More and more during this school year I have seen many wonderful teachers moving toward a paperless classroom. Please notice that I entered paperless, not paper-free!
Going paperless has so many advantages. If nothing else, think of the millions of pieces of paper that are not used. Other advantages include producing materials that can be shared widely and more easily, updates which can take place in real-time, and tapping into a medium which is a natural extension of students.
Below is a list of suggestions to get started toward being paperless.
- Communication with students and parents can take place in real-time even outside the classroom. Google Classroom and Google Keep offer many options for communicating beyond the delivery of materials and links for lessons. Make announcements, post and hold whole-class discussions, communicate with small groups as you are differentiating instruction, or provide feedback privately to individual students. Feedback could be a simple message entered online or could include oral feedback using an online tool like Vocaroo or the Google Extension, Simple Audio Recorder or it might even include a short video using the Google Extension, Screencastify. Twitter (with district certification) provides teachers with a quick and easy way to post announcements and updates. Moving beyond email, a teacher can make announcements for both parents and students communicating via text messages Remind (with a texting agreement).
- Collaboration is easy, effective, and readily accessible anywhere and anytime using G Suite tools. Students can create, share, and edit in real-time online. Everyone can literally be on the same page at the same time!
- Creation is limited only by time and imagination using digital tools. Students can create something simple like a presentation to showcase their knowledge or can design and create a tangible project using a 3D printer.
- Quick Formative Assessment provides instant data. Nearpod not only allows for engaging teacher-led lesson activities, but also provides a student-paced alternative. Within a Nearpod lesson, quick, informative, and effective assessment can be embedded. Socrative will also allow for a quick polling option as well as a pre-planned, mapped out, or even game-based online quiz. Google Forms provides unlimited options for quizzes including differentiation via branching, adding images, and uploading a file as a response.
- Deeper Summative Assessments can go far beyond a multiple guess test. If that format is most effective, such could be created using Socrative and Forms but digging deeper is often more informative and provides more comprehensive learning. Demonstrating their understanding or skill mastery can be captured in presentation or infographic creations using Google Slides, Drawings, Documents (with text, images, and drawings), or Piktochart. Students could also create videos or screencasts providing not only a demonstration of their understanding but also provide a model for future classes.
- Research and curation becomes immediate, up-to-date, and easily accessible using digital tools. Collaborate, curate, and share resources online using tools like Google Keep, Symbaloo, and Diigo. Notes and resources can be highlighted, annotated with digital sticky notes, and categorized using these tools with color and tagging options.
- Access and use quality content. The free resources for online content are almost limitless! Content for social studies classes might be accessed from any of the resources curated in the Symbaloo linked below, for example.
- Writing improves with practice. To be a better writer, read more and write more! Using Google Documents and Edublogs allows students to share their work and provides an authentic audience. Not only do students take their work more seriously when shared in these forums, but the platforms also provide a way for developing quality feedback and improved communication skills.
Integrating technology in new and innovative ways can be overwhelming. Don’t let it be! Choose just one way to help move your classroom toward being paperless. Then, continue to be a lifelong learner and step forward to try something else new and different. Baby steps can take us (and students) a long way on our journey!