Tagged: mirroring project

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Way to start school: Get students to read The Maze Runner, then go to the movie

favicon We know that reluctant readers like book-movies — that is to say, books that are also movies. Even better are book-movies-to-be. Students can read the book, then go see the movie, and everyone is happy.

Back in the day (a few years ago), Hollywood didn’t entirely understand the widespread appeal of young adult books and their ability to amass large box office returns. Sure, there was Harry Potter, but for the most part, there weren’t too many books turned into films.

That has changed dramatically. Since The Hunger Games, things have picked up. Divergent was big, and The Fault in Our Stars was huge this summer.

And now, coming September 19, is The Maze Runner. Here’s the trailer:

Published in 2009 and written by James Dashner, the book has been medium-popular among students the past couple years. But my prediction is that marketing for the movie will make reading the book much more desirable right at the beginning of school.

So, teachers, here’s an idea: Encourage your students (especially boys) to read The Maze Runner, and tell them if they finish it before the film comes out, you’ll take them on a field trip to see the movie, followed by a discussion comparing the book with the movie.

(On a related note: Book-movie clubs are another great way to promote reading.)

No, sorry, I don’t have ideas about how to fund the field trip, besides asking families to pay for their kid’s movie ticket. It’s possible, I suppose, to do a DonorsChoose project, but it would be considered a special event and perhaps use up too many of your DonorsChoose points. (If you have ideas about how to raise money for the field trip, leave them in the comments.)

Loyal Iserotope readers and Kindle Classroom Project donors: You’ll be happy to note that the entire Maze Runner series is already in the Kindle Library. But I’d like to make sure that there is also one physical copy of The Maze Runner in each of the five Kindle classrooms. (This is also to promote my long-term project of library classroom mirroring.)

Want to help? If you’d like to buy one (or all five, for $32.45, before tax and shipping), click on the cover below. It should take you directly to Amazon to buy the book. When you continue through your cart, you should be able to send it directly to my “gift registry address.”


I can’t wait to tell Tess and Marni and Abby and the other KCP teachers about my idea. My hunch is that they’re going to be interested. We’ll see if the students are, too. If they are, I’ll keep everyone posted, and maybe you can come see the movie, too!

Let me know what you think by leaving a brilliant insight. favicon

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Big book-buying bonanza

favicon Things are getting out of hand. And that makes me happy.

Just last post, I celebrated that the Kindle library had reached 300 titles. Nicole (Quincy, MA), a sustaining donor, contributed three e-books that got the library to that goal.

And then, apparently, the following happened:

1. Nicole’s good spirits permeated across the country, which infected large numbers of reading advocates,

2. These reading advocates became intensely jealous of Nicole, which prompted them to donate books to the Kindle Classroom Project like maniacs.

Yes, indeed, that is likely what happened.

In the past two days, 11 donors have bought a total of 18 books from my students’ Amazon Wishlist, and as a result, the Kindle Library now stands at 318 titles.

Here are the books and who donated them!

Not bad, right?

But it gets better!

1. Ten of the books were donated by former students.
For the first time ever, I decided to write about the Kindle Classroom Project on my teacher Facebook account. The response was quick. Within 12 hours, seven students had visited the Amazon Wishlist and bought books. Please thank Henry (SF, CA), Rasheel (Mission Viejo, CA), Cindy (SF, CA), Collins (Kentfield, CA), Michael (SF, CA), Deanna (NY, NY), and Amanda (San Jose, CA) for their generous donations!

2. Sustaining donors seem to be having a competition.
LeAnne (Fremont, CA), Iris (San Diego, CA), and Laura (SF, CA) have all donated generously in the past. But the Nicole Effect spurred them to contribute again!

3. Loyal Iserotope readers are getting the word out.
Laura (SF, CA) shared a link to the Amazon Wishlist on Facebook, which resulted in Elaine’s (Stanford, CA) generous donation. Donors Tony (SF, CA) and Dave (Oakland, CA) also shared the link to their networks, and even the National Council of Teachers of English got involved.

All I have to say is what I always say: I’m appreciative and thankful. Last month, the momentum was with Kindle donations. Everybody from everywhere wanted to send me a Kindle. This month so far, the trend is with e-books. Because of the generosity of so many people, the Kindle Library is up to 318 titles, and 115 books are mirrored, existing both in physical and digital forms.

If you’re up to it, let’s keep up this energy! I’ll keep adding titles to the Wishlist, and I’m hopeful that more people will follow up and buy books that students want to read. Thank you again! favicon

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Kindle Classroom Project Update, September 2013

favicon I am happy to report that September was a big month for the Kindle Classroom Project. Here are some highlights:

1. Ten Kindles were donated.
We’re now up to 80 total Kindles! September was our third-busiest Kindle donation month of all time. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we’ll hit 100 Kindles by the New Year. Do you think it’s possible?

2. Twenty-two books were donated.
We’re now up to 296 total titles! September was our second-busiest ebook donation month of all time. Folks are telling me that they like checking out my students’ Amazon wishlist to see the latest requests. It’s also helpful that donors can view the current Kindle library.

3. Classroom Library Mirroring is really happening.
My vision is that students can shop for books in the classroom’s physical library but read them on their Kindles. I call it classroom library mirroring.

Mirroring brings the best of both worlds: You get to touch the physical book, but it never leaves the classroom. It stays nice and colorful and in good condition on the library shelf. Meanwhile, you can enjoy reading the book on your Kindle, where the digital copy never gets lost or worn.

Just last week, I began tracking how many titles are mirrored. We’re up to 102. Not bad!

4. I updated some pages.
New to Iserotope: “Our Kindle Library” and “Gallery.” Check them out! Also, I updated the Contribute page and the About page.

5. As always, KCP donors are great.
Thanks so much to all the September donors: Wil (New York, NY), Wes (San Francisco, CA), Katherine (New York, NY), Mary (Princeton Junction, NJ), Mary (Parkersburg, IA), Shelly (Alameda, CA), Jenna (Fremont, CA), Doug (San Francisco, CA), Ruth (Palo Alto, CA), Sarah (Logan, UT), and Maria (still unknown!).

Let’s keep things going! Keep getting the word out. Students want to read and are patiently awaiting Kindles and good books! favicon

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Building our Kindle library, book by book

favicon The Kindle Classroom Project is only as good as the quality of its books.

Sure, I love getting Kindles in the mail from generous donors. It’s crazy to think that at this time last year, there were 12 Kindles in the collection, and now there are 80. I’m very appreciative!

But without books that my students want to read, those Kindles would go unread. That’s why I’m putting in more effort and resources into building the Kindle library. Right now, the library stands at 289 titles, and I’d like to reach 350 by January.

Like any good librarian, though, I’m not just accumulating books willy-nilly. After all, it would be easy to download tons of free classics from Project Gutenberg. But a bursting library with thousands of titles may overwhelm students new to Kindles and unfamiliar with vast collections.

The correct approach to building the Kindle Library involves four steps:

1. Ask students to request books they want.
There’s something powerful when a student approaches me, requests a book, and then I get it for them quickly, sometimes even right then in the moment. It says, “I’m listening to you, and I care about your reading, and you should be able to read what you want to read as soon as possible.”

Because of generous donors, I have an Amazon gift card balance ready for student book requests. My rule is that students can’t request a new book until they complete at least one from the library. After that, though, I’m happy to buy books for students. I’ve found that students choose well, plus requested titles often get read by multiple students at the same time.

If you’d like to help students read books they request, send me an Amazon gift card! My email is iseroma AT rocketmail DOT com. If you’d rather donate cash, go to my WePay Donations page!

2. Scour bookstores and other classroom libraries for good titles.
Whenever I go to Barnes and Noble or another rare real-life bookstore, I head over to the Young Adult section to check out the new titles. Many of them don’t fit my students, but it’s good to see what’s out there.

I’ve also had a lot of success asking other ninth grade teachers and teacher librarians. If there’s a book that you know my students would love, and it’s not in the current Kindle library, please email me or leave suggestions in the comments.

3. Acquire books that mirror the physical classroom library.
I’m happy right now with the 289 titles in the Kindle library, but that’s no match for the 688 books in my physical classroom library, which is currently on loan in Berkeley. Want to see it? Here’s a picture from last month (there are more books now). Nancy Jo Turner is masterful.

Isn't it amazing?

The problem is, Many of those great books in the physical library aren’t mirrored on the Kindles. In fact, I just completed a detailed analysis that concluded that fewer than 100 titles in my physical library are part of the Kindle library.

I have to do better. Classroom library mirroring is important. No, not all physical books should be mirrored, but many should be. If you’d like to help out, visit my Amazon wishlist, where I’m adding titles that need mirroring. Just be sure to add your name in the optional message box so that I can thank you (unless you want to remain anonymous).

4. Get rid of titles that never get read.
Here’s the controversial one. All good librarians weed books that circulate poorly. It’s an important part of sound collection management. But people are weird about books. They think you’re doing something sacrilegious if you donate or recycle a tattered book that nobody has read since 1931.

The sentiment is even stronger with Kindle books. “Why would you get rid of an ebook?” Over the years, I’ve found that students are bored by libraries that seem overgrown. The quality of each title matters much more than the quantity of total books. It’s much better to have 200 great books than 1,000 not-so-great ones. So that’s why I weed.

But here’s the best part of a Kindle library: You can weed and still keep the books, just in case, for later. Because they take up no physical space, I can easily take ebooks off the Kindles and keep them, safe and sound, on my computer. They’re always ready in case a student requests the title or if I change my mind.

* * *

There you have it! Thanks for reading about my plans to build the Kindle library. If you’d like to help out, please do. Let me know your thoughts. Also, you can head over to the Contribute page for more details about the 7 ways you can support students and their reading lives. favicon

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Another $1,000 donation: DSW has done it again!

favicon A huge roar emerged from the offices of the Kindle Classroom Project last night when I received an email from DonorsChoose letting me know that DSW from Saratoga had made a $500 donation.

That $500 donation — the largest amount that DonorsChoose is matching this week as part of its Teacher Appreciation promotion — instantly doubled to a whopping $1,000.

This $1,000 donation marks the second major gift from DSW. Read about the first $1,000 donation last December.

Isn’t this amazing? Isn’t this slightly crazy?

I am astounded. I am intensely appreciative.

Thank you, DSW! Your contribution continues to encourage me to think bigger about what’s possible. I am no longer thinking small.

For example: Why stop at three classrooms (my current goal for next year)? Why not try to distribute Kindles to every ninth grader at a school?

Also: Why not proceed seriously to achieve classroom library mirroring, where every title on the Kindles has a physical counterpart on the shelves?

And one last thing: Why not think of making the Kindle Classroom Project into a full-fledged nonprofit organization?

All of these are reachable dreams because of this latest large donation. Thank you again, DSW! favicon

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Why classroom library mirroring is important

favicon I’ve written before about my goal of classroom library mirroring.

What’s that, you ask?

Classroom library mirroring means that every book that you have in your physical classroom library is also ready for students to read on their Kindles.

So if a title is on the shelf, it’s also on the Kindle — and vice versa.

There are many benefits of mirroring. The three biggest ones are:

  1. More than one student can read the same book at the same time,
  2. Physical books don’t get lost or damaged because they stay on the shelf,
  3. Students get the benefits of browsing (the colorful covers! the blurbs on the back!) for a book without all the painful side effects of checking one out. (Yes, say goodbye to all library checkout systems!)

I can see why some students (and teachers, and parents) might rebel against classroom library mirroring. After all, it’s pretty aggressive (and I’d love to hear your thoughts about it).

“You mean that I can’t read real books?” a student may ask.

Right now, I’m not ready to say what I want to say, which is, “Nope. You can’t read real books. But you can look at them here on the shelf and read them on your Kindle. And if you can’t deal with that, then try your public library!”

But I’d like to become bold enough to follow through with what I know is the right answer.

In order to get there, I need to make sure that true mirroring occurs. It’s not easy. Here is a case study of what I’m talking about:

Can you tell the big difference between the two photos? Yep, one of the physical books has an ebook counterpart, whereas the other doesn’t.

This happens a lot. My physical classroom library contains more than 500 books, while my ebook library has 205 titles. There’s a big gap there. The reverse is true as well. There are some books that are on the Kindles but not on the shelves. A generous donor may buy a title in one format but not in the other.

It’s time for me to make the investment to mirror the two libraries. It’ll be a big project. Three hundred books, after all, will cost around $3,000. This project might take a couple years, but I’m willing to be patient. After all, ebooks aren’t going away anytime soon, even if ereaders change and get fancier.

I also need to make sure to buy both formats of a book when a student makes a request. In other words, if a student wants to read The Future of Us, and I’m pretty sure that the title will be popular, my policy should be to order both the physical and ebook versions. For $20, the title is now available to all students forever. Not too shabby.

One more thing: an organizational challenge. Each ebook needs to be available to all students, but each title, according to Amazon policy, can be shared by only six devices at once. This has never been a problem so far, but it’s possible that more than six students at the same time would want to read the same book.

What do you think about my mirroring idea? Is it a little too much, or does it makes sense? I’d love to hear your thoughts. favicon

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The classroom library mirroring project

favicon I’m happy to report that our Kindle e-book library has now passed the 200-title barrier!

Now it’s time to get serious about achieving one of my dreams: the classroom library mirroring project.

Have no clue what that is? Maybe I need a better name for it. Let me try to explain it.

Students walk into the classroom and see their beautiful classroom library. They browse the shelves; they look at book covers; they flip through pages; they sample first chapters; they find a book they like and want to check out. But instead of taking the book off the shelf and signing it out, students take out their Kindle and read the book there.

That’s because every title in the physical classroom library also has a Kindle version.

There are so many advantages to this mirroring project. The biggest one is that there are no physical books to check out. They never get lost. They never get worn out in backpacks. They don’t need replacement after multiple reads.

There are a few drawbacks. One is that some (but not too many) students prefer the feel of physical books. Another is that losing a book is less tragic than losing a Kindle. But I’ve found that students tend to lose or destroy Kindles (there has been one mishap since 2010) far less often than they lose or destroy books.

Now comes the hard work: bridging the gap between the 201 titles in my Kindle library and the 627 books in my physical library. It’s not going to be easy; after all, my hope is to build the physical library to more than 1,000 titles as soon as possible. That means the Kindle library will likely always be playing catch up. But that’s OK, I guess.

What are your thoughts about this mirroring project? Do you have a better name for it? Any ideas about how to make it happen? favicon