Teaching Tip – 5 Reasons Not to Print That

A small, much used Xerox photocopier in the li...Image via Wikipedia

I made a conscious decision to cut down on the amount of material that I photocopy for my classroom. It was just way too easy to take advantage of the shiny hi-tech device completely at my beck and call. I made so many copies the first few years of my career that I am sure the papers could have lined up along the entire length of the 401.*

It’s not uncommon for teachers to use hundreds or even thousands of photocopies a week. If you have a class of 25 students and do a daily math drill, you are already making 125 copies a week and that is for only one 5 minute task. That being said, I think math drills are very important and I wouldn’t suggest cutting out this practice.
Instead, find other ways you can cut down your printing.
1) Use the Board
You can write the questions from a worksheet on the board for the students to copy down and solve. This isn’t merely a cost-cutting strategy but an educational one as well, since the students will need this skill later on in high school or college.
2) Scan in Documents
If you have a SmartBoard or a computer projector you can scan a document into the computer to share with the class.

Remember overhead projectors where you had to photocopy a document onto a clear plastic sheet? Well this is so much easier and requires no clean up afterwards. Yay!

3) Document Camera
A document camera is a bit expensive but it is worth the price just in the amount of saved time it will give you. You no longer need to scan in documents, format them, and save them. You can take an entire book, or manipulative and have it projected.
One of the best things to do with a document camera is to use it to read a picture book to your class. You no longer have to assemble the class on the carpet to sit close to you as you read. This practice is often problematic since some students never can get close enough to the action and complain that they can’t see the pictures. Either that, or they constantly distract other students. All of these things are eliminated with a document camera since the students can stay at their desks and see the pictures magnified on the screen or SmartBoard.
4) Use Hands-On
Not every activity in school needs to involve a paper and pencil. There are plenty of other ways to assess a student’s work. You can provide them with hands-on activities and either observe their progress or ask them to explain to you what they are doing. These activities often help students learn concepts more readily than boring worksheets. For example, you can use snap cubes when teaching patterning in math.
5) Online books
There are plenty of reading materials that we can expose our students to without having to print them off. Certain websites such as Reading A to Z even have projectable books to save you from printing and assembling.
You can pull up a reading for any website to use for a lesson and read it to the class. You can highlight or underline key points, and take jot notes for the students to copy down. It’s a great way to lead a discussion about a key topic and to have the kids take notes.
Save paper.

These are just a few ideas on how to cut back on the amount of paper being used in the classroom. I think it also shows the students an important lesson about conservation and using the materials we have on hand to their fullest potential.
Even More Tips! 

Thanks for reading. Check out the Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive for more great ideas. Teachers helping teachers is what this is all about. Leave a comment below or send me an email or a tweet. I’d love to hear your ideas and teaching tips too.
*a highway in Southern Ontario, Canada. 
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