Saturday, February 13, 2016

Painless Ways to Go Paper-Free in Your Classroom


This title should read "Painless Ways to go *Almost*Paper-free in Your Classroom" since some of these ideas do require a little paper. However, if you are completely overwhelmed by the thought of going 1:1 and the pressure of going paper-free that goes along with it, then hopefully this post will give you some ideas to ease that transition fear and workload.

1. Zip-grade with a twist. One reason that there is such a huge push for going digital is that state testing is going that way. Reading on paper and reading on the screen is NOT the same. If students aren't practicing reading and testing on a screen until testing day, then those students will be a big disadvantage. However, it takes SO. MUCH. TIME. to get your tests in a digital format. I'm currently working on putting mine on Canvas, but until then, Zipgrade day, then those students will be a big disadvantage. However, it takes SO. MUCH. TIME. to get your tests into a digital format. I'm currently working on putting mine on Canvas, but until then, Zipgrade is my solution. Zipgrade is an app that grades via printed "scantrons" by taking and storing a picture. You can read more about it here: link. I can upload a paper test for students on my website or in their classroom OneNote, and they can read it from their screen. But instead of selecting answers online, they fill out a Zipgrade form.  If they get the test on a Word Document, they can use the strike out function and highlighting function while taking the test.

2. Page Protectors. When you do need to use a paper copy of something such as an article that's blocked at school or a story in a textbook, page protectors are perfect! Instead of making all my classes a copy of something, I will have them put a shared copy in a page protector before highlighting or marking on it. I've found that yellow highlights and black dry erase markers work best. I keep these supplies in a little folder for each row. As you can see from the bottom right photo, if you cut a page protector in half, then it will fit perfectly in the spine of the textbook so that it lays flat on each page. My husband is a history teacher, and he uses this method all the time for maps. He says that they love the page protectors so much more than regular paper copies!

Click to enlarge!

3. Get your shop on. Any time there's a huge transition in education, teachers are unfairly expected to start all over by making every new lesson plan from scratch. There's a better way. Follow the beacon of light to Teacher Pay Teachers and use their new search function to find digital lessons for your classroom. Think about it. What's your time worth? You will pay $3-$5 for something that will take your HOURS, DAYS or WEEKS to do yourself. When contemplating turning your WHOLE set of lesson plans into digital activities, that amount of time per lesson is completely impossible. To search for digital resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, go to the sidebar and click to see all types of resources under "Top Resource Types." From there, you can search for Google Apps or Microsoft OneDrive. The resources you will find in this search are sharing ready. All you have to do is purchase, download, and share with your students. It's that easy! 

Here is my first e-activity if you want to check it out. To Build a Fire e-Activity 


4. Microsoft OneNote. If you are in a Microsoft school, then you should have access to Microsoft's new Classroom OneNote. OneNote is set up exactly like a notebook and you as a teacher will have the main access to it, but when you add students, they will get their OWN notebook plus have limited access to yours (they can copy and paste, but they can't edit). If you open one of these Notebooks, then all of you have do is "print" your old paper resources to your OneNote. Then, students can type directly over the sheet. It's not active like the resources you will find in your TpT search, but it does make for an EASY transition to becoming paper-free. Students can access their Notebooks on their phones or computers, so that's nice too. Below is an example of a worksheet my students used to do on paper. All I had to do was go to the "File>Print" on that document and "print" it to my notebook. Students were then able to paste it into their notebooks and type or copy and paste directly onto the form. You can also read these two posts if you are interested in learning more about Classroom OneNote: How to Creep on Your Students They Have a Sub Using Classroom OneNote  and How to Send Valentines to Your Students Using Classroom OneNote 

5. Embrace cellphones. These little min-computers students are attached to can aid tremendously when trying to become paper-free. I wrote a detailed post full of ideas about using cellphones in the classroom, and you can read that here: Don't Hate, Integrate 

Want to find more digital ideas? Be sure to following my Pinterest! 

Digital Learning Day 2016--Why Should You Try Something New? Because Your Students Will Thank You.

My students thank me all the time for the new “stuff” we are doing this year. Go ahead--take the plunge! Believe me, if you have access to any sort of technology (even one device), then do it. That one tablet or laptop can open up a window to a universe of instructional opportunities. Your students will want to get to that tech center. 

Digital Learning Day, February 17, 2016, is ultimately about bringing equal opportunity to our classrooms, regardless of location or socioeconomic status. It is about the importance of having access to Wi-Fi and up-to-date technology in our schools. Many schools have technology that is not working or that is out-of-date. State and local governments are now focusing on getting it all fixed so that our school children can succeed in the 21st century.


Here's the challenge--On February 17, 2016, try a new lesson that focuses on discovery, analysis, and exploration. Give your students the gift of a new opportunity by using Google Classroom, MS OneDrive, or an App. And don’t forget to share what you are doing in your classroom on social media to celebrate Digital Learning Day with #futureready. To help you get started, we’ve teamed up to share an amazing selection of blog posts and classroom activities that are designed to propel you and your students into your digital learning adventure.