Paper Free Classroom Ideas

So... we got the email this week.  The one I dread every year.  You know which one - the one reminding you about copying quotas, and how we all need to limit our copies as much as possible.  I always try to limit my copies by projecting as much as possible and having the students use whiteboards, but I'm trying out some new things this week to avoid making copies.  I thought I'd share...

If you really need to make copies, do you need a class set?  Check out these C-Line Reusable Dry Erase Pockets.  I've tried tons of alternatives, like a piece of cardstock in a sheet projector, a laminated sheet, and a sheet inside a zip-lock bag.  (Teachers liked to reduce, reuse, and recycle before it was cool, right?)  Ummm, those alternatives might work for a while, but then they look ragged and icky.  These pockets are rugged, sturdy enough to use in the classroom, and wipe clean easily with a felt eraser, a tissue, etc.  We've been using this set like crazy for a couple of months, and they still look fabulous (even with the "rugged" use my students have at this point of the year!)


C-Line also has a ton of templates for free, such as the clock above!  (I was trying to remind my green beans that they DO know how to tell time...  #facepalm)  Visit the templates page by clicking the clock below.  I only needed 5 copies to be able to review time all week with my entire class - just sayin'.

Project your tasks as much as possible.  Duh.  But really, do you need to make a class set of copies of the math problems, or can you project the problems on the wall (or, gasp, write them on the board?!?)  We have clipboards, and students move if they need to be closer to the task.  Works for us.

If you have the technology available, use it.  Today my kiddos made Educreations on the iPads (I borrowed them from another class that was on a field trip, so I was able to use 5 today!!) If you've never heard of this, it's a pretty fabulous teaching tool.  Here's the sample Educreation I made to show my class about solving a word problem:  Sample Educreations Task - Comparison Word Problem.

Limit the amount of meaningless test prep busy work.  Again, it's a no-brainer.  The more worksheets you assign, the more papers you need to grade, file, etc.  If it doesn't help you or your students, don't bother making the copies.  Use whiteboards and dry-erase markers, and listen to students explain their work - that will help you see what next instructional steps you should take.  A lot of my assessments are through anecdotal notes, and I've used every "system" to keep up with them.  Good old-fashioned kid-watching on a check-list or in a spiral notebook can really tell you what you want to know - Do they understand the concept? Can they explain it to others?  Can they apply the concept to other situations?  You know, teacher stuff.  :)  Here's one way I got the class up and moving - using Christina Bainbridge's Tick Tock... Classroom Telling Time Hunt.  Minimal amount of prep (and copies.)  Love it!

Use the resources from your school.  I know, I know.  Sometimes it's a pain when you get one. more. thing. from your school to use.  Occasionally Often At times, I get a wee bit frustrated by being given something else to do...  Earlier this year, I was given 6 copies of a test prep reading book, and told to use it without letting kids write in it or have their own copies.

(Admission time - they sat on the shelf in pristine condition for most of the year.)  One day I looked through them and realized that they have grade-level appropriate text (paired fiction and informational selections) with a quick activity at the end.  I set these in a basket with some great Fiction and Informational text questions, and my fan-ta-bu-lous assistant leads all of the students through a text daily during Daily 5.  (She pulls each group for 10-15 minutes, and it really is the best use of the hour that she is with us every day!)  When they finish, they pull a couple of questions and discuss.  Here's my questions...
Again, limited copies!  Print, laminate, and put in a basket or on a ring.  Done!
With budget cuts everywhere, I know we are not the only ones with copy warnings... How do you deal with limited copies?

Disclosure: I received a set of dry erase pockets to review. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own. Affiliate links used to support this website.
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