Read between the screens

Jennifer Garrido, Lifestyles Editor

The bell rings; it’s the end of class. You realize you have homework due tomorrow out of the textbook. There’s only one problem: You have no textbook to work from.
This is the conflict that AP Environmental Science students such as Laura Vickers deal with nearly every night.

“Because there’s an excess amount of kids and a limited amount of books, we have CDs of the book that we take home in order to do our homework,” Vickers said. “I don’t really like it though because I’m used to traditional- style books, and in-class learning. I think a physical book is more of an aid than a computer screen where I have to scroll up and down to find information, whereas in a book I just flip pages.”

Although compact discs are supposed to provide a higher level of technology to access the material presented in class, junior Rianna Dunkel isn’t a fan.

“I refuse to use the CD completely. I already have horrible vision, and staring at a computer screen for hours will just make it worse,” she said.

Because there is a class set of books, students are able to sign one out and take it home. However, the limited quantity doesn’t leave much wiggle room.

“When we ordered books for the class back in 2006, there was only one class, and it consisted of at most 25 students,” Assistant Principal for Curriculum Claudia Shirley said. “Now that the class has grown to three periods at 25 students a class, we are definitely in short for books for the class. On the other hand, it really wouldn’t make any sense for

us to buy any new books this year because we get an allocation for new science books next year. So students will just have to wait until the 2011 edition comes out. It will be much more advanced and up-to-date with the environmental issues going on right now, such as the BP oil spill.”

The CDs being used in the class are a temporary solution, and a cost-effective one, seeing as they were a complimentary inclusion with the purchase of the books. They include PDF files of the information in the book as well as diagrams that students may use for reference.

“The fact that the material is on the computer can help the students out a lot,” APES teacher Kathy Gilio said. “They can copy and paste the diagrams into ‘Word’ and do their work straight from their computer.”

But unless the students have a laptop, the bus rides to and from sports games rule out the possibility of working from a computer.

“Many athletes ride the bus and want to work on homework while on the road. That’s where the problem comes along where they would need a physical book to work from,” Gilio said.
Clearwater High School in Pinellas County has initiated the idea of giving each students a Kindle wireless reading device as a substitute for carrying around textbooks.

“I think laptops are cumbersome; my ultimate dream is to give each student their own Kindle, and just download the e-books for each textbook,” Shirley said. “I would love to see a partnership with PTA, and perhaps we could get a grant for that. We would actually be saving money, considering the software e-book price is only nine dollars or so, whereas the textbooks are over one hundred dollars each.”