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May 31, 2017 Moving Toward a Paperless Classroom By Shari Edwards
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Whether you’re coming from a position of wanting better organizational management or a desire to be more earth friendly, you may be considering decreasing the amount of paper in your classroom next year. Summer is the perfect time to compose a plan for losing the mountains of paper that most teachers battle with every year.

    It might be easier than you think to move your classroom closer to a paperless environment. With a few pieces of equipment you may already have available, you’ll find yourself well on your way to a more organized, less cluttered, and ecofriendly environment for you and your students.

    A quick disclaimer: I’m not promoting getting rid of print books in most cases because of the benefits gained in the development of reading skills when children have real books in their hands. (That doesn’t hold for those 25-year-old encyclopedias you might have hiding on a shelf somewhere! There are many online resources that can replace them now!)

    Materials you’ll need to get started: smartphone with a scanning app, online file storage program, computer, printer, sheet protectors, and dry erase markers.

    Organize Teaching Files

    Clear that file cabinet — Scan or photograph worksheets that are important to you and recycle the paper copies you’ve been holding onto for so long! Turn the scans into PDFs that can be organized and stored electronically for easy, searchable access. Most likely, you will find many items that can be recycled without scanning.

    Find a good scanning app for your phone with the capacity to save files as PDFs. I use Genius Scan from the Apple Store but there are many good products out there.  

    Store files electronically for easy access — Do you feel anxious just thinking about locating a specific file on your computer? There are ways to fix that! Store your often-used PDF documents, photos, notes, plans, etc., in an online program that can be accessed anywhere and from any device.

    Set up folders based on seasonal, monthly, or topical/skill-based activities, depending on your needs. Files can be organized for easy access and planning.

    My favorite app for online storage is Evernote. It’s easy to use, can be accessed from any device, syncs, and saves files whenever a change is made so you can access from school or home and get the most up-to-date files.

    Reuse and repurpose — Use your file cabinet to store confidential files, that should never be stored on an online storage site, and class sets of often-used worksheets in page protectors that can be used, reused and repurposed.

    Copying a class set of worksheets and storing them together in sheet protectors, will save paper in the long run. Graphic organizers, maps, charts, and texts are good examples of materials that work well in this format. Dry erase markers can be used on the protectors and wiped clean after you have seen, and maybe photographed, the content of student work.

    First step — No time for a full file cabinet cleanout? Take a step in the right direction! Plan to file any new pieces of paper electronically and work on one file from the cabinet at a time.

    Plan for Less Paper

    Sarah Forster (aka Paper Nada) is a seventh grade social studies teacher at Jardine STEM and Career Exploration Magnet Middle School in Wichita, Kansas. She and her students have turned their classroom into a, virtual, paperless learning space.

    Most of their work is done on computer and she uses technology and visuals to support her teaching. She uses a storage program provided by her school district to share documents with students and they turn their work in using the same program. Next year, they will be moving to Google Drive. Students can access this network from home or school. When paper is necessary, its use is thought out beforehand and used wisely and sparingly.   

    Forster and her students have daily access to a wireless lab in their classroom. Not everyone is that fortunate but everyone can be conscious of paper use and adjust activities to conserve.

    Tips to Cut Down on Paper

    USE the paper! — When you ARE using worksheets, copy on both sides or have students save a one-sided worksheet for later use.

    Graphic organizers — Students can learn to draw their own graphic organizers on the back of a worksheet. This saves paper and ink, and teaches them a skill that might come in handy later!

    Class sets — Store class sets of paper resources, such as maps and graphic organizers, that can be used for multiple years. Place each copy in a sheet protector and store in a labeled folder in a file cabinet. Keep a set of dry erase markers for writing or underlining text on the sheet protectors. Students can erase markings when finished for reuse.

    Use online resources — There are many quality sites on the web that teachers can use to enhance their lessons. Whether students work alone, in partners, or as a teacher led activity on an interactive whiteboard; audiovisual activities are effective, engaging, and build background knowledge.

    Forster goes over, and sends home, a list of rules that she strictly enforces when it comes to care and use of the electronic devices in her classroom. Students who break those rules will do their work on paper for a week. The work is easily printed for the student. She rarely has a student need that accommodation.

    Check out these wonderful online resource offerings from Scholastic!  

      

    Student magazines — Forster has students access Junior Scholastic Magazine’s online companion resources that accompany weekly magazines to give students further information about a topic they are studying. Magazines that are applicable to curriculum can be saved and reused in future years.

    Electronic forms — When using computers, develop forms that students can fill in with information as they read or study an online resource.

    Here are a few more of Forster’s favorite sites to try in your classroom.

    Padlet — This is an online program used for communication and collaboration using sticky notes. Multiple students can contribute to the board at the same time just by setting up a board and sharing the link. Sarah often uses this site for questions and reflections.

    Quizizz — Forster tells me this is a great review tool that allows teachers to create their own timed quizzes. Students complete the quiz live and have fun doing it!

    nearpod — This program is something like an interactive PowerPoint! Teachers can create lessons or use lessons that have been created by others. You can add student activities between slides and control the pace by class.

    Poll Everywhere — Forster’s class uses this to analyze photos. Students are can drop markers on photos. There are different question styles and is easy to use for brainstorming as a class.

    FlipQuiz — This site got top reviews from Sarah’s students. It allows you to make a Jeopardy style game quickly and easily. Sarah and her students have used it to review information from a unit.

    There are many more resources out there! Go out and explore!

     

    Whether you’re coming from a position of wanting better organizational management or a desire to be more earth friendly, you may be considering decreasing the amount of paper in your classroom next year. Summer is the perfect time to compose a plan for losing the mountains of paper that most teachers battle with every year.

    It might be easier than you think to move your classroom closer to a paperless environment. With a few pieces of equipment you may already have available, you’ll find yourself well on your way to a more organized, less cluttered, and ecofriendly environment for you and your students.

    A quick disclaimer: I’m not promoting getting rid of print books in most cases because of the benefits gained in the development of reading skills when children have real books in their hands. (That doesn’t hold for those 25-year-old encyclopedias you might have hiding on a shelf somewhere! There are many online resources that can replace them now!)

    Materials you’ll need to get started: smartphone with a scanning app, online file storage program, computer, printer, sheet protectors, and dry erase markers.

    Organize Teaching Files

    Clear that file cabinet — Scan or photograph worksheets that are important to you and recycle the paper copies you’ve been holding onto for so long! Turn the scans into PDFs that can be organized and stored electronically for easy, searchable access. Most likely, you will find many items that can be recycled without scanning.

    Find a good scanning app for your phone with the capacity to save files as PDFs. I use Genius Scan from the Apple Store but there are many good products out there.  

    Store files electronically for easy access — Do you feel anxious just thinking about locating a specific file on your computer? There are ways to fix that! Store your often-used PDF documents, photos, notes, plans, etc., in an online program that can be accessed anywhere and from any device.

    Set up folders based on seasonal, monthly, or topical/skill-based activities, depending on your needs. Files can be organized for easy access and planning.

    My favorite app for online storage is Evernote. It’s easy to use, can be accessed from any device, syncs, and saves files whenever a change is made so you can access from school or home and get the most up-to-date files.

    Reuse and repurpose — Use your file cabinet to store confidential files, that should never be stored on an online storage site, and class sets of often-used worksheets in page protectors that can be used, reused and repurposed.

    Copying a class set of worksheets and storing them together in sheet protectors, will save paper in the long run. Graphic organizers, maps, charts, and texts are good examples of materials that work well in this format. Dry erase markers can be used on the protectors and wiped clean after you have seen, and maybe photographed, the content of student work.

    First step — No time for a full file cabinet cleanout? Take a step in the right direction! Plan to file any new pieces of paper electronically and work on one file from the cabinet at a time.

    Plan for Less Paper

    Sarah Forster (aka Paper Nada) is a seventh grade social studies teacher at Jardine STEM and Career Exploration Magnet Middle School in Wichita, Kansas. She and her students have turned their classroom into a, virtual, paperless learning space.

    Most of their work is done on computer and she uses technology and visuals to support her teaching. She uses a storage program provided by her school district to share documents with students and they turn their work in using the same program. Next year, they will be moving to Google Drive. Students can access this network from home or school. When paper is necessary, its use is thought out beforehand and used wisely and sparingly.   

    Forster and her students have daily access to a wireless lab in their classroom. Not everyone is that fortunate but everyone can be conscious of paper use and adjust activities to conserve.

    Tips to Cut Down on Paper

    USE the paper! — When you ARE using worksheets, copy on both sides or have students save a one-sided worksheet for later use.

    Graphic organizers — Students can learn to draw their own graphic organizers on the back of a worksheet. This saves paper and ink, and teaches them a skill that might come in handy later!

    Class sets — Store class sets of paper resources, such as maps and graphic organizers, that can be used for multiple years. Place each copy in a sheet protector and store in a labeled folder in a file cabinet. Keep a set of dry erase markers for writing or underlining text on the sheet protectors. Students can erase markings when finished for reuse.

    Use online resources — There are many quality sites on the web that teachers can use to enhance their lessons. Whether students work alone, in partners, or as a teacher led activity on an interactive whiteboard; audiovisual activities are effective, engaging, and build background knowledge.

    Forster goes over, and sends home, a list of rules that she strictly enforces when it comes to care and use of the electronic devices in her classroom. Students who break those rules will do their work on paper for a week. The work is easily printed for the student. She rarely has a student need that accommodation.

    Check out these wonderful online resource offerings from Scholastic!  

      

    Student magazines — Forster has students access Junior Scholastic Magazine’s online companion resources that accompany weekly magazines to give students further information about a topic they are studying. Magazines that are applicable to curriculum can be saved and reused in future years.

    Electronic forms — When using computers, develop forms that students can fill in with information as they read or study an online resource.

    Here are a few more of Forster’s favorite sites to try in your classroom.

    Padlet — This is an online program used for communication and collaboration using sticky notes. Multiple students can contribute to the board at the same time just by setting up a board and sharing the link. Sarah often uses this site for questions and reflections.

    Quizizz — Forster tells me this is a great review tool that allows teachers to create their own timed quizzes. Students complete the quiz live and have fun doing it!

    nearpod — This program is something like an interactive PowerPoint! Teachers can create lessons or use lessons that have been created by others. You can add student activities between slides and control the pace by class.

    Poll Everywhere — Forster’s class uses this to analyze photos. Students are can drop markers on photos. There are different question styles and is easy to use for brainstorming as a class.

    FlipQuiz — This site got top reviews from Sarah’s students. It allows you to make a Jeopardy style game quickly and easily. Sarah and her students have used it to review information from a unit.

    There are many more resources out there! Go out and explore!

     

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