Earth Day 2.0

There has been a huge push to make a paperless Earth Day. There have been pleas on Twitter, how to ideas on Wikis, and reflective rationale on blog posts. Schools go through a huge amount of paper, much of it is a wasted resource, so it makes sense that we would re-evaluate paper usage/saving trees in honor of Earth Day.

Carbon footprint Calculator

There are many carbon footprint calculators online. I used them to calculate my own footprint. I liked the simplicity of the WWF calculator.

If I taught a subject besides Spanish, I could probably incorporate one of these into my classroom. I did find a Carbon Footprint calculator – but the vocab was above the students head. I also do not think they would know their yearly electricity use, miles traveled, etc.

Use of mobile devices

I think that the rise in use of mobile devices will decrease the everyday use of paper. This could include iPods and netbooks, both in and outside of the classroom. Instead of printing paper practice worksheets for students to complete, a teacher could easily create an online activity – for example using Just Crosswords, Quia, Quizlet, or Study Stack. Students could either use an App to complete the assignment (Quizlet = iReview App, StudyStack = gFlash+ App) or use a wireless internet connection to access the website. Sometimes it is honestly easier to create a digital resource (and you do not have to wait for the three day turn around to get it back from the print shop).

Digital textbooks

Textbooks are so expensive to buy, yet they become outdated so quickly. Why would districts continue to invest in paper copies? It might be fear of change, but eventually the money crisis is going to be the biggest fear. This is already the case in California. There has been media attention on Governor Schwarzenegger’s plan to save money by using open source, digital textbooks.

It is interesting to see the textbooks that have already been reviewed by the California Learning Resource Network. So far they have math and science content area covered. The CLRN has a statement from the Governor as well as links to their reports and reviews.

“From government to non-profit organizations, teachers to textbook publishers, we all have a role to play in leveraging 21st century technology to expand learning and better serve California’s students, parents, teachers and schools. This initiative will ensure our schools know which digital textbooks stand up to California’s academic content standards – so these cost-effective resources can be used in our schools to help ensure each and every student has access to a world-class education.” – Governor Schwarzenegger

The digital textbook initiative might start in California, but it is predicted to expand. Xplana predicts that by 2014, 1 out of 5 textbooks will be digital.

One interesting digital textbook company is Dynamic Books. The instructors can write/edit the book to specifically meet the needs and interests of the students.

Our curriculum is up for review this summer (and that will lead to our department considering a new textbook). I am seriously hoping that we can find a digital textbook. In a Foreign Language classroom, a textbook should only be a supplementary resource anyway. There are so many great, authentic (and often free) resources that teachers could take advantage of. A YouTube video in the target language is much more interesting and engaging than a textbook, digital or not.

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About Lisa Butler

Middle school teacher of Social Studies and Spanish, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of blogging and reviewing products. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading, baking, running, or traveling.
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