The Paperless Research Process

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to discuss how Lynnfield High School English teachers Stephanie Marcoux and Joseph Puleo are leveraging Google Apps for Education to create a paperless research process for their students in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. Our conversation was a virtual Massachusetts Google Educator Group event and we primarily discussed how GAFE tools are saving Lynnfield teachers and students massive amounts of time during the research, writing, and grading process. What once was a three months process is now a six week process. Because students complete the research paper much faster, teachers are able to cover other curriculum topics throughout the year. Stephanie pointed out that Lynnfield’s adoption of a digital research method is better preparation for college level English classes since students will be expected to write 8 to 10 page research papers in as little as one to two weeks. During her own 100 page thesis paper, Stephanie mentioned she didn’t use one single piece of paper. And with tools like revision history and Easy Bib, moving to a digital research and writing process is a no brainer…not to mention teachers no longer have to sift through 75 index cards per student or take egg crates filled with stacks of paper home to grade over a long holiday weekend!

In terms of the tools, English teachers have integrated Google Docs and Classroom to help their students stay organized and efficient when writing the junior year research paper, a graduation requirement in Lynnfield. Teachers post one Google Doc in Classroom which contains links to 14 additional docs for each step of the research paper. Students are able to find everything they need in one spot. With Classroom, there is no more “guessing games” in terms of what was turned in and when it was turned in. There’s no more losing papers or forgetting drafts at home. With Google’s auto saving there’s no more, “my paper got deleted.” Teachers use the commenting feature to provide meaningful feedback throughout the entire process and by the time students are ready to write their final drafts, they have a master skeleton in a Google doc of their entire paper. Quotations are easily and quickly inserted and matched with the appropriate paragraphs; there’s no more tedious handwriting of index cards (many of which would get lost or unorganized), no more labeling and filing cards, and no more having to decipher messy handwriting.

Moving from an analog to digital research process has not only saved time, it has eliminated the need to print any drafts of the paper, except for the final draft. Prior to transitioning to GAFE, the research process in Lynnfield was “archaic” and disorganized according to Stephanie and Joseph and there was A LOT of printing. Now, teachers embrace (really they celebrate) the digital process because it saves them tremendous amounts of time. Most teachers would agree that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. So, for those of you who are looking for technology tools that will make your life and the lives of your students easier, look no further than Google Apps. Stephanie and Joey admitted that there were some teachers who were initially resistant to the transition, but once they tried it, and they realized how much better it was, they will never go back to the 20th century method of the research process.

Our twenty minute conversation is embedded below and I would strongly encourage you to listen directly to Stephanie and Joey and learn about how they created a paperless research process that their students and teachers love. If you adopt their strategy, you will be thanking them for years to come and you may wonder what to do during your “free time!”


  • I love the thought of sharing this with my English teachers. Is there any way I could get a copy? TIA

  • Hi Jenn, I’m really enjoying your videos regarding Google Apps – the first one I saw was the advanced forms and add-ons you did with Jenn Judkins and Eric.. very useful! I would also love to be able to “stand on the shoulders of giants” in this area of processes… It’s not just the “research” aspect that’s useful but the approach to building workflows that is both new to me and highly useful with the Google platform to make life really amazingly effective.

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