Will paper ever completely disappear from the classroom now more students are getting their own digital devices? The term “paperless” is really not a reality for a lot of classrooms. We should really be thinking of “less paper” as the terminology when transitioning to a digital classroom.

Less Paper With Google

Using Google Apps for students to submit work electronically.

Less Paper With Edmodo

Use Edmodo to adapt tests, assignments and classroom discussions to digital.

Less Paper With Notability

Use iPads for digital journals, notes, and annotating any PDF.

Estimate the amount of paper you use per year. Don’t forget to include copies that were made by your district or school copy service.

This number does not represent all the paper used when also including lined paper students use for assignments and spiral bound notebooks.

There are many benefits to using less paper resources in classrooms. One of the most important is cost savings on paper which is also good for the environment, but there is also a high level of efficiency that can be developed in the distribution instructional materials digitally.

Which of these would be more efficient?

  • Run to the copy machine or create a PDF and save to Google Drive?
  • Purchase stack of paper journals for students or have them make unlimited number in Notability that can easily be shared with the teacher?
  • Dirty desks with paper everywhere and students easily losing work or clean desks with students unable to easily lose assignments and other documents distributed to their iPads?


Everything does not have to be done paperless. You will find lots of specific actions and directions on how they can easily adapt some of the classroom work to the digital realm. Find the things that are easiest for your students to start with and build from there.

Here are some strategies for easing the transition.

  • Setup a routine for certain tasks so that it is not a one off thing.
  • Have students be an active part of using less paper.
  • Share resources with other teachers if you are using similar digital materials.
  • Before you make a copy of something, ask yourself if it could just as easily be distributed digitally.


While it is pretty easy to create PDFs of worksheets, this can be an opportunity to change some of the practices that are worksheet driven. Over the long term finding adaptations to instructional practices can save more time as you are having to reproduce less materials for your students learning and they spend more time engaged with creative tools.