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.
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!
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!
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!
Note: This post was originally published yesterday in this month’s newsletter. Consider subscribing!
Happy December! Hope your holiday is going well so far! It has been a long time since my last update, and since then, there have been huge changes to the Kindle Classroom Project. Check out these highlights!
The KCP smashes the 1,000-Kindle barrier!
Kindle donations have been astounding this year. Back in February, there were 688 Kindles. Now there are 1,376. (Yep, that’s double the number.) How is this possible? Two ways:
1. Generous supporters have sent in Kindles at around 1 per day.
Donors since February include: Anne (Seattle, WA), Mark (Kensington, CA), Mark (Bethesda, MD), Paula (Brooklyn, NY), Stacey (Danville, CA), Michelle (San Francisco, CA), Barbara (Encinitas, CA), Jay (Odenton, MD), Brian (Leesburg, VA), Uketa (Columbus, GA), Thao (Daly City, CA), Cherie (Burlington, ON), Arran (Denver, CO), John (Schererville, IN), Tom & Rob (San Francisco, CA), Wendy (Nashville, TN), James (Willington, CT), Robert (Dix Hills, NY), Melisa (West Bend, WI), Anjum (Brooklyn, NY), Vicky (New York, NY), Raymond (Philadelphia, PA), Amy (Atlanta, GA), Sharath (Charlotte, NC), Sharon (Natchez, MS), Michael (Cupertino, CA), Kerry (Marina, CA), Paul (Berkeley, CA), Anna (Calgary, AB), Samantha (Beacon, NY), Darrell (Lodi, CA), Dezmond (Seattle, WA), Adams Brothers (Atlanta, GA), Angela (San Mateo, CA), Caren (Camp Springs, MD), Sarah (Austin, TX), Paul (Manakin-Sabot, VA), Mario (Alexandria, VA), Emily (San Francisco, CA), Michael (Patchogue, NY), Peter (Santa Clara, CA), Daniel (New York, NY), Wendy (Sandy, OR), Sandra (Houston, TX), Ann (Los Altos, CA), Elizabeth (Byron, MN), Kay (Ballston Lake, NY), Joanne (Indianapolis, IN), Diane (Sammamish, WA), Sarah (Lake Oswego, OR), John (Boulder, CO), Rob (Villanova, PA), Herb (Morehead City, NC), Terry (Etiwanda, CA), JonAngelo (Twain Harte, CA), Cathy (Lodi, CA), Janice (El Cerrito, CA), Patrick (Norwood, MA), Brad & Ellen (Okemos, MI), Britt (Philadelphia, PA), Russ (Lees Summit, MO), Christine (Lilburn GA), Pete (N. Olmsted, OH), Mark (Pompano Beach, FL), Sarah (Seattle, WA), Christina (Huntington Station, NY), Sarah (North Royalton, OH), Christine (Somerville, MA), Linda (Roseville, CA), Kate (Dayton, ME), Peter (San Francisco, CA), Eleanor (Bellevue, WA), Christine (Herndon, VA), Sandra (Dallas, TX), Rosalie (Melrose Park, IL), Mary (Blooming Grove, TX), Mark (La Jolla, CA), Gay (Flemington, NJ), Christine (Olympia, WA), Lynnette (Los Angeles, CA), Andy (St. Louis, MO), Cissy (Plymouth, MA), Nealy (San Francisco, CA), Reginald (Houston, TX), Patricia (Irving, TX), Elizabeth (Seattle, WA), Bonnie (Charleston, SC), Marcia (Englewood, CO), Cassandra (Balwyn, AUS), Karla (Sherman Oaks, CA), Juliana (Harrisburg, PA), John (San Mateo, CA), Alan (Encinitas, CA), Pam (Midland, TX), Darlene & Hugh (Woodcliff Lake, NJ), Allison (Jacksonville, FL), Yvonne (Kissimmee, FL), Kristin (Seattle, WA), Olimpia (Salem, SC), Robert (Sun City, AZ), Sharon (Algonac, MI), Teresa (W. Orange, NJ), Jennifer (Ackworth, GA), Elizabeth (Morro Bay, CA), Kerry (Marina Del Rey, CA), Marc (Brooklyn, NY), Andras (Concord, NC), Marie & Eddie (Bangor, ME), Kristin (Hayward, CA), Susan (Arlington, VA), Aaron (Albuquerque, NM), Diane (Calgary, AB), Kristi (Ramona, CA), Leigh (Seligman, MO), Sheila (Berkeley, CA), Allie (Orange, CA), Jacki (Edgewater, MD), Charlene (Englewood, CO), Shari (San Francisco, CA), Kate (Newburyport, MA), Sam (North Potomac, MD), Joey (Parkville, MD), Pam (Stamford, CT), Simona (Altamante Springs, FL), Chris (Montgomery Vlg, MD), The Pelletiers (N. Tonawanda, NY), Matt (Ladera RAnch, CA), Robert (Ossining, NY), Anthony (New York, NY), Jamie (Oakland, CA), Betsy (Seattle, WA), Susan (Mtn. View, CA), Nathaniel (Brooklyn, NY), Francis (San Francisco, CA), Heather (Bozeman, MT), Jodell (Skaneateles, NY), Robin (Bronx, NY), Alissa (Waterford, VA), Karen (Highland Vlg, TX), Jim (Buffalo, NY), Michele (San Francisco, CA), Christian (Kirkland, WA), Joe (Seattle, WA), Joe (Seattle, WA), YT (San Diego, CA), Robyn (Redmond, WA), Janet (San Jose, CA), Daniel (Ben Lomond, CA), Jay (Odenton, MD), Blaiz (Los Angeles, CA), Brad & Ellen (Okemos, MI), Matthew (San Francisco, CA), Jeff (Placentia, CA), Megan (Lincoln, CA), Jocelyn (San Francisco, CA), Greg (Irvine, CA), Amy (Brooklyn, NY), Miriam (Davis, CA), Shannon (Boise, ID), Carson (Newburyport, MA), Ma’Lanee (Bear, DE), David (Chevy Chase, MD), Oliver (Houston, TX), and Iris (Avon, CT). THANK YOU!
Have another Kindle to donate? Or a friend who might like to donate one? Here’s how.
2. Worldreader made a huge donation of 458 Kindles to the KCP. (Wow.)
Worldreader is a wonderful non-profit organization whose mission is to eradicate illiteracy, “to create a world where everyone is a reader.” Last month, I got a message from Zev Lowe, senior director at Worldreader. Could the KCP use some Kindles? 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 operations (thank you, Ryan Lew), meet founder David Risher, and answer questions about the KCP. (Here are some neat slides!) 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.
Zev’s promise of “some” Kindles ended up becoming this behemoth donation (458 Kindles, 400+ cases, 400+ chargers, and more). Take a look!
This donation from Worldreader is the largest in KCP history. It allows the program to serve more students and teachers in more schools. In addition, I look forward to keeping in touch with Worldreader to find ways that both projects can deepen our impact.
The KCP now serves a whole school!
It was always a dream of mine to see the Kindle Classroom Project grow to serve an entire school. That dream is now a reality! Since August, all 425 students at Envision Academy in Oakland have been reading on Kindles. They have 25 minutes of independent reading time every day, plus nearly all students take their Kindles home. This means students read at night, on weekends, and over vacation breaks.
Every Friday, I get to visit Envision Academy, and inevitably, students stop me in the halls and staircases, asking me for new books, telling me about their favorites, and thanking me for their Kindles. Sometimes they call me Mr. Mark, and other times, they refer to me as The Kindle Guy, and either way, it is heartwarming.
The KCP Library is booming
Because of generous donors and student enthusiasm, the KCP Library now stands at 925 books (up from 669 in February). The library keeps growing and growing! One motto of the program is that students may read what they like, when they like, however much they like. As a result, students get to request new titles that interest them, and students choose well.
Here are some of the books students have requested over the past few weeks:
Students choose good books. They request their books on the program website, any time day and night, and I buy them within a few hours. There is a trust building among students that the KCP community cares deeply about their reading interests and will honor student book requests.
I’d like to thank the following people for donating to build the KCP Library in 2016: Lori (Oceanside, CA), Jamie (Oakland, CA), Brian (Leesburg, VA), Becky (Woodside, NY), Stuart (New York, NY), Iris (San Diego, CA), DSW (Saratoga, CA), Chris (Montgomery Village, MD), Toni (Apex, NC), Ma’Lanee (Bear, DE), Sharon (Naperville, IL), Elder Family Foundation (Berkeley, CA), Sherril (Pacifica, CA), Dina (Saratoga, CA), Patrick (Garfield, NJ), Barbara (Oakland, CA), Pat (Santa Rosa, CA), Michelle (Alameda, CA), Tom & Rob (San Francisco, CA), Karl & Phoebe (Santa Cruz, CA), Allie (Orange, CA), Bob (New York, NY), and Kati (Newark, CA). Thank you! (Hope I didn’t miss anyone!)
Want to help build the KCP Library? Here’s how!
Sustaining donors ensure the KCP’s long-term health
Whenever I get nervous that I won’t be able to honor a student’s book request, another KCP supporter chooses to donate again, or to make a sustaining donation. It is a testament to the power of the KCP community that so many people continue to give and give. KCP supporters believe in young people and their reading lives.
Here are the KCP’s sustaining donors of 2016: Brian (Leesburg, VA), DSW (Saratoga, CA), Iris (San Diego, CA), Sherril (Pacifica, CA), Barbara (Oakland, CA), Pat (Garfield, NJ), Dina (Saratoga, CA), Stuart (New York, NY), Toni (Apex, NC), Lori (Oceanside, CA), Sam (North Potomac, MD), Matthew (San Francisco, CA), Irene (Los Altos, CA), Cathy (Lodi, CA), Susan (Mtn. View, CA), Emily (San Francisco, CA), Kati (Newark, CA), Amy (Brooklyn, NY), Kate (Dayton, ME), Bob (New York, NY), Jamie (Oakland, CA), Pat (Santa Rosa, CA), Elder Family Foundation (Berkeley, CA), Laura (San Francisco, CA), Chris (Montgomery Vlg, MD). Thank you! (Hope I didn’t miss anyone!)
In all, $9,148 has been donated so far in 2016, 22% more than the $7,525 donated last year. Thank you! Want to become a sustaining supporter of the KCP? Here’s how!
Next steps for the KCP
So much, so many things! I’m excited about a number of projects, including:
– Finding another school that would like to go all-KCP. There are a few excellent candidates, including ARISE High School, Oakland High School, Elmhurst Community Prep (all in Oakland), Leadership High School, and City Arts and Technology High School (both in San Francisco). We would pilot in the Spring semester and then launch whole-school next August.
– Maybe expanding to middle schools. Research says that independent reading declines beginning in fifth grade, especially for boys. If the KCP can encourage young people to read beginning in middle school, they’ll never have to reclaim their love of reading; it’ll always be there! One challenge: Introducing middle schools would require starting a new KCP library from scratch to accommodate what’s appropriate for younger readers.
– Nonprofit 501c3? It’s always in the back (or front!) of my mind to quit my day job, take a risk, and make the Kindle Classroom Project a nonprofit organization. But legal and financial considerations (particularly with book distribution) make it challenging. My hope is to build a pilot program in 2017 that will test whether a 501c3 is viable. This “test KCP classroom” might be one that I lead myself! (More to come about that.)
Thank you again for all your support. We have built a very strong community. If you’d like to help out some more, please let me know!
This isn’t easy reading, but it’s important. In “The Making of an American Terrorist,” New Republic writer Amanda Robb interviews and reports on Robert Dear, who shot up a Planned Parenthood clinic and killed three people in November 2015.
Dear is white, poor, middle-aged, Christian, and mentally ill. He lived in an RV in a rural part of Colorado. He watched a lot of right-wing TV and read a lot of right-wing websites. What makes this article so scary is that there are a lot of Robert Dears in America.
It would be easy to dismiss Dear as an unstable man who was driven by his mental illness rather than an organized ideology. After his arrest, psychiatrists diagnosed him with a “delusional disorder, persecutory type.” But Dear’s tendency toward violence was shaped and steered by outside forces every bit as much as the foreign terrorists we have come to fear.
Here’s the article: http://j.mp/2hlqARG (via Pocket). You can also find this article in this week’s Iserotope Extras, a weekly email digest that includes my favorite articles about race, education, and culture. Feel free to subscribe!
My friend Lynn emailed me “The Need to Read,” by Will Schwalbe, in last Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. It is definitely worth reading.
Reading is the best way I know to learn how to examine your life. By comparing what you’ve done to what others have done, and your thoughts and theories and feelings to those of others, you learn about yourself and the world around you. Perhaps that is why reading is one of the few things you do alone that can make you feel less alone. It is a solitary activity that connects you to others.
I’m reminded that reading isn’t just a respite from the relentlessness of technology. It isn’t just how I reset and recharge. It isn’t just how I escape. It’s how I engage. And reading should spur further engagement.
And here’s my favorite:
Books remain one of the strongest bulwarks we have against tyranny—but only as long as people are free to read all different kinds of books, and only as long as they actually do so. The right to read whatever you want whenever you want is one of the fundamental rights that helps preserve all the other rights. It’s a right we need to guard with unwavering diligence. But it’s also a right we can guard with pleasure. Reading isn’t just a strike against narrowness, mind control and domination: It’s one of the world’s great joys.
Source: http://j.mp/2gtt9kI (via Pocket). You can also find this article at Iserotope Extras, a weekly email digest that includes my favorite articles about race, education, and culture. Feel free to subscribe!