The British comic writer Terry Pratchett once wrote that you could tell that his office was a paperless office because you could see paper everywhere. Classrooms, like offices, will never be 100% free of papers, but integrating technology in the classroom is making the idea of a “paperless” classroom more feasible. How much easier would your job as a teacher be if you didn’t have a multitude of papers, books, black line masters, flash cards, attendance rolls, notes-to-send-home-to-parents, handouts and quiz sheets to cope with? Technology in the classroom is becoming more and more extensive. It would be a rare classroom today that doesn’t have at least one PC or laptop set up with a good internet connection, possibly even wireless, and nearly every classroom has its own VCR or DVD player, or at least, there’s a player that’s shared between two or three classrooms, depending on who’s using it today. Some classrooms have multiple computers, and some even have data projectors. Certainly, most schools would have a computer lab where each pupil can work individually on a computer.
Education at all levels today is becoming more and more computerised, so it is vital that your students don’t get left behind and they know how to use digital tools. They’ll be using them throughout their education, throughout their careers and throughout their lives, so the elementary classroom becomes a great place for them to get familiar with and start training in technology.
What are some easy ways that you can integrate technology and cut down on the amount of paper that you have floating around your classroom?
Use a spreadsheet for attendance. Once you’ve called the roll, you can email the result of who is and isn’t here to the secretary, or let him/her access it via the school’s intranet.
Use webquests instead of textbooks for some subjects. If you haven’t used them before, a webquest is an online teaching tool that sets your students various tasks that will require online research to be done. The best ones include helpful links to sites that can help in research. You can create your own customised webquests for your class.
Use computer games instead of flash cards for drilling your students in time tables and spelling words. You can use online computer games or buy software for doing this. One of the better ones for multiplication is Times Attack from multiplication.com, which has the look and feel of a classic dungeon-style first-person-shooter game but provides an intensive drill in times tables.
Use videos and DVDs instead of textbooks to explain a concept. Videos and DVDs can also take the place of information handouts. Better still, online video clips can be used, and your students have the chance to re-view these as part of their revision.
Have your students submit papers and essays online. This prevents the “Didn’t you get it? I’m sure I turned it in” or “My printer jammed” excuses and prepares them for college which uses online school work submissions extensively. If you’re worried about plagiarism, which is one of the pitfalls of modern technology in the classroom, then sign up for Copyscape, a cheap and fast online service, which will let you see if anybody has created an essay by by someone else.
Don’t let the words “integrating technology” scare you. It’s not as hard as you might think, and you don’t have to get a paperless classroom overnight. And if you have used a video in teaching before, then, you have some of the basic skills already.