Mailbag: No Paper? No Problem!

Aug 21, 2013

girl-hugging-treeHi Maia,

Can you help me out? I’m looking for suggestions from teachers on how to create a classroom environment with less paper for elementary and middle school parents, students and teachers.

How can we work with less paper, as our district that does not readily provide copy paper for teachers?

Thanking you in advance. I do hope to hear from you.



Hi Jennifer,

This is a great question, and I hear you on copy paper limits. I remember carefully allocating each of my 100 copies (or whatever the low number was) for my fourth graders. I also recall painfully recycling millions of pieces of paper at the end of each quarter. So, this is a twofer—cost savings and environmental concerns—all the while preserving effective assessment and communication.

Here are a few thoughts we gathered up for you—ranging from the oh-so-obvious to the slightly more creative:

  • Always print double-sided, with one-inch margins, in as small a font as your students can read.
  • Adjust your printer settings for 2 pages per sheet.
  • Create “sets” for the week. For example, list all warm-up or exit ticket questions on one piece of paper for the entire week. This is also a great way to track student learning!
  • Alternatively, you could purchase (or get cut for you on the cheap at a home improvement store) a set of whiteboards to use for parts of a lesson. Check out this teacher’s dream of whiteboard DESKS!
  • “Write” the questions on the board via PowerPoint and have students record answers in notebooks.
  • If students have access to technology, have them read and reply digitally to assignments. Google and Hapara are great tools for this.
  • Create a class website to post homework, reading assignments and family communications.
  • If your limits are set by paper-usage (rather than number of copies), hold a brunch at your home and require a package of copy paper for admission!

So, Jennifer, what do you think?! Are any of these ideas doable? What other brilliant ideas can the rest of you readers share?