A colleague of mine walked in the room just as I was finishing some photocopying this morning. She was amazed! Her comment to me was, “I thought that you a proponent of the paperless classroom. Why are you using paper?” My response was the same as it always is when someone asks me about my use of paper in the classroom: “Paper is not a bad thing!”
Yes, I love using technology in the classroom with my students. I think that there are many powerful tools out there that can have students apply their learning and communicate their thinking in creative ways. Technology on its own though does not make me a better teacher. Any tool is only as good as what you do with it!
My discussion with this teacher emphasized that in my mind, the ideal classroom is full of paper as well as tablets and computers. I want students to be able to decide what tool to use based on what activity they’re completing. I want them to have access to rich activities that promote critical thinking and collaboration. I want them to read, read, read, and write, write, write, and do so in many ways using many mediums. Paper is not a bad thing, and I think students need to understand this as well.
This may be a surprise to some people, but I do photocopy at school. I probably always will. I could avoid photocopying and project a problem or activity onto the board for students to copy, but some students also need a hardcopy. I photocopy to give students what they need. Almost every assignment that I hand out in class, I distribute as a paper copy for those that want it and as an electronic copy for others. I let students choose what works best for them.
In my opinion, paper is not the enemy. We just need to think about how we use the paper as a tool for learning.
How do you use paper as a tool in your classroom? How do you respond when people ask you about a “paperless classroom?”
Aviva Dunsiger taught Junior Kindergarten to Grade 2 for 11 years before moving to Grade 6 this year. She’s passionate about using technology in the classroom to support student learning, and she’s presented on this topic numerous times both online and offline.
She enjoys maintaining her blog, Living Avivaloca: My Many Musings on Life and Learning. Aviva’s reflective writing about her professional practice inspires communication between educators, administrators and parents.
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