Tagged: iserotope

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A new look for Iserotope

favicon After four years, it was time for a change. Iserotope got its first redesign over the weekend. I hope you like the new look!

I wanted something simple and clean and professional and a little more modern and confident. After trying about 30 WordPress themes, I chose Blaskan, by Per Sandstrom. (My new housemates are Swedish, so maybe this was meant to be.)


I’m proud to say that I made a few modifications to the theme without breaking the site entirely, which has happened in the past.

The biggest change is that I chose a serif font, Old Standard TT, instead of the default Helvetica Neue. There’s nothing wrong with Helvetica, but my print journalism roots make me lean serif. Plus the Helvetica was huge and overbearing, which is no good.

Then I played around with column widths and the number of columns, and although the trend in blog design is toward expansive one-column themes (see Medium), I opted to keep my sidebar. (It has fun extras.)

My favorite part of this new look is how much white space there is. Yeah, maybe there’s too much, but I like the confident minimalism.

I’m still making some tweaks here and there, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Maybe you don’t care at all and would rather I just write more. Or maybe you care a lot one way or the other. Please let me know by leaving a comment! favicon

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Iserotope mentioned in The Kindle Chronicles

favicon People are talking about Iserotope!

Well, at least a little bit.

In this week’s podcast on The Kindle Chronicles, host Len Edgerly interviewed Meg Griswold, a teacher from Nashville who uses Kindles in her classroom.

Right at the end of the interview, for about 10 seconds, Mr. Edgerly and Ms. Griswold mentioned me and Iserotope — and whether teachers should use technology to monitor their students’ reading progress. Ms. Griswold says no — as do I.

(They were talking about “Not Reading the Book? The Book is Watching You,” where I got a little freaked out about how some companies think it would be a good idea if teachers tracked their students’ “engagement” on tablets.)

For the very serious and loyal Iserotope follower, see if you can find the 10-second clip in this 45-minute podcast! (The rest of the podcast is excellent, too: Mr. Edgerly does an excellent job keeping up with all things Kindle.)

Thanks, Mr. Edgerly and Ms. Griswold, for mentioning Iserotope! It’s a small but very powerful world out there of folks interested in how Kindles can revolutionize (and improve) reading and literature instruction in high schools! I’m glad to be a part of it. favicon

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Where Iserotope is headed this year

favicon Over the years, Iserotope has covered a number of topics: teaching, reading, technology, and more. Last year, when I left the classroom to become an instructional coach, the blog shifted to focus on the Kindle Classroom Project.

I got very excited that so many people wanted to donate their Kindles that I made sure to keep everyone updated about the progress of the project, which has grown from 12 Kindles last November to 69 now.

This year, I will continue to build the Kindle Classroom Project — the goal is now 125 Kindles, enough for the entire ninth grade class at my new school. But I also hope to write more posts about teaching, this time from an observer’s point of view rather than from my own.

Being a coach is very different from being a teacher. You have a distance that makes you farther away, but because the minute-by-minute stress isn’t there, it’s also possible to see more clearly sometimes.

I feel like it’s important for me to tell more stories about what I’m seeing in the classroom. This is partly to counteract some of the prevailing narratives that we’re hearing on news shows or reading in newspapers.

Specifically, I want to focus on high school teachers who are trying to teach reading better. What do they try, and what’s working? Are there teachers who can communicate to students not only the importance of reading but also its complexity? Do students have a fixed mindset about reading, or are they open to improving?

Elementary and middle school teachers and instructional coaches are doing a good job, in my opinion, of keeping reading at the center of their practice. By high school, though, that emphasis goes away, and the unfortunate assumption is that students either know how to read by then or, well, too bad. That, of course, needs to change.

In addition to focusing on teaching and reading, I’d like to hear from you, Iserotope readers, about what you’d like to read about. So please let me know! It’s going to be a great year. Hope you join me in the journey! favicon

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On the go? Save Iserotope articles to your Pocket

pocketfavicon If you’re a loyal Iserotope reader, you’re serious. You don’t want to miss any articles.

You likely follow Iserotope via Facebook or Twitter or Google+ or RSS feed or Instagram or email.

That’s great. But what if you find yourself in the middle of an article and don’t have time to finish? Or what if you want to save an article for later?

Most people email articles to themselves, and that’s OK. Perfectly great, good work.

But I have something better: Pocket.

Pocket is my favorite save-it-for-later service (even more than my previous favorite, Readability). You can save articles, videos, and images and read them later on your computer, tablet, or computer.

New to Iserotope: At the end of every post, you’ll see that there is a Pocket button. Try it out. You won’t be disappointed. And while you’re there, you might as well share the post with your friends, right?

Is there anyone out there who already uses Pocket? If so, let me know! favicon

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Follow Iserotope on Instagram!

instagram-logofavicon There’s never a dull moment at Iserotope.

Today, for all of you Instagram lovers out there, I announce that you can now follow Iserotope on Instagram.

You can follow Iserotope right now, right from your computer. Just click on this link or on the “View on Instagram” button on the ride sidebar.

It’s all very exciting.

If you go to my profile, you’ll see photos dedicated to reading, teaching, and technology, plus maybe a few that are off-topic.

Important: If you want to find Iserotope on your phone, it gets a little trickier. My username on Instagram is iseroma, not iserotope. But you’re all smart people.

* * *
With this new Instagram news, there are at least six ways to connect with Iserotope to ensure that you don’t miss a thing: FacebookTwitterGoogle+RSS FeedInstagram, and Via email (enter your email address on the right sidebar).

I hope you enjoy the new Iserotope feature, and please let me know your thoughts and suggestions. favicon

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5 free and easy ways to support The Kindle Classroom Project

favicon Hey, loyal Iserotope readers! Want to support The Kindle Classroom Project but can’t or don’t want to donate a Kindle, contribute money, or purchase a book?

Or maybe you’ve already donated plenty of your hard-earned cash and would rather let someone else empty their pocketbooks for a change?

Don’t worry: Here are many free and easy ways to help out. Try a few of them. Or try them all. Don’t be shy!

1. Tell your friends about The Kindle Classroom Project.
Word of mouth is the best way to get the word out. Say you’re with your friends, talking about the fiscal cliff or Kim Kardashian’s baby. What better time to say something like: “And you know what? My friend Mark collects used Kindles to promote reading! You should check out his blog!”

2. Share The Kindle Classroom page to kind, generous people.
Do you email? Use Facebook? Are you a tweeter or a Google plusser? However you share stuff online, please do so! The easiest way to share is to go to The Kindle Classroom page or the Contribute page and use the social sharing buttons at the top. Come on, it’ll be fun! If you’d like to use the direct link (for emailing and texting), here it is: iserotope.com/donate-kindle.

3. Subscribe to Iserotope via email, RSS feed, Twitter, and/or Facebook.
My goal this year is to move Iserotope away from my personal Facebook wall and share my posts only with those who want to read them. So if you like Iserotope, you should subscribe! Everything you need to subscribe is over on the right sidebar. (Just look for Snoopy in the Giants hat, though he’s hard to see.) By subscribing, you benefit The Kindle Classroom Project because the blog’s network gets larger and more powerful.

4. Share posts you like.
I can’t tell you how many Kindles have been donated because a friend decided to share a post on Facebook wall or tweet it out. If you like a post, click on a social sharing button (Facebook, Google Plus, or Twitter) right underneath the headline. It won’t take two seconds, plus it’ll make the post rank higher on Google. It’s even more powerful than liking a post on Facebook. Case in point: If you search “donate kindle” in Google, this post comes up on the first page, ranked #8. Not bad!

5. Write comments.
I’ve saved the best for last. When I began Iserotope, I wanted to create a place not just to reflect and share my thoughts, but also to create a community where teachers and people who care about education could come together to exchange ideas. Last year, a small, caring community of smart, committed people began to form. I’d like this group to grow, and I’d like Iserotope to be a forum about reading, teaching, and technology. Therefore, I hope that you will feel comfortable leaving comments. Please do!

Thank you very much for reading this post and for supporting Iserotope and The Kindle Classroom Project. If you’d like, feel free to leave me a comment about which of these five things you did! (It’s possible to do all five, right? 🙂 ) favicon

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New feature: Say hello to Iserotope Extras!

favicon I’m very pleased to announce a new feature today: Iserotope Extras(Update: Extras is now The Highlighter.)

As you know, I care about (in other words: am obsessed with) teaching, reading, and technology. So I think about all this stuff and write about it and invite loyal Iserotope readers to comment about it. (Thanks, readers!)

But what I do, more than anything else, is read about it.

Now I want to share the very best of what I read with you.

Click on Extras at the top of the page and a new tab will open to a beautiful list of articles to read, along with a little blurb of what I think. (Credit goes to Bundlr for the design.)

Even better: You can share individual articles (or the entire list!) to email, FB, Twitter, and more.

The only negative is that you can’t leave comments about these articles, which would be cool. But feel free to tweet me @iserotope. That’ll have to do for now until I come up with some better idea.

Anyway, I’m really excited, and I hope you are, too. I know that several of you have asked me, “Mark, where do you find those articles?” and “How do you come up with your crazy ideas?”

Now you know!

Please let me know what you think! Is this a good new feature, and if so, what topics do you want to read about? favicon

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Fall Semester Reflection #3: Accomplishments

favicon Although I want to improve as a teacher (and I will!), it’s also important to acknowledge some of my accomplishments this semester.

Here are a few of them:

1. I have rediscovered my joy and passion for teaching. I’ve always known, despite years of struggle, that teaching is at my center. It’s what I do. This semester, teaching has begun to be fun again.

2. I have regained my confidence. It’s important to remember that I’m good at this job. There is much to improve, of course, but it’s also clear that what I do helps students.

3. All my students passed. I gave out no failing grades. This has never happened before. I’m proud of the support I provided, and I’m happy that my students saw me as a coach. It wasn’t easy, but I made significant progress in providing academic intervention.

4. My class website, iseroma.com, has become an interactive learning space. Students take pride in posting their work. They write comments to each other. The dialogue continues outside of the classroom.

5. I have written regularly on this blog. Writing has helped me reflect and make changes more quickly than talking (which sometimes becomes venting). My favorite part, though, has been seeing comments to my posts. My teaching improves because of your insight.

6. I have taught a meaningful and rigorous AP English course. I’m making several improvements next semester (stay tuned!), but I’m happy to say that I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far.

Next semester, I hope to focus on reading, my #1 passion — in my class, in my Advisory, in my school. Let me know your ideas! favicon

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Hi there!

Welcome to iserotope! My name is Mark Isero, and I teach at a public high school in San Francisco.

A couple years ago, I got interested in using technology in my classroom. But things seemed impossible: Either I would need thousands of dollars or some crazy tech know-how to make anything happen.

I’m happy to say that I was wrong. Technology doesn’t have to be expensive and it doesn’t have to be complex. Every teacher — no matter your resources or tech skills — can do this.

The purpose of iserotope is to tell the stories of my attempts to engage my students and colleagues in technology with a very limited budget.

I also hope to highlight things that real teachers can do in their classrooms to help real students with their work.

I hope you enjoy iserotope and find it useful!