Tagged: john green

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Hi there! My name is Kindle #300.

Kindle300horizontalfavicon  I am pleased to announce the arrival of Kindle #300, a gift from Virginia in Murphy, North Carolina.

Thank you very much, Virginia. This is a big milestone!

Over the past year, the Kindle Classroom Project has doubled in size. From 150 Kindles last April to 300 today, the program has exploded in interest and impact.

After a slow February (just 12 Kindles), March was back to normal, with 29 Kindles coming in. Since last November, I’ve been averaging six Kindles a week, nearly one a day.

The next few months, I’ll be recruiting teachers for next school year. I’m excited about growing the KCP in Oakland and San Francisco, home to excellent teachers who often do not have the additional time or resources to build robust classroom libraries.

The book requests are still streaming in at all hours of the day and night. Yesterday, Elizabeth (Hayward, CA) asked for Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Because of the book’s popularity, more than six students have read the title, which means, according to Amazon policy and publishers’ expectations, I purchase another copy.

I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Summer 2015 and next school year. In a few months, we will pilot our first KCP Summer Session, in which a group of students will get to keep their Kindles in June and July. I’m going to ask them to reflect on whether having a Kindle encourages them to keep reading over the break. My prediction is yes.

Please let me know your thoughts and questions. The KCP community of students, teachers, and generous donors is growing, and we’re on the cusp of something big! favicon

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Books students finished reading today

favicon The Kindle Classroom Project is taking off.

Recently, I set up an add-on to my Google spreadsheet that emails me a message whenever a student has completed a book.

The emails come in every day, hour by hour. Students are reading, and they’re completing books, and they’re telling me about them.

Here are a few books that students completed today:

My Bloody LifeMy Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King
By Reymundo Sanchez
Review by Eduardo, Kathleen’s class, San Francisco

This book was amazing due to the format it is set up in. This is actually one of the first books I’ve finished, but what helped out was how interesting the book was and how I could relate to some parts of the story. It was more like a movie than a book because I could picture all the scenes in my head. I like how it deeply explains what caused him to become gang affiliated. It inspired me to count my blessings and to appreciate what I have — because people have realities that I probably would have never survived. I recommend it to those who like gang- affiliated books because it does a great job explaining the struggles of a gang banger as a whole.

The ShallowsThe Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
By Nicholas Carr
Review by Nicholas, Kathleen’s class, San Francisco

While reading The Shallows, I found it incredibly informative and provided a lot of useful information; however, it is not without its faults. The main problem with this book for me was that I found that it dragged on for too long. It takes Carr quite a long time to actually get to his point, but he does fill the in-between time with some interesting information. This alone should not divert you from reading this book. It is quite interesting if you are patient when you read; however, I suppose it all depends on your own reading style. As someone who reads a plethora of books at once, yet at the same time at a slower pace, I found this book to be interesting and recommend it for fans of non-fiction or people looking to get into non-fiction.

Paper TownsPaper Towns
By John Green
Review by Melissa, Kathleen’s class, San Francisco

I gave this book four stars (out of 5) because I loved it, but it is very predictable. It is very similar to Looking for Alaska and Abundance of Katherines, some of his other very popular books. It is pretty unoriginal that he writes about a dorky teenager secretly loving another mysterious teenager over and over again. Even though the storylines are very similar, the book has many quotes and metaphors that I enjoyed.

The completed books keep coming and coming. Over the weekend, one student in Hayward requested a book on Friday, and then requested the second book in the series on Sunday. Another student in San Francisco finished his book on BART on his way home.

The Kindle Classroom Project is removing many of the gaps that deter young people from building robust reading lives. Some are:

– I don’t get to read what I want to,
– I don’t have the extra money to buy books from the bookstore,
– I don’t like going to the library, or it’s too far, or I have too many fines,
– My school doesn’t have enough good books,
– I always have to wait to read the book I want to read.

Those deterrents are real, and I’m very pleased to see how getting Kindles in students’ hands is addressing those obstacles, solving many of them, and encouraging students to reclaim their love of reading. favicon

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Another easy way to promote reading: Make public a list of who’s reading what

favicon Here’s another quick and easy idea to promote reading from the classroom of English teacher extraordinaire Tess Lantos at Impact Academy in Hayward.

Post what students are reading. Make it public. Make it big and put it up on a wall. Like this:

Status of the Class

Tess tracks what her students are reading in a Google spreadsheet. Then, she gets huge paper and prints it out. Simple — and very effective!

With this tracker, students can check out what they’ve read, what their peers have read, and which books are most popular. It also helps Tess recommend books to students and push them to new reading levels.

The tracker also highlights how students tend to read “the biggies,” particularly at the beginning of the year. If you’re a ninth grader, you’re reading John Green, Coe Booth, Allison van Diepen, James Dashner, Luis Rodriguez, Suzanne Collins, and Stanley Tookie Williams.

It’s always better to have more copies of popular titles than a classroom library with wide selection but little depth! favicon

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Book review: The Fault in Our Stars (★★☆☆)

favicon I was supposed to like The Fault in Our Stars. I mean, it’s by John Green. It was Time’s fiction book of the year. It won Goodreads’s award for this year’s best young adult fiction. The protagonist is memorable, the topic is cancer, and the story is poignant.

What am I missing? Apparently, a lot — I didn’t much care for the book.

Or maybe it’s just that I preferred Mr. Green’s other books — An Abundance of Katherines and Looking for Alaska, to name a couple.

This might sound insensitive, but I didn’t feel sympathy toward the main character, Hazel, who is dying from cancer. It’s clear that she doesn’t care much for the typical platitudes that accompany conversations about cancer. Hazel would rather get to the honest truth: that we live and die, that death involves oblivion, that there is no heroism in fighting cancer, that pain needs to be felt, and that there aren’t side effects to cancer — rather, there are side effects to dying.

Even when she meets Augustus at a support group and they fall in love, Hazel remains snarky. I mean, I suppose that a teenager dying from cancer deserves to be snarky, but this is typical for narrators in young adult literature. Perhaps my students would identify with Hazel’s personality, but mostly I found Hazel a bit mean, especially when she meets the author of her favorite book.

Most important, I don’t see my students reading this book. A few of my students have parents who are battling cancer; I’m not sure this book would be appropriate. And like many YA books, this one seems targeted to a White audience. That doesn’t mean, of course, that African American or Latino students couldn’t find this book valuable. It’s just that there would be many other books for them to read first.

While I applaud Mr. Green’s effort to offer a different kind of book about cancer, The Fault in Our Stars misses the mark. Of course, I could be entirely wrong, and I know that there are thousands of people who disagree with me. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments, and maybe I’ll be enlightened! favicon