Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Active Reading and Sharing on Social Media on the Kindle

Active reading is a top priority in my classroom, and in the classrooms of most English teachers. One common question I get is, how can students actively read on the Kindle?  In the first video I will show you how you can highlight and make a note while you read, and also share it to Twitter.  (I am on vacation in Topsail Beach, North Carolina right now, and that's the ocean you hear in the background.)

In the second video, see what that note looks like on a Twitter feed.

My vision for the coming year is to highlight and make notes on passages that I want students to pay close attention to.  I think it would be cool to highlight a passage we will be discussing in the next lesson and in the note I can pose a thought-provoking question.  Students can then preview the passages and topics that will be discussed in the upcoming class.  For example, I might highlight a particular literary device or narrative technique that we are currently studying.  I could also highlight a symbol and my note could challenge students to consider a deeper significance to the passage.

If I have any students using Kindles, I would love to have them share their notes.  Other students and I can follow those notes and gauge the reaction to the night's reading.  I think of it as a way to get the discussion started before class even begins.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Joanne Harris tweeted me!

This is what I am talking about people.  You highlight, you blog about it, you tweet it, and the author tweets back!

I have been reading the books on my sophomore summer reading list (which I have included at the end of this post, in case you are interested.)  I just finished Chocolat by Joanne Harris.  I adored it.  The sophomores have to blog about their summer reading, so I joined in and wrote my own post about Chocolat.  I tweeted it and tagged the author.  She tweeted back!

I feel all a-flutter!  I really loved her book, and it is so cool that she read my post!  I am going to start tagging all of the authors of my Kindle highlights!  Amazing how social media can connect us all.

English II Choice Lists

Choice List A
Choose 1
Choice List B
Choose 1
An Ordinary Man*
by Paul Rusesabagina

Persepolis I: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis II: The Story of a Return
by Marjane Satrapi

Sarah’s Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay

Dispatches from the Edge
by Anderson Cooper
by Joanne Harris

The #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith

Memoirs of a Geisha*
by Arthur Golden

Maus: My Father Bleeds History
and Maus: And Here My Troubles Begin
By Art Spiegelman

The Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress*
by Dai Sijie
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan*
by Lisa See

The Camel Bookmobile
by Masha Hamilton

Sister of My Heart
by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Pomegranate Soup
by Marsha Mehran

Things Fall Apart
by Chinua Achebe

Between Shades of Gray
by Ruta  Sepetys

*Indicates adult subject matter or language.

While students only need to read one book from each list,
students are encouraged to read further from these lists.  These works
provide an excellent introduction to the study of Literature of the World.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Fontacular, Fontacular!

I stumbled upon a great poem about the Kindle and its font options, I thought I would share it:

This poem was written by Bufo Calvin can be read in its entirety on the I Love My Kindle blog.  The excerpt below was used with permission.

Whatever happened to reading a book?

The font’s a bit boring, I think that I’ll change it
This menu right here will let me rearrange it
I’ll make it much bigger, no, smaller, no darker
I won’t need my glasses: take that, Dorothy Parker!
Wow, this is such fun: I feel like the Sheriff!
Curlicues out of town! I’ll go with sans serif!
Mwah hah hah! Now I’ll switch it and put white on black!
All you layout artists are under attack!
I’ll do it my way, I don’t care what you want!
I’m finally freed from the force of the font!

One of my first pitches to people in favor of the Kindle, is the control you have to change the font.  As a teacher, I often bemoan the tiny font, minuscule margins and cramped lines of many trade and mass market paperbacks.  Tiny font and crammed pages tends to start students off on the wrong foot and make the reading feel like a chore.  Personally, I hate it when I am at the gym and I can't read the book I am obsessed with as I bounce along on the treadmill or elliptical machine.  

Enter the Kindle!  On my touch I can pinch or spread the screen with my thumb and index finger to make the font bigger or smaller.  I can make the line spacing larger or smaller and choose margin size.  I can also change from a serif to a sans-serif font.  The white on black that Bufo Calvin mentions in the poem is an option you have when reading on the Kindle for PC app.  

Watch me demonstrate in this video below!

If you want to see written directions, you can follow this link to read Amazon's instructions on changing font and spacing.