If I were ever to write a book about teaching in a 1:1 school, I would call it, “Using My School Bag As A Lunch Box”. Ok, so maybe the publisher could come up with something more clever, but what I’m trying to get at is that I have gone almost (a BIG ALMOST) 100% paperless in my classroom. My bag now carries my Macbook, my iPad, and my lunch. That’s it. No more weighty essays pushing me to the floor. The same amount of essays are being assigned, but the approach has changed. What’s even more interesting about this is how my (almost) paperless classroom has become a norm to my students. In just under a year, a major culture shift has changed throughout my building in which students are now expecting teachers to have an interactive website that they will be using throughout their class. Textbooks and notepads are becoming foreign to them.
Our building uses Blackboard as our learning management system, and the majority of our staff is using it on a daily basis. Whether it’s posting lesson objectives, collaborating on assignments, taking quizzes, or blogging, my Blackboard site has become my one stop shop for students to go to inside and outside of the classroom. When I brought this approach to my face- to-face class (I also teach hybrid online courses) last year, many students shrugged their shoulders and preferred I deliver all of the information to them as they have received in the past. “You create, we consume,” they stated. But this year had changed. Our entire staff is now using Blackboard, and students now have completely different expectations. They want the material in their hands, and they want to be able to work at their own pace. Having an in-class/out-of-class website gives me time to work with the struggling student who needs the extra help and also lets my students who don’t need to side by side guidance to run with what I’m giving them.
Going paperless means so much than not using paper; it lets students have access to everything in my class, and gives them time to explore.
I cannot believe the change in expectations of my students at the beginning of this school year compared to last year. I no longer have to fully explain how to use Blackboard, or a particular app (like Haiku Deck or Evernote)….they just seem to know. AND if they don’t know, another student knows. Look out folks, this generation of high school students is coming to your college and your workplace in the future, and they won’t take “put your cell phones” away for an answer. They solve problems and communicate with each other that way. I’m excited for their future, and I feel like my (almost) paperless classroom can get them ready to own their own learning. Sorry, Xerox machine. Your days are coming to an end.