Why I Finally Decided to Become a Paperless Digital Classroom

Teaching with technology is the new era of the education field.  Read how and why I finally decided to become a paperless digital classroom, and the digital resources I created for other 1:1 teachers to use with Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Hopefully this will encourage other secondary science teachers who are thinking about transitioning to using more educational technology!

One of the newest movements in education is digitizing classrooms.  EdTech reported over a year ago that over 50% of schools would consider themselves 1:1 students to devices, and I am sure that number has only grown since.  

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't a big fan when this shift happened.  (I originally typed "trend" but have realized that this isn't just a trend in education - it isn't a fad that will come and go.  This is truly where education has shifted and is heading in the 21st century.)  I just couldn't see how this was feasible at first.  I never taught in a school where every kid had access to their own device.  I have never been in a school where the Wifi was completely reliable - enough that you could depend on it to support an entire school of people on devices.  All of the tech. issues that would inevitably arise seemed overwhelming to me.  Most of all, I couldn't wrap my mind around the classroom management issues that this would create.  How are you supposed to keep kids focused?  What are you supposed to do when a kid gets grounded and their parents take their device?  There seemed to be too many barriers in the way for this to actually work. 

So I didn't make any digital resources.  Not a single one.  I continued to only make (and sell) paper products to use in my classroom.  But the buzz around paperless classrooms didn't go away.  Much to my dismay, it only increased.  I felt the pressure from other teachers looking for support in my resources who couldn't afford the amount of copies my non-interactive notebook packet strategy required.  I also felt some push from my own administration, who continually brought up in staff meetings that this was the direction our school was heading in the next couple of years.  I couldn't ignore that paperless digital classrooms were no longer the future of education, but the present.

I'm not going to lie, this was hard for me to swallow at first.  I really believe there is so much good that comes in writing things by hand.  I also really believe our students spend WAY too much time in front of the screen as it is.  So I figured I would simply make digital resources to have as an option for use, but still keeping using my paper ones until I was ready.  Once I figured out how to digitize my existing packets and make them usable in a 1:1 classroom, while still keeping my teaching style and all of my favorite resources, I was actually EXCITED about making and eventually using these digital resources.  I won't have to give up anything but the copy machine, and I was hooked!  


Here are 7 reasons why I am excited about my new digital curriculum:
  1. You can go completely PAPERLESS if you want - no more dreaded mornings at the copy machine!
  2. You still get all of the organization of my packet strategy, just now in a digital format.
  3. Students will be able to access their packets ANYWHERE. No more, "I forgot my binder so I couldn't do (fill in the blank)!"
  4. You can still print everything like you used to. Students can print their filled in packets or blank ones!
  5. Because of #4, you can even have a mixed classroom with some students paperless and others not. You can even start with just doing a few units digitally and others on paper. Whatever works best for you and your students!
  6. Increased flexibility for students to easily learn and be connected outside of the walls of your classroom.
  7. An opportunity to help students grow in their digital literacy.

Some of you may be like me and be VERY apprehensive about using digital resources. I TOTALLY GET IT. I feel the exact same as you for so many reasons, as I listed above. This is why I decided to simply add these digital resources into my existing curriculum. I want teachers to have access to both. I want you to be able to use paper methods too.  Now you simply have OPTIONS.
When other teachers make requests to me, I truly do listen to the feedback.  Digitizing my curriculum was a suggestion I have received over and over again for the last two years, and now I am so excited to say that it is HERE!  All of my biology units in my full year biology curriculum have been digitized for use in Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive.  I did a video preview on my Instagram if you want to see more.  On my profile click my TpT story highlights and you can tap through to get to where I talk about digital resources (right after I explain about the NGSS updates I made.) I hope you find it helpful!
Physical science teachers don't worry - you are next!  I am currently tackling my PS curriculum in the same way that I did biology.  It will be done by August, if not sooner. 
Teachers, I'd love to hear your thoughts on going paperless.  I officially have the resources, but need the feedback from other more experienced teachers with the actual implementation and management of it all.  Are you in a 1:1 classroom?  How does it work for you?  What are the biggest challenges?  What are some helpful techniques you have learned?  Any and all advice is so appreciated!! 
Teaching with technology is the new era of the education field.  Read how and why I finally decided to become a paperless digital classroom, and the digital resources I created for other 1:1 teachers to use with Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive. Hopefully this will encourage other secondary science teachers who are thinking about transitioning to using more educational technology!

2 comments

  1. I teach 8th grade science in Texas. So I teach chemistry, space, earth, physical and life sciences. What are your suggestions for this grade level? Ian or packets? I have used IAN for years. We are 1:1 with technology, but I am not paperless yet.

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    1. Lisa - so sorry I am just now seeing this. No idea how I missed it! You teach all of that for 8th graders? WOW! That is a full load. I am still not in a 1:1 school so I have not been able to test this out for myself yet. I am going to try this year allowing students who do have devices use the paperless version if they desire, and the rest use the printable versions. It may be crazy, but I just don't have the tech. access to go all of the way. It's hard for me to imagine the 8th graders I have had the past few years be ready for the responsibility of working on a device, and the math component of physical science makes it challenging for me to picture them taking notes or working through practice problems easily. If I was using it 1:1 with my 8th graders, I would probably have them use the digital packet as a reference but keep a binder for working out problems by hand. I think for biology/life sciences it would be easier content-wise to be fully digital since it is a less quantitative science. I hope those rambling thoughts make sense!

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