Sunday, January 31, 2010

The road to a paperless classroom begins on Monday

...Like Oxygen
Originally uploaded by colemama
I'm lucky enough to have gone on a $20,000 shopping spree at Best Buy on Friday and was able to purchase many new tools for my classroom. As a recent winner of the Best in Class Fund, my students and I are now the proud owners of a class set of iPod touches, a class set of netbooks, a number of headset microphones, a few Kodak Zi6 cameras, a Nikon SLR camera and two new 21" iMacs.

What are we going to do with all of these new tools you ask? Well, you will just have to wait and see. I can't wait to see the excitement on my students faces on Monday morning when they find out I finally got to go shopping and was able to buy all of the things that we have been talking about buying for the last few months. I also can't wait to see how they will use these carefully chosen tools to enhance their learning experiences in my classroom.

Our goal in our choices, was to have the ability to effectively integrate technology into our classroom so that it becomes a normal part of our learning day. We will no longer have to think twice about using a tool that we want to use to explore, document or demonstrate our learning. All of these wonderful tools will be at our fingertips and part of our everyday school experience.

I find it fitting to see a number of wonderful educators posting their thoughts and experiences from this year's Educon this weekend. Dean Shareski posted a link to the photo included in this post from colemama that includes a quote from a leading administrator in the integration of technology, Chris Lehmann and the founder of Educon about the need for tech to become like oxygen: 
"We should use the technology to create whole new schools. Technology needs to be ubiquitous, necessary and invisible." - Chris Lehmann, Principal, Science Leadership Academy
As I strive to effectively integrate this new technology into my classroom, my hope is that you check back to read about our journey. I also hope that you will see a learning journey that is supported by these new tools and not just a log about how to use these tools in the classroom. Please wish us luck in our new adventure. I can't wait to share it with you.


  1. Can you help me? When I watch your video, I find it very inspiring. I am a language arts teacher in Columbus, Ohio, and I am working very hard to incorporate technology into my classroom. But I don't know how to go paperless. I just don't know how to replace written essays and grammar worksheets with paperless assignments that get at the same skills. Any suggestions?

  2. Very good luck to you. I will be back to check on your progress.

  3. Sorry to take so long to respond to your comments. I just got back from my trip to the Winter Olympics and was neglecting my blog!

    Thanks for your kind wishes VKT. I look forward to your feedback and comments.

    Stacy, the road to a paperless classroom is one that I advise you do in bits and pieces. It won't happen overnight and takes some time to establish in your classroom. Also keep in mind that I have very good access to computers at school or most students have computers at home so it is easy for me to ensure my students are able to complete their assignments during class time or at home.

    One of the main tools I use with my students that cuts down on paper in Language Arts is Google Docs. Student write their essays and texts online and then use a different colour to edit them and show changes in different stages. If they are doing major revisions they save a copy of their draft and then rename it as a new draft for comparison. They then share them with me so that I can note their progress and evolution of their writing. I teach at a middle school level and not a high school level so I'm not sure what the expectations are at your level and if this would be satisfactory in demonstrating editing skills. I also have students share their writing with each other and provide comments and feedback to each other when doing peer-to-peer editing as part of my writing workshop. I like the fact that there are no papers to lose and that students can work from any computer at anytime. I also don't have to lug around piles of marking as I can access their work at anytime from any computer.

    Another part of Google Docs that I've recently discovered and have grown to love is Google Forms. I can develop an activity that requires the student to respond in a variety of ways (long answer, short answer, multiple choice, true or false, etc) and then submit the form online. You can make all of the questions mandatory and ensure that students have to fill out their name to submit the form. When you have prepared a form, you can post a link to it on your class website or blog and students can access it from anywhere. All of the answers are then tabulated into a spreadsheet where I can see who has completed the assignment and when they did it. For your traditional grammar sheets, you may be able to make them into different google form documents and have the students complete them online for you. It would be an initial time investment on your part but once it is developped, you wouldn't have to spend the time doing it again.

    Blogging is also a ways my students work on opinion text and share their views with each other. It has replaced the traditional form of a journal in my class and allows students to do daily or weekly writing.

    Those are only a few ideas I have for you off the top of my head. If you have other questions or you have some ideas to discuss, I would love to hear from you!