English teacher going paperless

Going paper-free creates more convenient, sustainable classroom


Colin Canaday

Juniors Julia Salita and Liz Madigan work on an online assignment in English teacher Andrew Wilkes’s class Oct. 3. Wilkes works to go paperless this school year.

Adin Zweigbaum

When cleaning his room at the end of the year, English teacher Andrew Wilkes said he felt sad about the amount of paper he was wasting.

“I was throwing out just reams and reams of, either student work that’s been turned in, orstuff that, I printed out and we never ended up using. It just was kind of depressing,” Wilkes said.

Junior Isaac Scott said he felt excited about Wilkes going paperless because it shows teachers are finally taking care of the environment.

“It’s great to see teachers caring about the planet and taking initiative to do what they care about,” Scott said.

Wilkes feels that helping the environment, although important, is not the only reason people should go paper free. According to Wilkes, there’s also a whole convenience aspect to it.

“I also think about the fact that we have so many electronic means of doing stuff,” Wilkes said. ”I’ve switched to doing turnitin.com in terms of grading essays, and for me that has made my life so much easier.”

Junior Jonah Smith said he was concerned students may not all have equal access to technology.

“It just seems ethically wrong because not every student’s family can afford all the tech needed to do work from home,” Smith said.

Access to technology might be a concern, but according to Wilkes there are workarounds for students who do not have technology at home. 

“When it comes to access to technology and the internet, sometimes the assumption is that everybody has broadband, and there needs to be a way to do this that’s equitable and fair,” Wilkes said. ”I’m really reducing the amount of assignments that I do that are expected to be done at home.”

Smith has concerns that more technology in the classroom will lead to a greater chance of distraction and cause kids to fall off topic.

“Technology can be extremely distracting to students in class and can take away from the curriculum being provided,” Smith said. “If students didn’t have homework then maybe they would feel obligated to stay on task in class.”

Scott said he thinks technology will help students, contradicting what Smith said.

“I think it will help the students stay focused because kids like technology more than paper,” Scott said.

Wilkes said moving away from paper will help students and teachers in many ways.

“For me moving away from paper and forcing myself to look at everything allowed me to decide whether this is valuable for our students’ learning,” Wilkes said. “As a result, I think this is going to make the learning experience much more authentic.”