Monday, September 24, 2007

Tinynews! Yay!

So, I figured out that my Razr phone can get the internet and, ergo, internet mail and NEWS! They had a $5 a month plan or a $1 for 24 hours. I chose the $1 plan to see how it works. I am pretty sure they will screw me on this somehow, probably with the hidden 25-year commitment or something, but what the heck. So, starting tomorrow, I will be paperless on the subway. I will now be one of the locos who looks like they are playing tiny video games on their phone instead of reading something. Woop! Give me tiny-news! (At least it isn’t Fox.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Gimme my morning paper!

Things I have already been doing to reduce my personal environmental impact:

  • Switched from disposable razors to a reusable handle with disposable blades.
  • Switched from can shaving cream to old-fashioned shaving soap (Burt’s Bees) and shaving brush in a mug.
  • We are slowly changing out lights in the house.
    We added power-bars to most electronics and *try* to remember to turn the bars off at night.
  • Switched from a table-top PC to Laptop (though I sprung for the really fast Alienware.)
  • Working on the paperless classrooms (see earlier posts).
  • I started using a glass bottle for water instead of plastic bottles and refill it at home and at school. This one significantly reduced our trash output.
  • We recycle paper for drafts and I bring used paper from work home to use for drafts here (it just goes into recycling there with only one side used).
  • We used the AC almost not at all this summer.
  • Subscribed to magazines I like rather than picking them up at the stand.

Things I am planning on:

  • Putting mini-blinds on all windows for winter.
  • Reducing over-all trash output by cooking from scratch more (we do a lot already, but when we get busy with writing and school, takeout starts looking really nice and easy).
  • Looking for electronic versions of magazines.

Things that I still can’t do:

  • Giving up the morning paper on the subway.
  • Composting. We live in an apartment. I know about the worms in a box thing, but . . . yuck!

    Well, that’s a start anyway.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jones-ing for Handouts

What is a teacher without handouts? I actually made 7 copies to handout to groups today for their library assignment and it felt GOOD. There is something about that paper that has authority. For next time, I may make this an online quiz but I will need to be sure that the students can access it while on task in the library. PDAs would be great, but that would take a grant at least.

Random thought: I miss the card catalog in the library!

My goal for the week is still unfulfilled. I have yet to find a replacement for my morning newspaper. There should be some way to download a Metro or something to my PDA. I’ll give it another shot tonight.

Total pages used to date: 14.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Being Louis

I'm back from the beach where I tried to get a tan like Louis but mainly got a red neck because I was hunched over reading the whole time. I have already imagined all possible jokes about this, so consider this mini-blog a preemptive strike. Yes, I know. Texan. Red-neck. Funny. I get it.


P.S. Prof. Lucca (aka "Dr. Lou") is now online with us! Check the links to the right.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Day Three

Day three without paper in the class and I estimated that this has saved approximately 20 sheets of paper per student already. That would be 1000 sheets saved already! But it is becoming increasingly difficult as I am now giving lots of verbal directions (how to create a blog) and demonstrating on the wall-projector in the computer lab how to do things such as navigate the web and etc. I seriously need to work on embedding links into my web-documents and whatever else I can do to get us through some of the more technical tasks of setting up the class such as how to use MSWord, how to make a blog, how to log in to Blackboard, all the “how to’s.” I am still not sure how to make the library scavenger hunt coming up “paperless.” I may have to go “low paper” instead by using a smaller font, one page per group and etc. It helps to pretend that paper is $1 a sheet. Sure, I’d pop for $5 but $25? Another good note, the students haven’t been printing either! They are actively avoiding it as well without my prompting.

Using the blogs to replace traditional journals really looks like it is going to work great. The students seem to be pretty into it and I like the pedagogical potential of the public nature of their compositions.

Still no computer in my office. Still no watch. I did buy a new flash drive, but I'm having a hard time trusting it not to go wonky. Oh well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Now where'd I leave that flash drive?

Day Two

It was very odd to be working without a paper syllabus the first day and I found that I was nervous about the prospect. Though I did have one hard-copy of everything, the thought of being heavily dependent on PowerPoint and Blackboard and the computers (I did not bring blue-books for backup) caused me more stress than usual for a first day, but the students were fine and class moved along fine. I also noticed two things: 1) I have a tendency not to proofread as well on screen as in hard-copy and found a few mistakes in my syllabus and assignments and, 2) I do not yet work as well off of PowerPoionts as from an in-hand assignment and have a bit of a “chaotic” feel to my presentation of material in Blackboard as I can go in any order. I’ll have to learn to use the non-linearity to advantage in the class. That, I should get better at with time.

The computer in my office is still out. My watch is still dead. My flash drive is now acting wonky as well. Ah for the days of scratching on one rock with another (though I do not miss the sound of chalk as it always sort of creeped me out.) The students are all good with MSWord and tech stuff, so I had all of them logged-in and ready to go ahead of schedule. And the best part is, they seem to be working with minimal multi-tasking, though my ears aren’t used to this lab yet and since this is an Apple lab, the mice sound different. Yes, I can usually hear “double-clicking.” I’ve been doing the lab thing for years.

Now, where did I leave that flash drive? Damn.

Monday, September 10, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

My name is C. Jason Smith. The “C.” stands for “Christopher,” but I go by “Jason” or “Dr. Smith” depending on whether or not I check your attendance and regularly give you grades. My parents call me “Jabo.” I have no idea why. Originally from Marshall Texas, I am an Associate Professor of English at LaGuardia Community College of the City University of New York in New York City which is specifically in Long Island City, Queens for those of you who care about such things. I am also a free-lance writer.

Trying to get into the spirit of the new
Common Reading for LaGuardia Community College, which is Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, I decided to try and green my classroom by having my students engage in environmental impact awareness projects and to engage myself in making my class preparation and pedagogy as low impact as possible without seriously impeding my ability to teach, or the student’s ability to actively engage with the course and learn.

This is my blog. Classes start today.

In order to significantly reduce the impact of my classes on the environment, I decided that my first task would be to attempt to go “paperless” as much as possible. I currently teach in both computer classrooms and “smart” classrooms and have taught online courses in the past, so this seemed a reasonable goal for the semester as all of my materials are already on the web in an educational program called Blackboard6. My students can, of course, print off what they need, but I’m thinking of all the syllabi I run each semester and all the assignments and all the “extra” copies I make “just in case.” Last semester I filled a whole paper box with “extra copies” and drafts of student papers. To heck with that! Today I am down to ONE copy of everything “just in case”. The rest is online and in my Bb6 site “just in case.” If worse comes to worst, I will get innovative and write on the board.

What could happen?

Well, for starters, my office computer crashed at 8:00 am just as I was reviewing my online courses and PowerPoints. However, most of the material had been uploaded to the Bb6 site already so I was, after a moment of hysteria, ready to go. I had some other technical issues with the course as well. This class is a liberal arts capstone on humanism, technology, and science, so the whole thing was pretty funny . . . or will be someday when I tell it at a bar. We made it through. Day One of class and I used a total of 6 printed pages rather than, literally, hundreds! Yay me.

Did I mention my watch stopped working this morning as well and I backed up my PDA the wrong way and whiped out most of my semester schedule. Is it possible God doesn’t want me to be low impact? Maybe I am destined to bring the End of Days one piece of paper at a time. Hmmm.