8 Tech Solutions to Help Reduce Paper Consumption in Schools

This morning I was in a meeting and we were discussing the next 2 year Destiny Plan at JIS.  As we ‘unpacked’ the last destiny plan, one item really stuck out; Environmental Stewardship.  We are making progress in this area at JIS but there is still so much more we can do.  Jakarta is a huge, polluted city that needs all the help it can get in this area.

Our environmental club, ‘The Green Dragons,’ have made huge strides in reducing our lunchtime garbage by encouraging students to choose reusable plates instead of the plastic-coated cardboard containers that the cafeteria offers.

This is wonderful but we just can’t stop here.  I recently received the printing data for the Middle School and High School and in my opinion we print way too much.  If stacked, our printing for a year would be as high as a 30 story building!   We are a massive institution but that isn’t an excuse.  Students, teachers, admin and staff need to be more mindful about printing.  With Google Apps and other digital tools there is really no reason to print other than convenience or to showcase work. Most printed assignments end up in the trash at the end of the day anyway.

This photo is from 2011.  I don’t want to know what it looks like now.  Here you see an Indonesian man collecting plastic among the garbage floating on a polluted river in Jakarta.  Picture: EPA


We need to start tackling the environmental problems in Jakarta and in the world unless we want them to get even worse.  It’s a message that’s been said endless times; “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”…. but we need to keep repeating it and making people aware that their actions are effecting the future.

So here are 8 tech solutions for teachers to reduce paper consumption in school.

  1. Start running your class on Google Classroom and stop making students print out assignments.
  2. Check out the Suggesting Mode on Google Docs for correcting your students work.  You can also use the comments feature to comment on Google Docs.
  3. Use Padlet.com or Linoit to have students brainstorm using digital sticky notes instead of paper sticky notes.
  4. When assessing students, give them digital choices in how they will show their learning.  Not all assessments have to be printed out tests or printed out essays.
  5. When you do give a test, use Google forms to collect student answers.  You can even use Flubaroo to automatically grade it.
  6. Have students showcase and reflect on their work in a blog instead of posting papers around the room.  More people will end up reading what the students wrote online than flipping through papers stapled to your wall.
  7. Set up bins in your classroom for Scrap Paper and Paper to be Recycled.
  8. Instead of worksheets, use Socrative.com (a student response system) to have students answer questions.  You can tell in a couple seconds if your students are getting a concept instead of waiting until after class and grading a worksheet.

Progenitor X in the Classroom

The first game that I decided to try out was Progenitor X, the Zombies attracted me.Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 8.57.25 PM

I was intrigued as I started the game and maybe also a bit confused.  The graphics were great but I didn’t get to experience any of the zombie killing I expected.  When it came to the cell replication, my face clearly showed that I was confused about what I was doing.  If I played a little longer I think it would have become more clear.  It felt like I had learned about this cell reproduction process long ago in science class, but the specifics weren’t there anymore.  I’m sure this would help students with the scientific processes it was trying to emulate, especially if they had some background information.  Looking at my face in the video was painful.  What a grimace!  It’s worse then my mirror face, I think they call it duck face now a days…  My husband always teases me about that.  He would tease me more if he saw these clips.

The second game I tried was CommonSense Media’s Digital Compass.  As I was preparing for our school’s Digital Literacy week I came across this game and decided to see if it would be good to play in advisory classes.  I felt much better playing this game and I think my face shows that.  I could follow the storyline and was not confused.  I also found something that I could use immediately with my advisory students.  I shared this resource out to the Middle School and I think several teachers went through the game with their advisory students to introduce the Digital Citizenship unit.

Introducing the Digital Compass game to my advisory kids revealed one of the hidden treasures of game based learning; increased motivation.  Digital Citizenship might have not been such a hot topic in today’s class if I didn’t present it through this game.  The students were so jazzed about it that they even asked for the URL so they could play at home.  Games can turn seemingly dry material into the most interesting subject ever.  Kids sometimes don’t even realize they are learning.  This happened last week when I had a group demo Dragon Box + for their math class.  The kids have come back to ask me several times when the follow up lesson will be so they can show their classmates how to play.

Another hidden gem was illuminated in this movie…

-alternative, embedded assessment.  I really believe this is the best way to assess the students.  Observations, rubrics and questioning during game-based activities can give you a great feel of where of how well the students are really understanding the learning objectives.  I loved the Galactic Continents game.  I think I’m going to “mod” it for a French teacher that wants kids to create their own French speaking country after researching the existing ones.  Instead of land mass and ocean cards, I could make restaurant and monument cards…

In the feedback for this Gamification course, Robert asked me if I planned to challenge the rules in the library about no gaming.  This question really connected me with the CQ Researcher article that was about librarians having video game sessions to attract students that would normally not frequent the library.

In the article, one student said,

“If it wasn’t for the gaming stuff dragging me in that first time, I would have gone maybe once in the past two years,” says Ian Melcher, 17, a gamer in Ann Arbor, Mich.,

I felt compelled to share this article with our librarian, my close work buddy.  Having video games for check out!  What a great idea!

As I approach the end of class I am thinking about doing my final project on the follow up lesson for Dragon Box + with the 6th grade Math students.  Unfortunately, I won’t get to implement the lesson until after the class ends.  But, I’ll be nice to have something planned out that I can jump right into when we come back from break.

My idea is to have the students try out the game for a certain amount over two weeks.  After they are familiar with the game and the rules, I plan to give them screenshots of the game with blanks where the picture cards (numbers) are supposed to go.  Using what they know of the game rules, I want to see if they can do these algebraic questions.  I’m interested to see if playing the game leads to faster understanding of algebra in the 6th grade.


Final Project Brainstorm

I wanted to play around with creating an RSA style video so I made a very short one about my final project brainstorming.  This type of video creation is really popular with students right now.  Though my video is not all that, it was super easy to make in iMovie.

Here is an very interesting RSAnimate video I found about a study done on what motivates us.  It’s way better than my quick project.

So now to get motivated on creating this Digital Citizenship unit.  Actually it’ll be more like a Digital Citizenship curriculum for our school based on the tech standards that we came up with this year.  I plan to put it into Atlas Rubicon.  I also want to incorporate lessons and plans that I will use in next year’s Tech Boot Camp.  Tech boot camp is a two day technology orientation that all middle schoolers go through at the beginning of the year.  Last year was my first year doing this and it went really well.  It’s a great way for school’s that are 1-1 to get kids prepared to use their device efficiently and responsibly.