Friday, August 14, 2015

Tools for a Paperless Classroom

Over the summer vacation I have been having conversations with many of my teacher friends about their professional goals for the upcoming school year. I have been surprised by how many of them have set their sights on striving toward a paperless classroom. During my time in the classroom, I too tried to make my classroom as paperless as possible. Yet as any K-12 teacher knows, it is a hard feat to do away with all printed handouts and materials and the photocopier is often an educator’s best friend. However, as Ed tech keeps changing the face of the classroom, there are a variety of tools being built to help those teachers who are eager to go paperless. The following are a few exceptional resources to help manage and organize a paperless classroom:

Showbie is a platform that helps teachers assign, gather, grade and return assignments. Both tablet and web versions of Showbie are available to enable teachers to organize their workflow. During the grading process, teachers are able to add personalized annotations, corrections and voice notes. Similarly, when assignments are sent out using Showbie, the tool allows students to annotate on the handouts directly in the app. Showbie also has the capacity to sync with over 1000 different apps, allowing your students to submit their work from other tools such as Noteability. 

Vision ME
Vision ME is a classroom management app that allows teachers to manage the classroom workflow, from assigning activities to gathering and grading. Beyond materials management, Vision ME also allows students to chat with other students in real time in order to provide valuable feedback. Furthermore, Vision ME has embedded features like a blank attention screen to grab students’ focus and the ability to limit Internet access on student tablets. Another excellent feature of this particular tool is that it is not only available in English, but also in SpanishFrenchDutchGerman and Japanese.

Google Classroom
We have written before about Google classroom, a space where teachers can organize their workflow by easily creating assignments, distributing materials, gathering completed work and tracking grades, all in one paperless space. On the assignments page, students are able to see what has been assigned and when it is due, which they can access from both home and school. In addition, teachers are able to monitor who has completed their assignment and provide feedback to any students who appear to be struggling. Google Classroom also has the capacity to enhance communication, as teachers are able to send announcements to students and parents or instigate class discussions through the tool. The really exciting aspect of using Google classroom is that is it constantly being developed, upgraded and improved. For example, in July 2015, Google expanded the tool to included mobile notifications. 

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