Kindles in the Classroom?

After several months of longing for one, I finally rationalized getting a Kindle a few weeks ago. I love it! I thought I would miss reading “real” books. And don’t get me wrong, I’ll still use those. But since I also love gadgets, I fell in love with this pretty fast! The button placement is intuitive. It’s light and easy. I also love being able to carry around so many books at a time. The screen is easy on the eyes. It’s not a “computer” screen. It looks like a page in a book.

I immediately began brainstorming ways to use these in school. They’re cheaper than laptops and roughly the same price as iPod touches, but with larger screens. Perhaps they would be a nice addition to classrooms for reading? But will kids like them?
I did some research and found out that many people are already using them in classrooms.

Here are a few examples:

Kathleen Parker has been using them in middle school with her reading intervention groups. Her students seem to really enjoy using the Kindles. They say:
“One reason we like Kindles better than using a book because we can change the font size. We like the largest font because it makes us read faster.  Another nice thing is to use the dictionary when we don’t know what a word means right away.  Also, another feature is we like the fact we don’t have to carry around alot of books because the Kindle has a variety of titles downloaded onto it.”

WorldReader.org is using them in Ghana to teach reading. Students are loving them! They read during recess, during lunch, and when they get home, they read to their families.

I’m not too surprised that the kids seem to love them. They do usually adapt easily to new technology. From personal experience, my students have always picked using computers over paper & pencil – any day of the week!

What about the functionality for using in the classroom? Here are some of the highlights:

  • Changeable Font Size. The more student reviews of the Kindle I read, the more I see that students really like the largest font size available and they feel it helps them read faster.
  • You can send a purchased Kindle book to 6 devices, which would reduce the cost involved in buying books.
  • The highlighting & note-taking features. Students in middle school all the way up through college seem to like this.
  • You can upload PDF documents by connecting the USB (comes with the Kindle) to your computer. However, with PDFs, you can’t change the font size)
  • Syncing with smart phones and Computers (Mac & PC). Your books are in all 3 places. The software will keep your spot no matter which device you’re reading on. This can allow for flexibility in classrooms – desktops & iPod touches can add to your collection of Kindles. OR you could just use the Kindle software on the iPods & computers without buying Kindles.
  • If you don’t like the idea of buying ebooks, you can create your own! Think about creating a collection of resources for your students on a particular topic? Maybe you need some articles on the solar system or about a volcano eruption that happened last week or a collection of articles about Italy to go along with a novel you’re reading in class?

eReadUps creates custom ebooks for the Kindle (and other ereaders). It accesses Wikipedia, Medpedia, Wikitravel and Wika. I get the feeling that they’ll be accessing a lot more resources in the future. Anyway, it’s super easy to do – you type in your topic and all the articles come up. You check mark the ones you want, and eReadUps will combine them all into an ebook in whichever format you choose. When you select the Kindle format, the book comes with all the features of any Kindle book. For example, you can change the font size, rotate the screen, listen to the text-to-speech option, make notes and highlights, etc.
Think about the paper you would save! Rather than printing out a “packet” of documents, each student could view them on their Kindles OR on the computers in your room OR iPod touches, etc.
By the way, to get access to all the sources available on eReadUps, click “join” and enter your email. They’ll send you a beta code to sign in. Go ahead and check it out! Even without a Kindle. Remember you can download the Kindle app for FREE for PC, Mac, Blackberry, iPhone or iPad here.

I’m just scratching the surface, so here are more links to read about Kindle in the classroom:

EduKindle EduKindle Ning

Article about the Darden School of Business using Kindle with students

Article on the Pros and Cons of E-Readers in Education

I’m sure there are a lot of details to work out to using this emerging technology, but doesn’t our Librarians 2.0 Manifesto state that we’ll embrace technology even before it is “perfected.”  Bottom Line: In my opinion, E-readers have a lot of potential for use in the classroom.

Pamela Hill

Library Media Specialist

New Hope Elementary – Dalton, GA

http://www.whitfield.k12.ga.us/nhe/MediaCenter.html

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Posted on April 17, 2010, in Reading. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Trying to raise enough to buy 12 for my classroom!

  2. I’d like to thank you for mentioning me and what we’re doing with Kindles in the classroom. Keep reading our updates at: http://www.edukindle.ning.com
    Kathy Parker
    @marianslibrary

  3. I have a Kindle and I really enjoy using it. The one thing I have found is that flipping around from location to location is difficult. For this reason, I prefer to use it for leisure rather than academic reading. I also don’t like that the highlighting and bookmarking doesn’t have organizational capabilities.

  4. There’s lots to think about with e-readers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and sparking this conversation among us once again.

  1. Pingback: Keeping out the giraffes « READINGPOWER

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