I love the idea of going paperless. I’m all for saving trees. And what better time to think about the implications of working towards being paperless than during the week and month of Earth Day?
But, oh, boy, do we have a long way to go. In fact I cringe at how much paper we actually do use in offices and schools.
It’s not easy to go paperless. Change, in any form is difficult. In some ways, I even feel as if we’ve gone in a different direction. It’s so easy to just make a copy, that sometimes I feel like we actually make copies just to make copies of something: for the just in case, or the you may need this, or you should have your own copy. It’s hard to know when you really NEED a copy of something at your fingertips or if it’s just ok to have a centralized location of a set of documents (either in an office or on a server.)
There are other concerns with paper in education. Workbooks are one! There’s potential to have so many workbooks in your classroom! Here’s a weird predicament: I don’t want to use workbooks for everything. I’d rather have students work with the curriculum in other ways (arts integration, hands-on, project based), but I almost feel guilty when I don’t use every page of a workbook that’s been pre-ordered for me. And then there’s the quality of the workbook. Sometimes I feel like the practice papers I can get online or from a resource book are much better than the workbooks I have at my disposal. So – I make copies and feel a little guilty for “wasting” more paper.
I’m far from teaching paperless, but I try. Every so often, I do a “Paperless Day” with my students where we work as paperless as possible. My students love these days because they feel as though they are free from work. We do drills on whiteboards, work on computers, and read from ereaders. Some students even challenge themselves to have trashless lunches.
There are so many teachers out there that make paperless work in their classrooms. They are inspiring. And just like making those first steps towards implementing arts integration or the use of technology, making small changes can lead to a reformation in your classroom.
Here are some links that may inspire you (and continue to inspire me) to work paperless in the classroom:
10 Paperless Math Assessment Strategies from John Spencer
The “Teach Paperless” Blog – great ideas and reflections
“Going Paperless” Practical ways to implement a paperless class. – This Google Doc is FILLED with great ideas and alternative activities from teachers. Read through these and/or add your own!
The Paperless Classroom: part 1 and 2 from David McVicker
“Paperless Classroom” – A Prezi presentation by Steve Katz. “My struggles with a paperless classroom and my recommendations based on what I learned.”
Challenge yourself to try something paperless. I promise to as well.