Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The power of Kindles in literary analysis

Today my freshmen were discussing chapters 8, 9 and 10 of The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd.  As we are approaching the end of the novel, I am starting to highlight possible topics for a final essay that are coming out of our discussions. 

Today, a student brought up the author's continued use of fire and heat as a motif throughout the novel.  I pointed out that that would make a fascinating essay topic.  It could even be juxtaposed with the author's use of water.  My star Kindle student, Ellie, opened up her Kindle for PC app and did a quick search of the text.

"The word 'fire' appears 54 times in the book," she interjected.  The collective head of the class swiveled in her direction.  I briefly explained that with the Kindle app, you can search the entire text for a word or words. 

"'Water' appears 83 times, and 'wet' appears another 15."  The class was gasping and excitedly asking about other terms. 

"What about 'earth' and 'dirt'?  We already have fire and water, what about the other elements?" 

"'Dirt,' 30 times, 'earth,' 17."  The oohs and aahs continued. 

"Think of how quickly Ellie can find a quote she is looking for, or look for other quotes related to her topic," I added.  The envious nods swept through the room. 

This was an aha! moment for many of them.  We are a laptop school, so the Kindle app is at their fingertips.  This Kindle movement is coming from the grassroots up. 

Stay tuned for an interview with Ellie in the coming week!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Off we go!

We are comfortably into the school year now, and it is time to check in with my Kindle classroom.

On the first day of class, I was so happy to see that 3 students had done their summer reading on their Kindles!  I love that it is becoming a part of our culture to use an e-reader.  Some students confidently entered on the first day with their Kindles and some were excited to learn that using Kindles they already owned was an option.

One particular student, Ellie, is very computer savvy, and has been seamlessly using her Kindle and Kindle for PC app in class.  She does most of her reading on her Kindle, but uses the app on her laptop in class to easily search the text, make highlights and write comments as we discuss the text.

I have some students with Kindles who are unfamiliar with the Kindle for PC app, so I have created a screencast to highlight some of the main features.  You can watch that below.

I am going to profile and interview Ellie for an upcoming post so you can hear about using a Kindle in the English classroom from a real student!

How to download the app: (HH students: you probably already have it on your laptop.  Check before you download.)

How to use the app: