Paperless worksheets – Going 1 to 1

I’m not going to hesitate when I say that a teacher’s best friend is… the photocopier.  I’ve been guilty of it as well until this year, but teachers do not often think twice before going to the photocopier to get a few copies of worksheets to hand out in their next lesson.  So what has changed for me?  Why has this year brought about a more conscious effort to reduce photocopying?

With the intentional integration of iPads in the junior half of our school, its important to make good use of the technology.  The device costs a lot and if we were to continue teaching as we once were then it would not make good use of this technology.  A quote I really love says this:

“If we teach today as we did yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow.” – John Dewey

Another reason for going as paperless as possible with the integration of iPads is so that the teaching and learning experiences planned can cater for the needs of the students we teach now.  Students now do not learn in the same way as those students who first started using a pen and paper.  Anyway, that is why I decided to consciously NOT do photocopying at all for my lessons, but utilise technology in as many ways as possible to model the paperless classroom.

The biggest issue in going paperless is the use of worksheets in the classroom and the best workflow for distributing them digitally, having them completed and then handed in for review/marking.  I wrote another blog post that went through what was decided for handling worksheets and converting them into worksheets that allow for text input called ‘iPad Workflow in the Classroom‘ and it outlined how Adobe Acrobat Pro will be utilised to convert PDFs into online forms essentially.  As an online form, however, the PDF has text fields where students can provide their answers and write notes and then open in Moodle to submit to their teacher or email it.  Many worksheets teachers have are Word docx but if you Save as… PDF and then open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can convert it easily (see below).

Screen Shot 2013-10-21 at 8.35.25 PM

However, today it came up that a colleague wanted to create a booklet of worksheets etc to distribute to students to be able to complete and hand in and they wanted it to do it digitally.  I knew I could convert the documents and have them each as separate worksheets but I didn’t realise I could merge them so easily into one PDF.  Then I discovered the option to Combine files into a single PDF (duh, its right there).  You simply select all the PDFs you wish to combine and its done.  So within a very short time I had converted Word docx into PDFs, PDFs into online forms and these online forms into a booklet of combined PDFs.  It works great and I was really excited to be able to share this with my colleague.

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