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Going paperless in 6th grade science class

Nov 09, 2015 11:35AM ● Published by Neighbors Magazines

Julie Sengenberger, 6th grade science teacher, Rotolo Middle School

Going Paperless in 6th-Grade Science Class

Becoming a paperless classroom came about from a discussion that Mrs. Sengenberger had with her students at the beginning of this school year while setting up science folders.

“We were talking about what they needed, and I said, ‘I hope we have less than 10 pieces of paper in our folders this year.’”

Students didn’t think it was possible, which fueled the paperless challenge. Mrs. Sengenberger mentioned this challenge to Instructional Technologist Angie Sutherland who then found helpful online resources and facts to help her class take on the paperless challenge. 

A few surprising facts:

·         A single mature tree can release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support two humans.

·         One tree makes 16.67 reams of copy paper or 8,335 sheets.

“After learning about paper-consumption facts, the kids’ minds were blown,” says Mrs. Sengenberger. “I have 120 kids on my team. That’s 120 sheets of paper for every handout. Today, we worked on something that was five pages, so we saved 600 pieces of paper.”

Students quickly took ownership of the unique science project and started tracking class paper savings on a Google Sheet. In less than two months, the science class has saved approximately 6,000 sheets of paper, or 12 reams of paper, or just a few branches shy of a mature tree.

To avoid using paper, Mrs. Sengenberger says work is done in Google Classroom and that she and the class utilize Google apps, including Google Slides, Forms, Sheets, and Docs.

“It really comes down to saying, ‘I’m not going to use the copier. I’m going to figure out how to make this work electronically.’ It is a time commitment, but then again, I’m not spending any time at the copier copying or fixing a jam,” explains Mrs. Sengenberger.

The initial time commitment pays off, though, says the 6th-grade science teacher. For example, when grading students’ tests or quizzes taken via a Google Form, she uses the application Flubaroo to grade them. Within seconds, grading is completed, scores are ready to send individually to students, and trend data is available.

Mrs. Sengerberger hopes other teachers take the paperless challenge, even if not 100 percent.

“The kids love it because they love using technology,” she says. “Parents love it because they know their kids aren’t going to lose anything. And, if a Chromebook is dead, work can be completed on any other electronic device.”

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