Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Kindles go to school in a big way this month


"The Kindles Are Coming: Ereaders and tablets are springing up in schools—and librarians are leading the way"
  That's the headline from The School Library Journal March 1.  It's a very long, detailed article, by Lauren Barack.

  She mentions what she calls "the three P's of librarianship -- participation, portability, and personalization" -- and says they are bundled "into one magical package."

  “The students can participate in saying what they want to read, the Kindles (UK: K3's) are portable, and there’s a personalized element,” says [Buffy Hamilton], the Canton, GA-based media specialist. “It’s going really well.”  Here's an excerpt from the article, which opens with a waiting list of students for five Kindles she bought for Creekview High School:
' Commonly spearheaded by librarians, Kindle pilot programs are springing up in schools around the country, bringing ereaders to K–12 students, who are cracking the spine, so to speak, on these alternative learning tools.  From full adoption of the devices at Clearwater High School in Florida to tentative beta projects such as Hamilton’s, educators are exploring how Kindles and other ereaders can mesh with curricula and enhance learning.
. . .
“That’s the most exciting part for me, seeing kids excited about reading,” says Hamilton, who launched her program in November 2010 after learning about librarian Kathy Parker’s Kindle project at Seneca (IL) Grade School...
Hamilton suggests ideas for funding of such programs, as well as detailing how she runs the program and improvements she'd like to see.  Also, she has contacted Amazon about getting better device limits and more school-friendly policies overall but Amazon has offered no exceptions, which is no surprise since by contract, publishers set the limits.

  The article also includes a complaint by Marcia A. Mardis, an assistant professor at Florida State University’s School of Library & Information Studies:
“I hesitate to teach students to look at one device,” she says.
  Her pet peeve with the Kindle?   The inability to print wirelessly—a function supported on the iPad [via apps]. 'For those kids who can’t take a Kindle home or comprehend a test, the inability to print has been a barrier,' says Mardis..." Barack continues:
' For its part, Amazon is trying to meet some of its user’s demands, last month adding page numbers to Kindle books, which correspond to the print version of a title.  For book clubs and classes using both printed books and Kindles, this will be a big plus.  Kindle users will also be able to share notes or highlighted text with their classmates. The new features, however, will only be available on the latest generation device, the Kindle 3. '

Meanwhile, Kindles are working out just fine at Chambersburg Area Middle School in south central Pennsylvania.  That’s according to Joanne Hammond, head librarian for Chambersburg’s school district and librarian at the middle school...In fall 2010, the program began in earnest when librarian Teresa Miller acquired the devices for the middle school, which now hosts a Kindle club, where student members can come into the library and grab a device for leisure reading.

“I love using the Kindle and I’m going to the library even more because of it,” says Andre Kerlin, a seventh grader at Chambersburg Middle School and a Kindle club member.  “I think it’s very cool to be able to read tons of books on one thing.”

Students have, in fact, picked up books (so to speak) that they may not have tackled if they’d seen the size of the printed volume, says Hammond...
. . .
Over at Chambersburg’s Senior High School, librarian Melissa Engel-Unruh has been using Kindles with her struggling readers. With 33 devices—more than enough for a classroom—she’s watched as the Kindle has caught on with teachers, too...
. . .
Chambersburg has since taken to another device. At J. Frank Faust Junior High School, librarian Katherine Miller used a $3,500 grant from the Greater Chambersburg Chamber Foundation to purchase five iPads.  Students are using the Apple tablets in the library to access iBooks.

A difference Miller’s already noted between the Kindle and the iPad’s iBook feature is the accommodation for multiple readers of the same title.  So, for example, if an eighth grader reading Sharon Flake’s You Don’t Even Know Me (Hyperion, 2010) is on page 35 of an iPad and a ninth grader is on page 79, the book will sync to whoever read it last.  So students have to jot down where they left off—not very 21st century.  This is not the case with the Kindle, which can hold places for individual readers, even if they’re reading the same book.
. . .
With budgets as they are, it’s unlikely many media specialists can purchase a full, school-wide set of ereaders anytime soon.  Still, most librarians believe they’d be amiss not to try piloting the devices with students, acquiring as many as school budgets and hard-earned grants will allow... '

"Better reading through technology in Dalzell"
The News Tribune's Matthew Baker writes about the Kindle project in Maggie Hachenberger's class at Dalzell School in Illinois.

  As you can see in the picture at the right, although the camera perspective makes the e-reader seem really huge, Kiara Atkinson is holding the earlier edition of the larger Kindle, the Kindle DX Graphite, which is relatively expensive!

  The school is small, with only 70 students, but they purchased 18 Kindles last summer, so at any time, about 25% of the student population can have a kindle in hand.  "Twelve of the Kindles are split between the junior high age students with the remaining six for younger students."
  Steve Parker, the principal was inspired by the success his wife, Kathy, a librarian at Seneca Grade School, was having with a similar program, and based on early successes, he hopes to purchase more Kindles next year.
'   According to teachers, the response to the Kindles by students has been great.  “They love it, it’s technology,” said third/fourth-grade teacher Maggie Hachenberger... A built-in dictionary feature allows students to discreetly look up difficult words without picking up an actual dictionary.
“So that helps with their vocabulary,” she said.

  The dictionary feature was useful for the fifth/sixth-grade students in Janette Gallup’s class as they attempted to decipher the 19th century terminology used in Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle.”
The students have been reading a variety of books and short stories on the Kindles and Gallup has seen results in her class.
“It has improved their fluency this year,” she said.
  The Kindles also come with a feature that will read the books’ content aloud, which comes in handy for some students.
  “Some children’s comprehension is better if they hear it instead of reading it to themselves,” Hachenberger said. [ Kindleworld note here: I don't see that this helps in Reading though! ]
  “It makes it easier to teach when they’re excited,” [Gallup] said.
  Students aren’t allowed to use the Kindles to go online, nor can they take them home.
. . .
  Although an exciting new initiative at the school, Groleau said teachers are not putting the flash of the new Kindles in front of effective teaching.
“A Kindle is a tool, it’s another way to get (students) to read,” Parker said. '

"Kindle program gets national eye" (Clearwater HS)
A follow-up news-article on Clearwater High School's Kindle project.  Here's the original long article on Clearwater's much larger experiment.

St. Petersburg Times's Dominick Tao writes that "...six months into an effort that has attracted national attention, students and teachers say the “Kindlezation” of their school has yielded clear benefits and limitations."
' Some classes are book-free, others are still book-bound as publishers scramble to digitize materials. Some teachers have been slow to adopt, others have eagerly embraced it. And even the digital natives students are divided, with some using the Kindle more than others.

But one thing was clear in a visit to the school this week: The devices are blending in, being used as often as a pen or pencil....
[Social studies teacher Kathy Biddle] said she has found students pushing her harder to grade tests faster because as soon as the grades are entered on her computer, students can see the scores on their Kindle, which is connected to the Internet and the school board’s servers.

  Students said a plus for them has been the ease of studying on the go, hard to do with a hulking textbook.
  “I can just easily flip through. Study anywhere,” said senior Nikki Hux.
  Hux, who is dual-enrolled at St. Petersburg College, said many college-level e-books are less expensive or free, saving her money.

  That many students take notes on the Kindle is something school principal Keith Mastorides said he was surprised by.
  “I didn’t expect a lot of use from those keyboards,” he said...
. . .
  One pressing student complaint and concern of administrators is the relatively small number of traditional textbooks available in a Kindle format.
  “It’s taken them a little longer,” Mastorides said of publishers.
  But Amazon, which holds weekly teleconferences with school officials, works with publishers to get more material and streamline the delivery process. '

MORE schools
Virgin Islands Daily News reports a small grant by St. John's Kids First!, for an elementary school, and will involve online instruction materials and tests for understanding of the materials read.  They point out that "there are over 30,000 children's books available online that can be reviewed and purchased in a matter of minutes at a cost up to 80 percent less than a bound book."

Possibly more unrealistically, Riverfront Times and Press of Atlantic City both report that a school district in Missouri approved a Kindles for Schools proposal that would, if formalized, "provide more than 2,000 students with an Amazon Kindle DX by the start of the next school year. Administrators are hoping that the tab will be picked up by electronic stores, as opposed to the school district. (Each Kindle DX cost $380.
' "This program would save the district a lot of money each year on textbooks," Superintendent Desi Mayberry told the A.P.  "If we were able to provide each student with a Kindle, students would be able to learn and access a whole world of information much quicker than they would through a regular textbook.  Students would have information instantly, rather than they would if they waited for a shipment of textbooks to arrive."'
Good luck on getting electronic stores to foot the Kindle DX bill for over 2,000 students.  Interesting though!

Kindle 3's   (UK: Kindle 3's),   DX Graphite

Check often: Temporarily-free late-listed non-classics or recently published ones
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.
UK-Only: recently published non-classics, bestsellers, or highest-rated ones
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  1. “Some children’s comprehension is better if they hear it instead of reading it to themselves,” Hachenberger said. [ Kindleworld note here: I don't see that this helps in Reading though! ]
    Hearing the words aloud WHILE READING ALONG helps the auditory learners connect what they're hearing with what they're reading visually. It helps write the brain pathways - so to speak. But even if they aren't reading along, it's still a great accommodation of different learning styles - making it much more than just a gimmick. Not that you implied that it was.

  2. Rebecca,
    Good point, except that I was going with the '"instead of" reading it to themselves' rather than WHILE reading along with it, which many children do to more easily learn how to read.

    See I use the read-to-me when doing other things and find it useful.

    So, we agree. I'm just not sure Hachenberger was describing how some children to use it to help with their reading. And if I wanted my child to learn to read I wouldn't like that they were depending on just listening 'instead.'... It could be that Hachenberger was misquoted...


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