Summer is a great time to reflect, take stock, and figure out next steps for the Kindle Classroom Project. Because so many of you are generous donors to the project, and you like to know what I’m doing, I just wanted to write a few of my ideas so that you know what I’m considering.
First, the things that definitely will be happening:
1. In just a few weeks, the 156 (and counting) Kindles will be in five schools: City Arts & Technology High School (San Francisco), Leadership High School (San Francisco), Envision Academy of Arts & Technology (Oakland), REALM Charter School (Berkeley), and Impact Academy of Arts & Technology (Hayward).
2. Like last year, I’ll be working with excellent teachers and administrators who care as deeply about students and their reading lives as I do. The list is not final yet, but some of those educators include Marni Spitz (CAT); Michele Godwin, Beth Silbergeld, and Kathleen Large (Leadership); Nancy Jo Turner (REALM); and Tess Lantos and Abby Benedetto (Impact).
Next, the things that most likely will be happening:
1. The 501-title Kindle Library will be organized by genre and available online on Iserotope for teachers, students, parents, and YOU! to view. This is going to be an important step for book browsing and discovery.
Up until now, students had access to all the books in the Kindle Library, but there wasn’t a very good way for students to browse. Sometimes they’d find a new title by window shopping the classroom library, none of which yet contain a truly mirrored experience of all 501 Kindle titles. Other times they’d get recommendations from their teacher or their friends.
If I work hard, I can get the new Kindle Library catalog up and running before the first day of classes. It’ll be a major improvement.
2. Students from all five schools will log their reading on one unified Google Form. This will help me gather important data. For example: who’s reading a lot vs. a little, which books are most popular, and whether the Kindles are making a difference.
Up until this year, I have had a good sense of what students were reading, but the process wasn’t always simple and streamlined. Now everyone (including YOU!) will be able to look at the reading progress of students. (Don’t worry: No last names will be published.)
Finally, the things I hope will be happening:
1. My first hope is to tell more stories, involve students and teachers more in those stories, do some interviews, and overall do a better job documenting the successes of the KCP. It’s time that YOU! get to experience all the good news that I get to experience every day.
To that end, I am excited to announce that I will be inviting my collaborating teachers to become guest bloggers. Whether they write just one time or regularly, I think it’s absolutely essential to get their voices out there. For teachers who are too busy or shy to write, I’ll be sure to encourage them to do video and audio interviews.
And why stop at the teachers? Wouldn’t it be great to meet some of the Kindlers? I think it’s time. If I get the appropriate permission from schools and families, I would love to put more student stories up on Iserotope. That could be posts, pictures, interviews, and even a short documentary video (if someone will help me, of course).
2. My second hope is to be able to answer the question about whether the Kindle Classroom Project should remain a little project or grow into something larger.
I won’t go into too many details right now about this possibility (because it’s exciting and scary), but I will say this: I’ve seen the positive impact of the Kindle Classroom Project, and that makes me happy. Because of your generous support, hundreds of students in the San Francisco Bay Area have reconnected to the power of story and reclaimed their interest in reading.
But there is also more work to do. Students of color in urban schools should have easy and plentiful access to books. The books should be high quality and help students see themselves, who they are, and who they want to become.
And though there are may ways to achieve those goals, it makes a lot of sense, given the limited resources of urban public schools, to build hybrid classroom libraries that mix Kindles, e-books, and physical books.
Please let me know your thoughts!