Monday, February 02, 2009


Welcome to the new TeachPaperless website!

Look forward to updates all focused on one thing: helping you set up, maintain, and become more innovative in a paperless classroom.

Why Paperless?

Three years ago, the school at which I teach made the move to one-to-one computing. Initially there was hesitancy on behalf of much of the faculty with regard to the use of the new machines and confusion about how to best implement the new technology in the classroom in an effective and authentic way. For many, the technology of wireless tablet-PCs and LCD projectors amounted to not much more than a word-processor hooked up to a glorified overhead projector. Not that they were wrong... it's just that, for all of us and myself included, our thinking was trapped in the static paradigm we'd always lived with. A paradigm of strict schedules, top-down decisions, and analog television. But the world was growing more dynamic by the hour.

Over the last two years, I have seen a real change in relations to technology in the classroom. And that change has been student-driven.

It has to do with RSS technology and the ways in which students are communicating with each other and with the world. Blogging and social-networking is no longer a fringe past-time; it is in fact the way some of us get our news, find our entertainment, and organize our lives. It is the basis behind basic networking sites like MySpace and Facebook as well as interactive media like YouTube, Hulu, Pandora, and the like. The recent presidential election demonstrated the power and integrity of the best of blogging with sites like and Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish really inspiring the national conversation in a way that a static and arcanely scheduled medium just can't.

When it comes down to the brass tacks, whether it's updating your weekend's schedule on Google Cal or responding with a comment to any and all of the personal blogging sites on WordPress or Blogger or whether it's in reading the archives of the nominally-titled professionals blogging for the NY Times, it all runs on fundamentally the same principle: that life is immediate and so is the Internet.

You don't have to wait for someone to tell you IT'S TIME. You don't have to be on someone else's schedule. You can no longer complain that opportunity doesn't come your way. You go out there and get what you want. You make your own schedule. You make your own opportunities. You can do what you want NOW.

Our students are coming of age in the era of dynamic technology. Gone, or waning, are the days of static TV console game-systems [ whether you call them Atari or Nintendo depending on your age ;) ] Today's games are multi-player and live and the rules of the road are bendable, adjustable, online, and dynamic. Customization is the norm whether on iGoogle or in getting one's daily weather report. News is immediate through the use of Newsreaders and personalized Feeds. And the future of the Internet is going to make TiVo look like TV.

The overhead transparency paradigm just don't cut it no more. The kids don't buy it. And they shouldn't.

We will have no choice but to embrace what's on the digital horizon. And there is no need to fear it. I've been in discussions with teachers who fear that schools are becoming TOO tech-driven and they fear a classroom of students staring blankly into a row on monitors. But, I have to say that technology has actually opened up my own classes to MORE discussion and better arguments. Gone are days of random presumptuous opinion -- thanks to each student having a virtual compendium of knowledge sitting on their desks, we are both more able and expected to check each other and call each others' misconceptions in real-time. And we -- including me, the teacher -- learn from our own preconceptions and mistakes. Further, because all of the busy-work and preparation for class can be done outside of class in a variety of environments where students can learn authentically without the teacher having to sit as proctor, we actually have more time in class to DISCUSS!

As an example, it used to take my Latin III students about three-weeks to complete a translation of Catullus 64. Now, scheduling everything online, it takes them about ten days. Rather than rush on to another poem, now I take that remainder time and use it to foster class discussions about Catullus 64. In other words, the technology has actually afforded us MORE time to talk with one another in class!

Furthermore, I like to think that in my small way of maintaining a Paperless digital classroom, I might be saving not only trees, but the resources of my school that can better be spent on things like music lessons, drama-club performances, and fresh turf for the athletic field. Technology can save your school money. And I doubt many folks would argue that paper is worth more than all of the things you can do with the money saved by eliminating the use of paper.

And so, in a nutshell, It is my goal to help you become both more comfortable with digital pedagogy as well as more independent of the old static dictates of textbooks and scantrons. It is my desire to help you realize in your own classrooms the dynamic possibilities that going Paperless provides.

Because it's not just about saving paper. It's about thinking in a new way.

Please subscribe to the blog; I look forward to your comments, observations, and personal accounts of using paperless technology in your own classrooms!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Shelly, What a great post! It is astonishing to think that I can be the first to respond to it. This idea of a paperless classroom is really quite intriguing. While saving natural resources, it gives us another prospect towards developing and nurturing human resources! I look forward to reading more. In fact you see that I've gone right back to the beginning. I quite look forward to learning how you get your students through Catullus 64 so expeditiously. I love that poem. Valeas quam optime et gratias tibi ago.

    Paul Perrot


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