Tagged: winter break

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Kindle Classroom Project:

Any book, anytime, anywhere

favicon A few weeks ago, I reported that students in the Kindle Classroom Project were reading over Thanksgiving Break. Well, the reading is continuing over Winter Break, too!

Students are reading and finishing books, and they’re requesting new ones. Thanks to generous KCP supporters ($390 in donations just this week!), I’m able to honor students’ requests, no matter when they send them to me — morning, noon, or night!

The KCP believes that students should be able to read any book, anytime, anywhere. This means books that they want to read, not that they’re told to read. This means mornings before school, evenings after school, weekends, Thanksgivings, winter breaks, and summers. And this means at home, on the bus, at their grandparents’ house—and everywhere in between.

Here is just a snapshot of the reading that is happening right now:

I continue to be pleasantly surprised about how much science fiction and fantasy that KCP students in Oakland are devouring. This is Kaleka’s third year in the program, and she has no problem requesting books she wants to read. In fact, a few days ago, she emailed me in a panic that Zodiac was not appearing on the Kindle. (It was my mistake, which I fixed.) I love receiving Kaleka’s reviews and kind words about the KCP.

I was very happy to see that Maria made a request today of Eleanor and Park, a popular title among KCP students. (The license limit had been reached.) Sometimes, Maria feels shy to request new books, but her adviser and I keep on reminding her that the KCP is about reading and that Maria shouldn’t feel bashful.

Stephen just received his Kindle Fire a few months ago. I helped him set it up, plus I showed him the website, and it didn’t take long until he became a voracious reader. Now he is feeling comfortable requesting books; Calamity is his latest choice. Good thing KCP sustaining supporter Nicole (Quincy, MA) pledged a recurring Amazon Allowance. (Thank you!) Stephen knows that Nicole has his back.

Is this all as uplifting to you as it is to me? If it is, I have a button for you to press!

What’s great about donating to the Kindle Classroom Project is that 100% of your gift (after PayPal’s fee — if you want to avoid it, go here) goes to buying books that students want. These are not books that I think students might like; these aren’t books for whole-class novel study; these aren’t “good-for-you” books that students “should read.” Rather, these are books that students request, 100%.

Your gift also doesn’t go to administrative costs, like keeping up this website, or sending you a thank-you card, or the hours of work volunteers will put in at the Kindle Prep Party next month (want to come?). It goes to a student who gets to choose a book.

And then a few more cool things happen once the student gets the book they’ve requested. The book is never lost; it never goes missing; it never gets destroyed through over-reading; and it’s shared with all the students in the Kindle Classroom Project. In other words, your donation is a permanent one to students in Oakland and San Francisco.

If you’re maybe interested in donating but not quite sure, feel free to contact me. There’s an “Email Us” button at the bottom right of the screen. Have a great Winter Break! favicon

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Next up for the Kindle Classroom Project: Building the Kindle Library to 500 titles

favicon It’s been a whirlwind of a Winter Break for the Kindle Classroom Project. Some highlights:

– I counted Kindles (226 on Christmas, now 233),
– I tracked where the Kindles have come from (including 29 states),
– Teacher Kathleen Large and I prepped 60 Kindles for her students in SF,
– The KCP has a new online business card,
– There’s a new book request form and a new books completed form for students,
– The KCP received a $2,000 donation from DSW (Saratoga, CA),
– There’s a new, super super easy and safe way to donate to the KCP,
– The Kindle Library is now updated and on Goodreads,
– The KCP was featured in an Edutopia interview,
– There’s a new application for prospective KCP teachers.

If I do say so myself, that’s not bad! So, what’s next up?

It’s pretty clear: 2015 will be the year of the Kindle Library.

The KCP is as good as its books. The Kindles are wonderful, and they’re obviously necessary, but unless the Kindles have good books, there’s no reading. There’s no magic. (Magic is good.)

I am very proud of the current Kindle Library. Thanks to generous donors, it includes 380 high-quality titles that are accessible to all 233 students. The library has books that students want to read. Like these:

My Bloody Life   Divergent   Buck

But I’m confident that the Kindle Library can get bigger and better. In 2015, I want to build the library to 500 titles. There will be two ways:

Continue honoring my promise to students: If they want to read a book that is currently not in the Kindle Library, I’ll buy it for them.

Introduce new high-quality books that students may not know about yet.

I would like to invite you to help build the Kindle Library in 2015. A $10 donation means a student gets a new book he or she wants to read.

Even better: The book never gets lost or worn, and it automatically becomes available to all 233 students in the KCP.

Donating takes less than a minute. (You can even be advanced and become a monthly supporter.) There’s an enormous button right here for you to click. Do you see it? It’s right here, ready for clicking.

Donate Now

(If you’d like other ways to donate, please visit the Contribute page.)

With your help, raising the $1,200 in 2015 to push the Kindle Library up to 500 titles will not be an insurmountable challenge.

As always, I want to thank all the generous donors to the Kindle Classroom Project. It’s simply unfathomable to think how much growth there has been the past two years. Thank you again, and Happy New Year! favicon

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Improvements to my English class

Booksfavicon January is a great time to make changes. After all, most students completely forget about school over Winter Break. Teachers can take advantage of that amnesia and implement improvements to their classes.

That’s what I’ve been doing. Even though my AP English class last semester was excellent, I am making some significant changes to improve my students’ learning. Here are a few of them:

1. Reading is the focus. Last semester, we focused on writing. And there’s more work we need to do. But my emphasis on writing shortchanged the importance of reading. Because reading is 45 percent of the AP test, and because reading is crucial for college (and for life), I am going to highlight reading and spend more class time helping my students read challenging texts.

So far, this is working well. My students are loving The Scarlet Letter, not just because of my enthusiasm for the book but also because I’ve purposely slowed down the reading pace at the beginning so everyone is on board. We spent the first few class periods reading as a class, then in groups, and finally in silence.

I’m realizing how crucial the teacher’s role is in motivating students to read. Even though this is a college-level course does not mean that I can just assign books and expect students to read them (and then get mad if they don’t). If I’m going to assign reading, it’s my job to teach reading. It’s my job to make the book fun and to prove to the students that they shouldn’t give up.

2. Homework is every night. Most teachers assign homework per class, not per night. An assignment is due the next class, and students have until then to complete it. For my students, that doesn’t work. They put off the assignment until the last minute instead of doing a little bit each day.

This semester, I’m assigning homework seven nights a week — yes, even including Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I want to impress on my students the importance of daily study. Sure, college won’t be this way, and perhaps I’m enabling my students by telling them exactly how to do their work. Their professor next year won’t care, and maybe my students will flounder. Nevertheless, my job this year is to get my students to read and write well. So far, this little change is making a big difference in homework completion.

3. We’re meeting every other Saturday. There just isn’t enough class time to prepare for the test. So I got my students an AP English prep book (with a DonorsChoose grant) and hosted our first AP Saturday a few days ago. We focused on test taking strategies, especially on the reading section. (The test is not easy.) My students would rather sleep in or do something more fun on a Saturday morning, but they all showed up, and I know that they secretly appreciate my commitment.

I am hopeful that these changes will improve the class and encourage my students to work hard. We have only five months before the AP test, and I’m getting nervous about their chances to pass. I’d love it if they did well on the test; all we can do now is keep pushing. favicon