Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Paperless Classroom

The new copiers finally arrived at school today.  The teachers at my school have been experiencing a love-hate relationship with the copiers all year.  While the year started off well, the copiers began to jam, streak, and in some cases flat-out refused to turn on by the middle of September.  As my colleagues' relationships with the copy machines began to fizzle, it was interesting to watch the coping strategies that they employed.  Many complained to the principal, while others befriended the repair man in hopes that their  good relationship would turn into positive copier karma.  I felt the most for my colleagues that spent hundreds of dollars purchasing copies at office supply stores.

To be honest, while I kept abreast of the latest copier news (it was a big topic in the teachers' lounge), for the most part it did not impact my instruction or cost me any money.  Three years ago my district implemented a 1:1 technology initiative and purchased iPads for all students and staff.  Rather than spend my time fixing the copier, I researched ways to turn my classroom into a paperless haven.  I found my solution in Edmodo, a free online management system.  Edmodo has a student-friendly interface, similar to Facebook.  Once signed up, students can access class assignments, updates, and handouts through the group page.  They can also view and participate in online class discussions and polls.  Parents can sign up for access to the group page if they wish to keep track of announcements and assignments.  

Used as a last resort, Edmodo has changed my classroom in unexpected ways.  Since the majority of the classwork and homework assignments are posted on Edmodo, students no longer ask me to provide make-up work.  I even currently have a student participating in class assignments and discussions with the assistance of a home and hospital teacher.  The classic "I don't have a pencil" excuse has been eliminated as assignments are accessed and submitted with the swipe of a finger.  The lack of paper also makes it easier to grade assignments as I do not have to carry papers back and forth to and from school.  Students also use the site to communicate with me before and after school hours to ask homework questions, seek clarification, and wish me a Happy Birthday.  

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