
– I was reading with the Kindlers at the school in Oakland, and Chase approached me and asked whether I would buy Son of Neptune for him. Within 30 seconds, the book was on his Kindle. I told him, “Good choice! Alberto is reading the same book in Hayward!” Chase smiled, said thank you, and went back to his desk, already reading his new book.
– I was walking down the hallway in between classes in San Francisco, and one student said to her friend, “That’s the Kindle guy.” And then, after a few seconds: “Why didn’t you get a Kindle? You should ask him for one!” Her friend has a Kindle now, too!
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Hope you enjoyed those Cute Kindle Moments. I’m sure there will be many more in the upcoming months. It’s pretty clear to me that this is the first big year of the Kindle Classroom Project. The Kindles are out there, and students are reading more than ever before, and the teachers are invested and running a solid program.
Here are a few more things that seem different this year: (1) Additional reading has resulted calmer and more focused learning environments. The teacher in Oakland — she’s excellent — reports that her students are even farther along this year than last, that they take their work even more seriously, and that they’re able to work independently for longer and have greater stamina. (2) Boys are leading the reading charge. I’ve never seen boys more eager to read. They appreciate the books on the Kindles and seem genuinely surprised that there are so many good titles. (3) When there’s reading in their non-English classes, students don’t moan and groan (as much) as they did last year. When reading is celebrated, reading is fun.
This week, students will take a break and have some time off for Thanksgiving. I am thankful that I get to share my passion for reading with them, and it’s heartwarming that the students are reading so much and grateful for the Kindles. I am also thankful for all the generous donors who have made the Kindle Classroom Project a big success.