Wednesday, April 19, 2017

TECH BASICS: 5 CREATIVE IDEAS TO GO PAPERLESS IN THE CLASSROOM

I know that you’re always looking for ways to save time and streamline the time it take to prep materials for your class. I’m sure you loathe spending at least one of your plan times during the week making copies.
Fun fact: At my old school, we had an allotment of copies we could make. If we went over our limit, that amount got taken out of our paycheck!
Needless to say, I’ve developed some creative ways to save paper in the classroom which in turn, can help you become paperless.

#1  SHEET PROTECTORS
Are you one of those teachers who loves cutting lamination? Do you find it soothing? #heynoshame
I wish I had that love. Buuuuuut I don’t. Therefore, sheet protectors are one of my best friends. I’m so used to not laminating things which is nice. Once less thing to worry about.

For example, all the curriculum math games I need are printed on regular colored paper. When it’s time to use the game, I quickly place them in the protectors and they are ready to go.
If you don’t have little whiteboards, just place a blank sheet of paper inside a sheet protector and students can easily keep this in your desk. It’s probably a lot cheaper this way too!
{There is a good set on Amazon for only $7 for 100 of them if you want to click here and grab them. Kick a few cents my way.}
Sheet protectors often erase better than lamination as well. The black markers actually erase the best in my opinion. I don’t know why, but now you have a reason to keep all the pretty markers to yourself the next time one of your student’s asks.



#1  ERASABLE SURFACES
Along with that, take a look around your classroom {or visualize it if you’re sitting on the couch like me}. What type of erasable surfaces do you see?
Well, desks for sure. I went to a conference last summer and they whipped out a pack of regular Crayola washable markers and whiteboard spray and we literally wrote on the tables.
Now my semi-OCDness didn’t like that {and I haven’t had my students personally do it}, but it does actually work really well.
OK, keep looking around your classroom. Do you have any windows that could use some lovely student writing? Dry erase markers work well on those.

Does your big whiteboard really have to be all for you? How could you make it more student friendly?
There are more places ready to write if you take a moment and think outside the box.

#3  PLICKERS
Ok, you will have to print something for this tip, but only one time!
Plickers is such a cute little name. It’s literally paper clickers. Plickers is a free tool for teachers to use.
Beforehand, you will need to create your own teacher account and assign each student a number. I always use the same number for the kids for everything, including technology. I’m sure you do as well.

To use Plickers you will need:
-A projector to display questions
-A computer to link questions
-A smartphone with the Plickers app downloaded and connected
-The paper Plickers


Within the account, you will have access to print the Plickers. They kind of look like weird QR codes. You will notice around the edge there are tiny letters and numbers. Each student has to get their unique Plicker card {I’ll explain why in a second}.
The types of questions you can ask in the program are multiple choice and true false. This isn’t something you would want to use if you want more detailed, thought out responses.
When students answer, they have to hold their paper Plicker straight up and down with their answer choice on the very top. {For little kids, you can write the letters nice and big on the back to ensure they are holding their Plicker in the right direction.}



To gather their responses, you have to use the app to scan over their cards. It looks like you are taking a picture but like a QR code, it will read each of their unique codes with their answer choice.
Since each shape is different and assigned to the student’s number, you will know that you have grabbed their answer because it will pop up on your computer screen.
This tool is great for quick check-ins which can help eliminate small papers you collect from kids and streamline it all in one place.




#4  SHARING IS CARING
Remember my copying dilemma from earlier? Like I said, I had to get creative with how information was shared and documented with students.
Think of ways how you and your grade level team can get smart about the resources you use. Plan together and see how you can share the same class set of articles multiple days. Maybe on Monday, your class reads the article about jelly beans and your teammate has their class read about donuts. The next day, switch.



Even it when it comes to using a graphic organizer or math worksheet, use the page protector sheet from earlier and share worksheets that way.
If you really want to plan ahead, have a bin of go-to articles you seem to use every year. That way you aren’t making copies every year and saving the earth at least a little bit.




#5  DIGITAL PAPER
When possible, you can many different technology platforms to replace the need for paper. Again, all of these resources are free.
You don’t necessarily have to have a 1:1 environment to use them either. Even if you share resources with students a couple times a week digitally, you are still saving loads of paper.


Here are some of my go-to digital, paper-saving resources. Click the links below to access some of my favorite free resources. Most of them you will have to create accounts for, but that shouldn’t take too long.



{1} GetEpic.com- This is an amazing free resource for eBooks. You can search through their vast collection of books and assign them to your whole class or specific students. This is great when working on paired selections {fiction and nonfiction}. You can also create quizzes for books with your own questions.

{2} QR Codes- On your computer, you can take any link to any site, copy and paste that link in an online QR {quick response} code generator, then it will create the unique code. I like using this for sharing reading articles that I saved to my Google Drive. There are a lot of generators out there, but I am linking my favorite one. On your mobile device, download a QR code reader.

{3} Digital.Readworks.org -Differentiated reading articles you can assign to students with corresponding questions. Even a few pages a week that you’re not printing makes a huge difference. I also use this when I am preparing my kids for state testing which you can read about it here.

{4}Google Classroom- I am obsessed about this tool and you should get on board if you are a G.A.F.E. school. The easiest way to get started is to just share links to resources you want students to access. Once you get more accustomed to it, you can create different digital “classrooms” for different topics you are learning about.

{5} SeeSaw- This is perfect for documenting those small moments in class. In my opinion, it has more capabilities on the Ipad than a laptop. Even if you have just one Ipad, this tool is amazing. Students don’t need to have a Google account to be able to use SeeSaw. They can take pictures, videos, audio, drawings and more with this super-user friendly platform.

{6}Google Link Shortener: Don’t have devices to scan QR codes and don’t feel like linking them to Google Classroom? Like you would with a QR code, you can take any link to any site, copy and paste that link in the link shortener generator, then it will create a small and unique link that is easier to type in your web browser. One tip: when your students type it in, it needs to have no spaces and capitals typed as capitals.






So, whether you are a 1:1 school or not, easy tweaks to your lesson prep can help you save time as well as paper.


The earth will thank you for it.


I would love to hear your thoughts on how you are going paperless in your classroom in the comments below, on Instagram {@marvelousmsm} or in our Exclusive Facebook Group.  



Stay MARVELOUS!


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