Tagged: choice

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Kindle Classroom Project: Any book, anytime

IMG_20150911_085254550favicon My good friend Barbara, who is also a sustaining donor of the Kindle Classroom Project, made a great point tonight. It went something like this: The Kindles are great, but the KCP is about the books.

Students who participate in the Kindle Classroom Project get to read any book they want, whenever they want.

The KCP Library, which stands now at 639 titles, grows from student requests. When a student wants to read a book that is not yet in the library, she lets me know through the KCP website. Within an hour or so, the book is delivered and available — not just to that student but also to all 600+ students in the program.

Any book, anytime. Choice and access.

There’s definitely a novelty when a student gets a Kindle. Look, you can make the text bigger! You can look up words! You can turn on text-to-speech! Nevertheless, over time, like most things, the wow factor wanes.

What’s left are the books.

Every new book to the KCP Library originates as a student request. Through these requests, students recommend books to each other. A few students are particularly influential. When Tae’Janai (San Francisco, CA) requests a new book, students in Oakland — whom she’s never met — start reading it, too.

Book requests come in all the time. It’s most heartwarming when I get them in the evenings and on weekends. Students are becoming independent readers. They’re building reading identities. They’re following their interests outside of school time.

It makes me extremely happy that the KCP is expanding. New teachers are signing up, new students are joining, Kindles are showing up on my doorstep, and generous donors are making contributions so that students can read any book, anytime. favicon

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Kindles + Choice = Reading the classics

favicon My decision this semester to focus my Kindle project on voluntary reading (rather than teacher-assigned reading) is starting to pay off.

Out of my Advisory class of 18, 10 students are reading on Kindles. It’s fun to watch. My hope is to get a class set of Kindles so every student can try one.

My favorite thing to do is to talk with students about their reading. Which books do they choose, and why? What do they like about their books? What questions are they grappling with in life, and how does reading help them answer those questions?

When given choice, students like reading, and often, they select books long considered dry or tedious. Yes, they choose classics!

Today, I checked in with a student who just recently borrowed a Kindle. I asked him what he was reading. He replied, “Animal Farm. It’s kind of funny.”

My student didn’t know that I’d taught the novel for several years, that I thought it was only an OK book, and that most students endured it just to get to the engaging mock trial project we did at the end of the unit.

He didn’t care about all that. He is reading Animal Farm, and he likes it.

Although this is just a guess, I think that the Kindle has something to do with his selection. The Kindle does an excellent job at eradicating negative peer pressure. Nobody knows what you’re reading. Nobody knows if you’re reading fast or slowly. Nobody cares if your book has a colorful cover.

It’s just you and the author’s world. And right now, my student is enjoying a little George Orwell. favicon