CD’s to Save Paper

School starts tomorrow, and I’ve spent the last hour and a half burning CD’s.  This is the second year that I have burned CD’s to hand out to my AP Environmental Science students.  Last year, as I began handing out CD’s instead of the regular syllabus, students were excited to see something new.  They liked that the CD’s came in colored envelopes, and the green ones became the big hit! Everyone wanted a green one, as they were fitting for the course.

I’ve mentioned a few times in the past that I hand out these CD’s, but I decided to write a whole post about them to describe what they contain.  Let’s start at the beginning.

Three years ago, there was a big initiative to reduce paper usage and photocopying in our school.  I have witnessed such creative ideas from my students, so I decided to let them brainstorm ways to reduce paper consumption for the AP Environmental Science class.  I felt then, and still feel now, that it’s our responsibility to lead the way in paper conservation.  My students came up with many ideas, from posting more assignments and links on my website to projecting assignments using the LCD projector and Walk&Talk (like a Smart Board) in my room instead of handouts.  Then, someone came up with the idea to give CD’s instead of handouts.  That, I thought, is a great idea!  So I set to work.

Now, for those of you who are teachers, you know what a big undertaking it is to plan for a year’s worth of learning.  It probably took me about six months to get the files ready.  I made a folder on my desktop, and as I used documents that I thought would be appropriate for a CD, I saved them to this folder.  By the next school year, I was ready to burn CD’s.

At this point, you’re probaby wondering what is actually on the CD.  Here’s a general list, with a few specific examples.

  • Articles: for example, The Tragedy of the Commons, which is an essential read if you’re interested in the environment.  The articles are in PDF format, as everyone can download a free Adobe PDF reader.  If I can’t find PDF versions online, I scan them.  By putting important articles throughout the year on the CD, it saves both a lot of paper and a lot of time that I would have spent at the copy machine.  Some students read the article right on the computer screen, while others are better able to read it on paper and will choose to print it.  When it comes to how students learn best, sometimes they have to have paper.  The choice is up to them.
  • Study Guides: Study guides for each chapter of reading, complete with guiding questions and key terms, are on the CD.  These will help students to better understand the reading.
  • Review Sheets: When it comes time for a test or quiz, instead of copying a review sheet handout, students already have it on their CD.  That means that students can refer to it at any time throughout the chapter, not just right before the assessment.  For example, students will benefit from the review sheet for their summer reading test, on the first 5 chapters of the text and Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.
  • Lab Handouts: By reading the handout the night before, students are better prepared to do the lab in class.  I will project important directions, so it is up to the student whether he or she prints the handout.
  • Lecture Notes: All of my notes are in the form of a PowerPoint.  Students have access to it, including the diagrams, on their CD’s.  Some students choose to print the outline ahead of time and take notes on it, while others don’t print them and use the PowerPoint later to review.
  • Project and Lab Report Rubrics: Ever have this experience? A project is due tomorrow, and the sheet that explains exactly what to do is lost! With a CD, it’s easy to find the directions again.  Parents are especially appreciative!
  • AP Exam Review Materials: Students can look over practice exam questions, along with the scoring information.  This is a great way for students to practice for the AP Exam on their own.

If you’re going to do something like this, it’s essential that your files are organized.  I have a folder for each unit, which makes it easy to find documents.  Also, it’s important that the titles of documents are descriptive.  For example, “Document 1” is NOT descriptive, and students will have a hard time finding what you want them to read if your titles are unclear.

It’s also important that all of your students have access to a computer.  Most students do have access at home, but those that don’t need to be able to get to one at school or at a library.  I’ve only tried this CD idea with my AP classes, as they tend to be highly motivated students that will go the extra mile to complete their assignments.  I’m honestly not sure as to how this would work in other classes, but I’d like to try it in the future.

I’ve finally finished burning and labeling the CD’s and putting them in their colored paper envelopes.  They’re all lined up like a rainbow on my coffee table right now, ready to be distributed tomorrow.  No matter what colors the kids choose, they’re all GREEN.

10 Comments

Filed under Sustainable Living

10 responses to “CD’s to Save Paper

  1. In 2006 (prior to having my son) I took some classes at our local university. They have a WebCT program and two of my three professors chose to take advantage of the program, which sounds very much like your CD but with online access instead. It was a fabulous experience. My Calculus prof even took advantage of a Smart Board and would upload notes after class that were specific to the work we had done in class. This was especially helpful, as sometimes things that are perfectly clear in class, can become rather foggy later on!

    Kudos to you for taking the time to do this — not only is it a green move, but from personal experience I think that it will also benefit their learning process!

  2. farmersdaughterct

    Hi Green Me. I didn’t know you were from around here! I’ve taken classes that use WebCT as well. That was a good experience for me, too. I liked to print the lectures ahead of time so I could take notes on them. I didn’t mention it in the post, but I also use a website to supplement the CD, since there’s no way that a CD given at the beginning of the year can cover everything in the course. I like to link to articles or upload assignments that are newly created.

  3. I do wish that I had the ability to make my classroom more environmentally responsible. I have taken to fishing through the trashcans for recyclables, which is less-than-pleasant, but there is such a paper waste. Unfortunately, the policies that are in place I can only do so much about… any ideas for convincing the higher ups that paper waste is irresponsible?

  4. Is it really reconcilable to replace paper with plastic? I mean, I know there’s a LOT of paper waste. But I would feel odd about only using a CD for one year. Hopefully they’ll look back on it in years to come. Or maybe you could collect them back at the end of the year?

  5. Cutting edge, Abbie! But we expect nothing less from you.😉

  6. farmersdaughterct

    Laura- Money. How much does the paper cost? That’s what it comes down to sometimes, how much the paper and toner for the copier costs.

    Stephanie- It’s not a perfect solution, that’s true. However, that small amount of plastic replaces a large amount of paper. I wouldn’t collect CD’s back, because the documents change a little bit from year to year. However, I would be willing to have students bring in jump drives or something different to save to.

    Green Bean- Thank you!

  7. Wow! Abbie, I’m so impressed! You actually “walk the talk” that you teach–especially in Environmental Science!

    I’m so excited that our school system is now encouraging teachers to use blogs to communicate with parents and students as a way to communicate more effectively without consuming so much paper! I’m so excited to offer e-news to our elementary school community!

    With such an emphasis on data in our schools, to inform instruction, I’m also excited that so much of it is being done electronically on shared network drives, also cutting down on cutting down trees (pun intended!)

    Your students must be so excited to be learning with YOU!

  8. I came by to see your Sunday Stroll, but had to tell you first how much I enjoyed this post. I am (slowly) working toward a teaching degree myself. This is such great information to have in advance. Thank you!

  9. Hi Abbie! That’s a great idea. My oldest daughter put boxes for recycled paper in all her classrooms last year and I picked them up each week and took them to the recycling bin. This year she is working with her Principal to initiate a recycling program at her school. I will definitely pass this along to her as something for her teachers to consider. I’m sure you can imagine how many handouts we recycle that have never even been used.

  10. Melanie

    I can’t believe you are just starting back to school. I’m already in my 5th week. I’m moving🙂

    I love your idea about the cd’s. This is my first year teaching environmental science and have been using my website to keep them organized and green. I have been printing notes but mostly because I have a lot of students with accommodation that require it. But once those are lost they are responsible for going to the website for reprints and additional info. I think I’m going to shoot for cd’s next year. I can’t wait to get it organized.

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