Teaching Paperless

Blogging rule #1: Never apologize for your lack of blog updates. So I’m not apologizing for not updating about my paperless crusade.

Here’s where I’m at with Teaching Paperless:

1) It’s almost impossible to teach paperless 100% of the time given the limited resources I have in my school (Our administrative team and PTA are working very hard on that by the way).  I spent 9 days in the computer lab off and on doing various activities that were awesome and engaging, but justice set in, and I had to relinquish my hold on the computer lab for other teachers.

2) Some paper things I will just not be able to get around.  Since I have started this venture, I have had to make copies for the following things:

~Student Led Conferences – We create a script for our students to follow during a conference they conduct with their parents to instill leadership and personal responsibility in our students.

~Interims and Interim Cover Letters – Our school requires that I send home paper interims and cover letters every 3-ish weeks.

~A Unique Project Opportunity with my Administrator – Unfortunately, this was a paper-driven project, but man was it good.  Read about it here. My asst. principal and I have already devised a plan to make it paperless the next time around when we begin studying Asia.

3) I gave a short 10 question test the other day, and almost made a copy for every student.  I had to make a few copies given special accommodations, but instead of making a copy for every 7th grader, I displayed it on the projector and had them use their own paper.  Yes, I realize they still used paper, but it wan’t coming from me.

And then it happened.  I was talking about my personal paperless crusade in class with my 8th period just after they finished taking the test the other week.  My students have somewhat taken this one as their personal mission to make sure I don’t use paper.  They sorta act as my gut-check.  I was complaining about how hard it was to continuously  come up with ways to not use paper.  I was close to admitting to them that I might give up after this semester.  Then one student raised their hand and asked, “What about Google?”  I thought she was making fun of me since they are always hearing me say, “Don’t know? Google.”  I assumed she was recommending that I google ways to teach paperless.  But once she explained it, she gave me a great idea!

My student was actually suggesting that we take our tests using google docs similar to how we start each unit.  Every unit, we start by taking a google docs pre-test just to see how much everyone knows.  The results help to guide my instruction and let me know if I need to start with the basics or I can skip to heavy stuff.  However, those pre-tests are always multiple choice, and I refuse to give multiple choice summative assessments.

But that’s the beauty of using google docs, as I soon realized after class was over.  The google forms allow you to create open-ended questions, which still generates the same spreadsheet on the back end albeit a little more cluttered, but it’s there and grade-able.  I am definitely going to try this out the next time I am assessing my students.  Thank you student who I thought was making fun of me!  You inspired me to teach paperless just a little while longer.

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