A Pledge Not to Print

For the rest of my career as an educator (and I’m a lifer in this industry) I pledge never to print again.

I started “going digital” early last year when I worked at Pinkerton Academy. As soon as I discovered “the cloud” I realized it was a place I needed to be (I’ve often been accused of being a dreamer). More importantly, I realized my students needed to be there too. Here’s why…

Prior to discovering the power of Google Drive, Edmodo, and blogging, I would assign work that my students would print out and submit. I would give my students feedback, often in the form of a numeric grade, and pass it back to them. My students would then proceed to place their graded work into the recycle bin. And that was that. I became increasingly irritated that my students would pass up my offer to “resubmit for a higher grade,” a comment I would frequently write next to their grade when I wanted my students to aim higher. They just simply didn’t care. They were fine with a C or in some cases a D. Again, my irritation surmounted as I witnessed piles of perfectly good trees enter the recycle bin at the front of my classroom. But really, I was distraught about my students’ lack of motivation to improve their work. I decided I had to take action. I adopted Edmodo and Google Drive and crazy things started to happen.

Once I began assigning work via Google Drive and providing feedback such as “resubmit for a higher grade” a small miracle began to occur in my classroom one student at a time. Students actually began resubmitting their work in an effort to earn a higher grade. It was like a dream come true. The comments I sprinkled throughout my students’ work actually resonated with them and many actually started taking advantage of my offer to improve their grades. Now, if you are saying to yourself, “I wouldn’t do that, the grade is the grade” then you may as well stop reading now. But if you are like me and you really care about what your students learn, even if it takes a little longer than you planned, then keep reading.

In addition to the desire of my students to actually want to achieve at higher levels, the second reason I love “teaching in the cloud” is because I am a much more organized and efficient teacher. I don’t have to invest time, effort, and my own money in tools to help me collect mounds of paper that ultimately end up in a recycle bin or trays and binders to keep stacks of paper “organized.” I remember for years I would have trays on my desk that were labeled for each one of my classes. No matter how many times I told my students which color tray belonged to their class, or how big my tray labels were, students would put their work in the wrong tray!! I can’t tell you how much time I spent sifting through papers to find the one I was looking for. Now, thanks to Google Drive and my students’ blogs, I know exactly where to find my students’ assignments and I am able to assess student work at a much faster pace prior to teaching in the cloud. Did I mention that my students want to make their work better? Again, for me, that is reason enough to be in the clouds and never come down!

So, if you haven’t yet taken the plunge into a digital classroom and are wondering how it will impact your teaching and your students’ learning, I would tell you this: try it and see what happens. I predict you will never lose an assignment, your students will communicate with you more and they will inquire about what they can do to improve their grades. As an added bonus you will contribute to the conservation of forests everywhere.

So are you with me? Are you ready to take the pledge not to print?

Image Credit: M. Scheffer

Image Credit:
M. Scheffer

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