Thursday, July 2, 2009


Rain, Rain, Rain. If I tweeted, I would tweet: My Kindle wireless does not connect in the rain. And that is not OK because I have just purchased/selected (for free) four new texts and a new application. The texts are classics mostly: Grimm's fairy tales, a short story called "The Rats in the Walls," Treasure Island, Complete Sherlock Holmes, and something called "Literature Circles" (can't remember why I needed this one - it was very cheap).

I am focusing on the Kindle because I have, in fact, been awarded a $2700 grant to purchase a starter set (with texts both print and audio and cases) for my classroom next year. I have been in various Kindle discussions to ask advice. Here is what I have learned:
  • With the exception of one school that has purchased a total of 90 Kindles, I seem to be a pioneer
  • No one has experience with setting up a "non personal" account to handle purchasing
  • Corporate accounts will accept PO's and provide pre-purchase invoices, but our school will not or can not set one up
  • Every Kindle purchase can be installed (downloaded to) 6 devices
  • One poster suggested that I ask Amazon to allow me 7 devices because this is a "special case" - no response from Amazon
I have been using my Kindle for a few months, trying out its features. I do like the audio books - easy to download and install (but I need to use one of my laptops, then transfer the files). It seems that an .mp3 can play simultaneous with a text - so if I can convert my audio files to .mp3 (from mpb?), I can have them play as students read. That would be fabulous! As it is, most books support the built-in "text-to-speech" function (not Random House publications) - and this is pretty good. The pace can be slowed to support struggling readers, one key will pause the text (for highlighting, word look-up, discussion, bathroom breaks), and pages are automatically turned.

We will begin the class journey by reading fairy tales and fables - so free Kindle texts will be abundant. I have located enough Kindle texts to create at least three levels of reading for my Rats! literature circle, and our all-read text (The Dark is Rising) is available for Kindle - I have already read it and created a set of notes, which I plan to distribute in a NoteShare notebook AND load on all classroom Kindles, along with the novel. NoteShare's voice recording will make it easy for me to upload .mp3 versions of student-read tales. Amazon's file conversion will make it easy for me to distribute copies of student-written tales (which will also be in the online notebook). Those are just a few of the options I will be exploring for simple tools integration. All of this is with both the struggling and the advanced student in mind.

All in all, this seems to be a very satisfactory beginning to an experiment. I am looking foward to the summer's work - perhaps that rain is kindling some good learning after all!

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