Secrets of Success in a Paperless Classroom
Kelley Taylor, Christ the King School, Lexington,KY
I teach sixth grade language arts and religion at a Catholic school in Lexington, Kentucky. In the 2011-2012 school year, I piloted a 1:1 classroom using netbooks. This led to the implementation of a 1:1 iPad program in our entire middle school for 2012-2013. Within the first month of my pilot classroom, I found that my classes were completely paperless. This was not really my intent when I began the 1:1 endeavor, but it has turned into a wonderful bonus. Although it really is astonishing to have a “paperless” classroom (especially language arts), being in a 1:1 environment has provided me with so many more benefits.
Some of the benefits have included more efficiency in assessing and differentiating lessons; documentation of class discussions (especially literature circles) and assignment submission; more opportunities for student participation and collaboration; and exposure to 21st century skills for students.
What do students turn in?
Before I was paperless, students would practice grammar skills exercises every day in class and then for homework. At the end of the week, they would staple them all together and turn them in. I would spend all weekend grading them, sometimes realizing that students hadn’t grasped the learning objectives. This was frustrating because I felt I had wasted a week of instruction. Now, I have all of those exercises in “Quiz” formats in Edmodo, mostly with set answer keys. This way, when students do the formative exercise after my lesson I can immediately see, before they leave the room, how well they understand. This is great because students will not practice something incorrectly over and over. I do the same for their homework. Since the feedback for both me and my students is immediate, I can see how well they did before they even get to school the next day.
That brings me to my next time-saving, life-changing discovery. With the use of the “Assignment” feature, students can turn in any kind of document, I can annotate what they have written, and then they can make changes easily and quickly. I already had all of my “worksheets” and “notes” in Word documents, so I can just attach those to an assignment for students to fill out electronically. Again, I can see those documents immediately when students submit them, meaning that I can have them graded before students walk into the room. This is so much better than seeing all of those papers pile up in the “turn-in” tray and hauling them home!