The Techie Teacher's Thoughts About a "Paperless" Classroom

The Techie Teacher's® thoughts about a PAPERLESS classroom: is this an ideal learning environment?

Back in March I ran across the news article: Children Struggle to Hold Pencils Due to Too Much Tech, Doctors Say. It seriously stopped me in my tracks and I had to sit down and take a deep breath. My entire blog and social media sites are dedicated to sharing creative ways teachers can incorporate technology into their lessons but THIS post is long overdue. Before I begin, if you didn't know already,  I LOVE educational technology, when it is used in meaningful ways. However, after reading that article I decided I needed to write a post containing my true feelings about "paperless" classrooms.

Of course it is a better environmental approach to engage in paperless activities. You can also really increase your productivity! However, having students, especially children, use digital devices to do all of their school work doesn't always mean quality learning and teaching is taking place. I consider effective use of technology in the classroom to enhance and develop the learning experience for every child.

Digital Resources

Sharing and using digital resources has become increasingly popular. However, we need to make sure we are using a variety of academic activities that have the ability to turn students into creators, communicators, collaborators and critical thinkers. If we always use click and drag activities in which students are not able to engage in the 4Cs, are we really using technology to its full potential? Just because students are using a device to complete a task doesn't always mean it is the best type of instruction. Therefore, I am always careful to analyze the digital activities I assign to students. ☝Don't get me wrong, click and drag activities are great for the younger ones to develop trackpad skills and learn how to use a mouse; however, that isn't something they should be doing all year long.

My Thoughts

Like everything else we do in life whether that is dieting, exercising, etc., the KEY is VARIETY and MODERATION. Hands down, all students need a balance between using technology and traditional learning activities. It saddens me to read things like the following that appeared in the article linked in the first paragraph of this post: "An overuse of touchscreen phones and tablets is preventing children's finger muscles from developing sufficiently to enable them to hold a pencil correctly."

2nd grade teacher, Mary Ledford, does a great job balancing tech with "traditional" practices.

So here it is folks! The "Techie" Teacher® is screaming from the mountain tops: A PAPERLESS CLASSROOM DOES NOT ALWAYS MAKE THE IDEAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT. We have to give our students access to paper, pencils, crayons, markers, scissors and GLITTER (come on...you know how much the kids love glitter) to truly develop their fine motor skills and most importantly, their minds. Taking all of that away and having them do everything digitally so we can be a "paperless classroom" isn't always the best answer.

Kindergartners in Mrs. Chenault's class use markers and crayons to illustrate a scene. Then they use an app of their choice to make their scene come alive and talk. Then they upload their videos to Seesaw to share with each other and their parents.

I know I always ask myself before students pick up a device "How will this benefit their learning?" The power and capability of technology in today's classroom can have an incredible impact on students of all abilities-once again, when used purposefully and in moderation. Therefore, do we truly want to have a completely "paperless classroom"?

The Techie Teacher's® thoughts about a PAPERLESS classroom: is this an ideal learning environment?
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