An Earth Day Pledge for Paperless Classrooms

An Earth Day Pledge for Paperless Classrooms

Imagine a classroom without any paper — I've found at least one.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 - 10:00pm


I'm sitting here on the plane right now on the way to Miami. In front of me I have 8 pieces of paper that I printed out containing background information on the story I am about to share with you. And the irony of it all: this post is on being paperless. Meet Shelly Blake-Plock, an instructor who teaches paperlessly in his classroom. Many may know him as the guy who writes TeachPaperless — a blog about "all aspects of paperless, digital, and technological culture as it relates to education."

The way that Blake-Plock got into this is interesting. The basic gist is that he used to be a "paper junkie" printing out thousands of sheets a year. Then one day he couldn't figure out how to connect his laptop to his printer and was too lazy to ask for help, so he began avoiding printing at all costs. Nowadays it seems his paperless philosophy has evolved into something deeper than laziness. There's an environmental aspect to it, a financial piece to it (It costs about $24,250 for printing and paper per year at a school of 800 students), and there's a cultural element, too: "I'm against the static idea of knowledge that paper so often represents. That's not where the future assignments are naturally dynamic. I do this because that's what the kids understand. They are already living the post-paper knowledge life. They understand that in the future, (and the future is now), knowledge is dynamic and collaborative."

So just how does Blake-Plock do it? I'm still trying to figure it out, but it seems as though it's a combination of experimental tools like blogs, Twitter, Google Apps and more. In one of the blog posts I read, Blake-Plock wrote about how he has students keep a blog throughout the year. For kicks, he copied and pasted one of the blogs into a word processing program to see how many pages the student saved on printing on just this one assignment — 107 pages!

Besides the fact that Blake-Plock's story is super interesting, this post is to let all the educators out there know about an upcoming happening.  Blake-Plock and tech ed leader, Steve Katz, have begun advocating a pledge they've created for teachers around the world "to go paperless in their classrooms for Earth Day." This year on Earth Day, April 22, teachers worldwide will give up using paper for one day. They will refuse to accept assignments written on paper, they will avoid handing out paper tests and they will find creative ways to teach without paper. More than 900 teachers had already signed up the last time I checked. As Katz writes, "Consider taking the pledge, and think about this first paperless day as one step toward finding alternatives for paper in your class, and improving instruction with the use of technology." If you're an educator, consider it. If not, pass it along to your teacher friends, children's teachers, or perhaps think about making your own day as paperless as possible. To sign up for the pledge, fill out this form or visit Blake-Plock's blog.

By Gawky Green of Two Girls Go Green is dedicated to our users. We focus our attention on changing the world through recycling, waste-to-energy and conservation. We reward our users for their sustainable behaviors on our website, through our Greenopolis Tracking Stations and with curbside recycling programs.