A while back I posted a goal from my 30 Goals Challenge about initiating Paperless Fridays. My Paperless Fridays goal have become a beast of its own, I haven’t handed out a piece of paper or stood in a copy machine line since that day! I have taken to using Google Docs with my students a lot more regularly and I have started using my Camtasia software more frequently, as well. As I posted earlier, the end of last week I was at the Math and Science Teacher Conference at Casper College in Casper, Wyoming. While away from my classes I bypassed the substitute by communicating directly with my students through daily assignment emails, Camtasia screen capture videos detailing assignments, Skype running in my classroom, a private chat room and email throughout the day. This allowed for a much less disrupted classroom when I returned than is common following a substitute.
I have been using Google Forms to collect student responses and using Camtasia to build short tutorials for both technological challenges students may face and instructions for completing assignments. We work through all of these instructions in class, but these tutorials stand in as my backup when students are absent or at school sponsored activities or even if they just forget an aspect of the assignment. These tutorials have given me a tool to say, “Go check the video, ask a neighbor and if you still have questions then ask.” This has been especially helpful for those students who chronically tune out instructions.
I have had a number of students begin to take greater advantage of these technologies outside of class as well. I have always offered and given my school email to students and asked them to contact me whenever they have questions, yet they rarely have. This last week or so, however, I have had students contact me via email and Google Docs’ chat function while they are working on assignments at school, home and wherever else. I feel this has helped students to be more productive outside of class. Students aren’t waiting until the next day to ask their questions and using that as a reason to fall behind. They are learning to leverage these technologies to learn when they need to.
So far teaching paperless has been great!