Tagged: my bloody life

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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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Putting on a book fair, the easy (and free!) way

2013-12-06 08.47.36favicon As a literacy coach, my primary job is to work with teachers to improve reading and writing instruction. But a related goal is to help promote a culture of reading among students.

So far, it’s been really fun — and we’ve had quite a bit of success!

Last June, the principal at my Oakland school had a dream that came from a warm childhood memory. “Can we have Scholastic come to our school and do a book fair?” she asked.

I said sure, but Scholastic is better known for its books for younger kids. Their selection for urban teenagers of color is extremely limited. Plus, their book fairs are either expensive or tough to manage. There’s a lot of set-up and upkeep and takedown and drama.

So I countered. “How about doing our own book fair?” The principal agreed but wondered how we would pull it off. “Won’t it be a lot of work?”

It turns out, no, it didn’t take a lot of work. Actually, it was pretty easy, thanks to the wonderful teen librarians at the Oakland Public Library. The vice principal and I called up Brian Boies, the lead TeenZone librarian, and his staff pulled 150 high-interest titles (both fiction and nonfiction) for us to borrow for the book fair. I drove over in my Honda Civic and loaded the back seat with mountains of books.

Then, we elicited the help of our student librarians, who have already gained fame this year after founding the school’s new library. They sorted the books into genres, got tables and signs ready, and double checked the day’s schedule. English teachers brought in their classes in 20-minute installments, and each student got to browse, talk with the student librarians about books, and write down three titles they might want to read.

Here are a few more photos from the day:

Here’s the best part: The principal has decided to allocate funds so that all students will receive, right before Winter Break, at least one of the books on their list! Not a bad way to go into vacation!

Even if the book fair did not lead to the purchase of new books for students, it would have been a big success. Students got connected to good books. More important, students got connected to other students who like good books. There was much joy, and the joy was about reading. favicon

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New epidemic on campus: Reading While Walking

favicon Reading has officially caught on at my school. The combination of choice, high-interest  books, and an extensive Kindle library has propelled some students to a dangerous new pastime: Reading While Walking, also known as RWW.

Our school hallways were already precarious even before this new phenomenon. To navigate the crowds, you sometimes need the skills of a running back or a slalom skier.

But RWWers have taken a different approach:

1. Stick out your book or Kindle at arm’s length.

2. Read your book.

3. Walk slowly and deliberately, as if you’re a zombie.

The zombie description isn’t way off, actually. After all, these RWWers are definitely in The Reading Zone.

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet captured any RWWers on camera, but I hope to snap a few photos soon. Until then, I will say that Reading While Walking occurs more often in boys than girls.

Their favorite books right now? Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian and Reymundo Sanchez’ My Bloody Life: The Making of a Latin King.

Plus, it helps to be tall and strong — so if you bump into someone, you don’t fall over. favicon