my (nearly) paperless beginning of the year

The past two years, all of the beginning of the year paperwork has killed my copy count. Each student has received:

  • a 2-page parent letter (including parent survey & signatures to be returned to me)
  • a 3-page syllabus
  • a 3-page grade contract
  • a 1-page participation rubric
  • a 1-page iPod contract and
  • a 1-page student survey (including signatures to be returned to me)

That added up to 11 pages of paper…times 100 students…equaled 1100 copies! I am NOT okay with that. Mostly because I know the paper is wasted. The stuff that goes home probably sits somewhere un-read or gets thrown away (not recycled). The stuff that comes back to me is filed away to (probably) never be looked at again.

So…since we have google apps for education, I decided to go to (mostly) electronic documents and forms. I sent a 2-page parent letter home with my students because I wanted to make sure parents got some sort of information telling them what to do and how. I also gave them a copy of the iPod contract because I think it is important to have them on file in case anything happens (more on why I have iPod touches in my classroom later).

In class, I showed all of the students how to access the syllabus, grade contract, participation rubric, electronic signatures for parents, and parent survey. Then I asked them to go home and teach their parents what to do. Are there still a lot of parents who haven’t completed the signature or survey? Yep. Where there quite a few who didn’t when I was all paper? Yep. If a parent emails me, I have also been able to give them the links to what they are missing.

During class, students used iPods to complete the electronic signatures for students and the student survey. My French 2 and 3 students also used the iPods to complete pre-tests to show me what they remembered from the previous level.

Have you ever used google forms? They are A-mazing. You can create a cute little survey (as seen in last week’s post) and the results show up instantaneously in an organized spreadsheet. I love being organized…electronically. This year I actually read all of the parent and student surveys. And if I want to look at any of them again, I can easily access them from anywhere. I have converted all of my important teacher paperwork to google docs and I am creating new documents exclusively with gdocs. I love being organized and having way less paper/trash around!


p.s. I used gdocs for all of my classes, not just French 1. See? You’ll also see (if you click on French 1, French 2 or French 3) that I created google calendars for each of my classes. I embedded the calendars into my website so that students can easily see if they have any upcoming assignments. Did you notice my twitter feeds? Also more coming about that later.