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Kindle Classroom Project update, Sept 2015: This will be the biggest year yet — by far!

favicon There’s so much that has happened, and so much going on, that it’s sort of impossible to figure out where to begin. But let me try!

Kevin Kindle
Kevin (SF, CA) was one of the program’s first students. (Yes, he read in the hallway.)

#1: The growth is amazing (and a little bit crazy). This will be the fifth year of the Kindle Classroom Project. I remember when there were just six Kindles in September 2011. When we started up school last year, there were 161. Now there are 592.

Each Kindle comes with total access to the KCP Library, which now includes 513 books.

#2: The KCP now serves nearly 600 students and 10 teachers in seven schools in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Hayward. Kindles keep arriving every day (20-30 a month, on average), and there is a waiting list of interested teachers.

#3: I’m super excited to announce that the KCP is partnering with the Oakland Unified School District on a project to research the effects of the program on student reading. Three teachers and 340 students at Oakland High School will receive Kindles. We’ll track what the students are reading, if they read more e-books than physical books, how their viewpoints on reading change, and whether their reading skills improve at a faster rate.


#4: The KCP now has its own website! This website will be a hub for students, teachers, and KCP supporters to follow the project. Students will keep track of all the books they’ve finished, read reviews and recommendations from their friends, and be able to request books they want to read. Teachers will get to view their students’ reading progress at a glance to help with book recommendations. Supporters will get to see the impact of their generous donations and connect more closely with the program. I’d like to thank friend and former colleague Brandon (San Francisco, CA) for all his hard work on this website. It’s live now, so feel free to register as a supporter! (There’s much more to come.)

#5: Then there was the first-annual Kindle Registration Party! Thirty-plus friends, family, former students, and KCP supporters came over to my house, ate pizza and my mom’s cookies, drank Sprite (and sometimes water), and helped register 210 new Kindles.

There’s no way that I could have processed all of these Kindles on my own. In fact, I predict that it would have easily taken me 50-80 hours. Despite a few tech challenges (my home WiFi network couldn’t handle all the simultaneous devices), the team finished everything up in six!

Take a look at this huge list of participants: Peter (San Francisco, CA), Michele (San Francisco, CA), Nancy (Oakland, CA), Joel (Oakland, CA), Emma (San Francisco, CA), Lara (Oakland, CA), Michael (Oakland, CA), Vanessa (San Francisco, CA), Jacqueline (San Mateo, CA), Brandon (San Francisco, CA), Millie (San Francisco, CA), Brent (San Francisco, CA), Julia (San Francisco, CA), Linda (Hayward, CA), Tim (San Francisco, CA), Brian (Leesburg, VA), Beth (San Francisco, CA), Barbara (Oakland, CA), Melissa (Oakland, CA), Talya (San Francisco, CA), Jessica (San Francisco, CA), Jenn (Oakland, CA), Judy (Asheville, NC), Abby (Berkeley, CA), Carla (San Francisco, CA), Lisa (San Francisco, CA), Danny (San Francisco, CA), Irene (Los Altos, CA), Jacob (San Francisco, CA), and an anonymous supporter from Mountain View. (I hope I didn’t miss anyone!)

Also: Thanks to Gail (Greenbrae, CA) for coming over days after the event to continue the registration process, including getting the Kindles on the website and boxing them up for delivery! Also, I appreciate the videography of Wenner (San Francisco, CA), who filmed all my how-to videos (which had a big yet fleeting following on YouTube).

New Social

#6: It’s now easier to follow the KCP. In addition to registering on the website, you can follow the Kindle Classroom Project on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All the names are the same now (@kindleclassroom), so it’s less confusing. If you’re interested, please take the time to follow the KCP on at least one, and get the word out.

Screenshot 2015-09-01 13.18.12

#7: I need your help to keep the program growing. By far, this year will be the KCP’s biggest. Compared to last year, there will be more than triple the number of students reading books, recording books, and reviewing books.

Most important, I make a promise to students that they can read whatever books they like, however much they like, whenever they like. This means that students get to take their Kindles home. This also means that students may request that new books be added to the Kindle Library. And it means that students may request additional copies of books when a license limit is reached (i.e., more than six students are reading the same title simultaneously).

I’ve estimated that the cost is $20 to support one KCP student’s reading for one year. This includes the Kindle case and charger as well as enough funds to cover the student’s book requests.

Please make a donation to support one (or more!) students this year! The easiest and fastest way is through PayPal. (PayPal just made it super fast.)

1 student | 2 students | 5 students | 10 students | 1 classother

If you don’t like PayPal, you can also donate an Amazon gift card via the KCP’s Amazon Wishlist. (I also need tons of chargers, cases, and other accessories.)

Welcome to the KCP
This is the letter the students receive when they first open up their Kindle.

Most important, thank you very much for all your support. This little humble program is growing up! It’s because there are hundreds of people from all across the country — friends, family, and total strangers — who care deeply about young people and their reading lives.

You believe, as do I, that offering aggressive access to books, alongside a caring and dedicated teacher, supports urban students of color to learn more about who they are and who they want to become.

Thank you again for all your support, and please feel free to leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments! favicon

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A Kindle and its donation journey, in 7 steps, to the Kindle Classroom Project

IMG_20141101_203803241favicon  “It’s amazing!” one friend told me the other day. “How do you get all these Kindles?”

The short answer is, The Kindles magically arrive on my stoop, shipped from generous donors across the country.

But it’s a little more than that. Here are the steps by which a used Kindle comes to the Kindle Classroom Project.

1. A person comes upon an extra Kindle.
Maybe they upgraded to a Kindle Voyage. Or maybe Santa brought them an iPad.

One donor from Houston recently sent me six Kindles — from the Kindle 2 model all the way to the Kindle Fire. Now that’s a serious reader and Kindle enthusiast!

And then there was a donor last January from Colorado, who sent me seven Kindles — all part of a research and development project (that led to a patent).

But usually, the person has one Kindle and a decision to make: What should I do with this?

2. The person finds the KCP and makes a generous choice.
Here’s an important part of the story. Most people, when finding themselves with an extra Kindle, may think to recycle the device, or else to give it to a family member, or maybe to a community organization, or to a library.

Not KCP donors. They’re thinking big and generously, and for the most part, they’re thinking the Internet.

I haven’t asked too many people how they’ve found the KCP, but usually, it’s in one of three ways: (a) via a Google search, (b) via word of mouth, (c) via another online post (like this one from my friend Iris, or this recent one on Edutopia from my colleague Bob).

After finding the KCP, the generous person may check out the Kindle Classroom Project page, and maybe the Contribute page.

And then comes the most important step.

3. That generous person fills out the Kindle submission form.
The potential donor navigates to Donate Your Kindle on Iserotope and sees the modest form in the middle of the page. Filling out the form takes a lot of trust.

After all, it’s not like Iserotope is a polished, professional website run by a corporate-funded non-profit organization. It’s just me, right? But I do think donors see and can feel the KCP spirit.

In a leap of faith, the potential donor — wherever he or she is (New York? Iowa? California? Kansas?) fills out this form.

Screenshot 2015-01-03 12.23.03

4. I get an email receipt of the form and write a quick note back.
This is the part that always seems like magic. Maybe it’ll be at home, or maybe at work, or maybe on my phone. Each time, the email is a wonderful surprise, no matter if it’s the first form submission I’ve gotten in a week or the second that day.

I quickly write a short but personal note back to the donor, letting him or her know my thanks and where to send the Kindle. Donors have told me that they appreciate that they receive a return email quickly and that it’s clearly written personally and just for them.

5. The generous donor ships the Kindle, and it arrives safely.
Let’s pause and consider what’s happening. A complete and total stranger has decided to donate a working e-reader — which retails anywhere from $69 to $199 — to students in the San Francisco Bay Area. That’s already generous.

What’s even more generous is that most people also contribute a Kindle case and Kindle charger, plus they ship everything (another expense) to my address. It’s a big deal.

Also, you can tell how much generous donors love their Kindles. They really know how to keep their Kindles safe! The packaging is always exquisite: bubble wrap, packaging tape, sturdy boxes. Like this:

Delivered Kindles

6. I thank the generous person and register the Kindle.
Now comes the fun part. The donor gets an immediate thank-you email message, and I write a thank-you card that includes my business card (thanks, Iris and Donovan).

KCP Business Card

The donation also gets announced on Twitter and Facebook and recorded on my KCP donations spreadsheet. This is also the time to change the total number of Kindles on Iserotope.

Charging and registering the Kindle doesn’t take too long. The serial number, donor, and Kindle name are copied on Amazon’s website as well as on my Kindle Inventory spreadsheet. Everything is ready to go!

7. The Kindle goes to an eager student.
The best step, of course, is the last one. It’s when the connection is made between the generous donor and an eager student.

The generous donor, by taking all the steps to contribute his or her Kindle, cares deeply about young people and their reading lives.

The eager student, by accepting the Kindle and agreeing to take care of it, is reclaiming his or her love of reading and embarking on a reading journey.

When I meet with students, I identify the donor by first name and the donor’s city of residence. Students are always surprised and grateful, no matter if the donor comes from San Francisco or Saskatoon.

In just seven steps, now a new student has a Kindle in his or her backpack and a library of books to read.

* * *
Note: Most Kindles are donated this way. But not all. Over the past two years, more than 30 Kindles have come new to the KCP, thanks to generous donors. Right now, students in San Francisco and Hayward are reading on Kindles that generous donors bought on the KCP Amazon Wishlist. I thank those donors, too!

To donate your used Kindle, go to http://iserotope.com/donate-kindle
To purchase a new Kindle, go to http://j.mp/kcpwishlist
To donate to the Kindle Library, go to http://j.mp/kcpquickdonate

And please tell your friends! favicon

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Kindle Library reaches 400 titles, more to come

9780316219266favicon With just 12 hours left in 2013, the Kindle Library has reached 400 titles, thanks to a donation from LeAnne in Fremont, Calif.

It took just three months for the library to grow to 400 books from 300.

LeAnne has supported the Kindle Classroom Project for a long time, and I appreciate her dedication and generosity. She’s part of the 15-member cadre of sustaining donors who give and give and give. LeAnne does an excellent job getting books that students want by checking out my students’ Amazon Wishlist.

It’s fitting that Book #400 is The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, a biography of Jeff Bezos. Daniel, a highly skilled reader who requested the book in October, will be very happy to receive the book when we return from Winter Break next week.

If it took just three months for the Kindle Library to gain 100 titles, what does that mean for 2014? The future road looks promising: Just yesterday, I finally completed a $1,200 DonorsChoose project ($900 after sales tax and DonorsChoose’s fees, ugh) that will fund 90 books that students request. Here’s a screenshot of the completed project. (LeAnne was in on that project, too, along with other key figures Stuart, Laura, DSW, Iris, Michele, and Raman.)

Screenshot 2013-12-31 12.30.59

With those funds, along with the regular generosity of KCP donors, I predict we’ll reach 500 (or maybe even 600?) books by the end of the school year.

But there’s no rush. It’s important, of course, to keep the books excellent. That’s the most important thing. It’s better to have fewer good books than more bad ones. That’s why it makes me happy to say that I’m 100% sure that every single title that’s currently in the Kindle Library is high-interest and compelling to my students.

There’s only one worry I have: What happens when the Kindle Library gets too large? I mean, it’s not going to happen anytime soon. But the last time I checked, the latest Kindles could hold “more than 1,000 books,” according to Amazon’s website. How many more? I wonder. 🙂

Want to get in on the fun? Check out the Contribute Page for 10 ways to donate! favicon