Friday, June 11, 2010

Going Paperless - It's Not Just About the Environment

In celebration of Earth Day in April, an organized effort to reduce the use of paper, and in fact, go paperless, was spearheaded by Shelley Blake-Plock. About 1,500 teachers nationwide and beyond made the pledge to go paperless that day. A collaborative effort produced a Google Doc with numerous ways to give up paper in the classroom. The beauty of this document is the fact it was created by teachers, for teachers. No administrators were involved. No AT specialists were necessary.

What does this mean for us?
We know that too often, paper creates the disability for many students. In a non-paper environment, their disability disappears.

An invaluable document detailing typical activities using paper and paperless alternatives exists for all to use as a resource. There are great ideas and abundant resources here.

It's good teaching and it's Universal Design - embedding UDL principles proactively into instruction.

While I applaud the effort that started the paperless trend, I encourage you to join the paperless bandwagon for your students, not just for the environment.


Jamie said...

This is an extremely exciting idea! Thanks for sharing all of the ways to go paperless. I am a math teacher and would be interested in ways to help students complete math notes without wasting paper. I like the ideas of using whiteboards in class but I worry that students will not have a way to take any notes home with them. I am sure at the rate technology is growing students will soon have access to digital notepads. I actually did have a student who had a pen that recorded everything he wrote and he plugged it into his computer and it generated a document as well as an audio file. However, it also required a piece of paper to do the initial writing, so it did not save any paper.

Karen Janowski said...

Thank you for your comments. Math is one subject that does seem to require paper for students to demonstrate what they know. One option for reducing the amount of paper for math note-taking is to have a student be the class note-taker and use the Livescribe SmartPen to record the instruction for the day. (This is the pen you mentioned in your comment). Their notes will then be uploaded to a computer with a link from the class website. Students can take turns being the class note taker and this way, no one misses a word.
What do you think?

Jamie said...

I think this would be an awesome idea and would work for some students. My only concern is that I believe a lot of the math is learned by doing and a lot of students write their own little notes off to the side of the notes we are doing as a class, this would eliminate the possibility for them to do this (unless they had their own smartpen). I would also wonder what the rest of the students are doing while the on is taking the notes, maybe taking their own notes on erasable white boards?