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15 Tools to Help You Go Paperless

Cross Posted at The Apple

Kelly Tenkely |

Schools are notorious for enormous copy budgets.  Between parent/home communications, student work, and staff communication, schools are drowning in a sea of paper.  Transforming the school into a paperless environment is eco-friendly, budget friendly, and can increase productivity.  With all of the free online options, going green is easier than ever.

Paperless students and teachers:

1. Spelling City

Spelling city is a free online environment where students can practice and study spelling words.  Instead of handing out a paper spelling list at the beginning of each week, give your students a link to Spelling City where they can find the weeks spelling words.  Sign up as a Spelling City teacher (free) and enter spelling lists.  Students can get onto Spelling City and find spelling lists by searching the teacher name.  Spelling city will teach your students the spelling words by saying the word and then using it in a sentence.  Students can practice their spelling words by playing games with the words, there are several games to choose from.  Spelling city will even give practice spelling tests to students.  For a small fee, teachers can set up record books and give the final spelling test online.  Put an end to copies of spelling lists and send your kids online.  You will save trees and students will get great practice with their words.

2. Tut Pup

Every month teachers all over the world print out hundreds of fact practice worksheets.  Tut Pup is an outstanding free math-fact practice website.  It is a competition between students from around the world.  As students practice their math facts, they can see how they measure up with other students, motivating them to work at their math-facts and speed up.  Students are matched up with other students from around the world where they play fact games and compete in real time to see who best knows their stuff.  There is nothing more motivating than a little healthy competition!  The site doesn’t collect any personal information from students, they are provided generic login information.  Tut Pup helps students build math fact skills in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, algebra, or a mixture of those skills.  Tut Pup is highly motivating, takes into account different learning levels, and builds a variety of math-fact skills.  Each student can work on math facts at their ability level.  Lower level students are engaged and feel successful, and higher level students are challenged.  This site will have your students asking, “can I play this game at home too?”  When have you ever had a student ask to practice math facts at home?  Students truly love the competition of this site and get the added benefit of increasing their math-fact recall skills without running up the copy quotient.

3. Popling

Popling’s motto is “Learning without studying”.  This website allows you to create virtual flash cards that pop up on a computer screen every few minutes (teachers determine how often) while students work on the computer.  Classroom computers can be set up with Poplings about any subject.  As students are working on the computers they can also be practicing math facts, vocabulary, geography, etc.  These flash cards are a great way for students to study without creating sets and sets of 3×5 notecards.

4. Knowtes

Knowtes is a flash card based learning community that allows teachers and students to build flash card decks online.  The flash cards can then be studied online.  When cards are added to a Knowtes deck, it becomes due at optimized intervals.  The Knowtes ‘Adaptive Learning Engine’ adjusts how frequently cards should be studied based on how well students know them.  Knowtes decks can be easily shared between teachers, students, and peer groups.  Each student gets their own study room where they can organize their decks and study.  The study rooms include helpful tips for studying.  Cards can be created with text, images, audio, and video.  This is a great way for students to study sans 3×5 note card.  These are truly smart flash cards, if a student consistently gets an answer wrong, it requires them study it more than those that they consistently get right.  What paper note card can do that?

5. Soshiku

Soshiku is a web tool for students that helps them manage their assignments.  Soshiku keeps track of when assignments are due and can even notify students by email or SMS (text message).  With each assignment students can save notes, manage tasks, attach files, and share messages with assignment partners.  Soshiku is organization for this generation, paper planners are so 1996.

6. mySchoolog

mSchoolog is a free web-based application that helps students organize their school life easily.  Students can organize and share notes, to-to lists, appointments, store documents and files, and add lessons.  Students learn valuable responsibility and organizational skills without toting around extra papers and purchased planners.  Students won’t have the “I lost my planner” excuse any more!

7. Live Binders

Live Binders is an online 3-ring binder.  It allows students and teachers to combine web content with PDF and word documents in an online binder.  The binder can be organized into tabs and subtabs and be embedded on blogs and other websites, or downloaded to a computer desktop.  Live Binders can be used as an online digital portfolio for students.  Because the Live Binder is online, students can access their binder from school, library, home, or any Internet connected computer.  Teachers can use Live Binders to create classroom ‘textbooks’ that combine relevant online content, teacher created worksheets, and notes.  Assignments can be added to classroom Live Binders that contain all of the instructions, related materials, and links to related content.  Students can easily access the binders from home, no more lost papers or assignments turned in looking like they went through World War III.  Students can create a Live Binder to keep themselves organized as they complete a research project.  When the project is finished, students can turn in the final project as a Live Binder that includes all web research, notes, and the final written work.   School handbooks for staff and parents can be saved as a Live Binder.  Rather than making paper copies of school handbooks, they can be distributed by a single link and easily updated as needed.

8. Zoho and Google Docs

These online services allow teachers and students to create and share documents online.  They also provide the ability to collaborate on documents.  Online document creators are fantastic for student writing and lesson planning.  There are no papers to store and sort through, and they can be easily accessed by any Internet connected computer.

Paperless communication:

9.  Sign app now

Sign app now makes it easy for schools to create online signup sheets.  The site is so simple to use; in 3 easy steps teachers can create signup sheets for classroom volunteers, field trips, lunch orders, school duties, committees, and a myriad of other tasks that require a signup.   Create a sign up sheet by giving the sign up sheet a name, filling in the email address that the signup sheet should be sent to, and your name.  Sign App Now creates a unique link that can be emailed to everyone that has the option to signup.  When parents or other staff members receive the form, they click on the link and fill in their name.  That is it!  An email is sent back to the signup sheet creator with those who have signed up.  No more shuffling paper signup sheets around!

10.  R Campus

R Campus is a great one-stop shop for everything school related.  R Campus is a collaborative environment that utilizes the Open Education Management system that makes it easy to build personal and group websites, manage courses, e-portfolios, academic communities, build rubrics, connect students with tutors, and host a book exchange.  All of these tools are completely free for students and faculty to access.  R Campus is an excellent way to organize classroom life and to help keep students organized.  Everything in R Campus is integrated, making management seamless.  Students stay well informed and communication opportunities grow…all without paper!  Students can showcase their learning with the e-portfolios.  Teachers can easily communicate, assist, and assess throughout the year as the e-portfolios grow.  Rubrics creation is fast and can be shared online with both students and other teachers.  This collection of resources is excellent for communicating with parents and students, grading, and organizing your classroom without hundreds of copies.

11. Twitter

Twitter has become more popular lately with the addition of tweeting celebrities.  Twitter can also be used as a communication tool between home and school.  Create a classroom Twitter account where students and parents can quickly get information about your classroom.  Tweet homework assignment directions, reminders about upcoming class events, short memos about the happenings in your classroom, etc.  Twitter should put an end to the little paper notes that travel between school and home.  Those little notes often get lost in the shuffle anyway!  Twitter is also an outstanding place for teachers to build a network of educators that share ideas and best practices in the classroom.

12. School Notes

Teachers can use School Notes to quickly create notes for homework and class information and post them on the web in seconds.   Parents and students view notes by entering the school zip code.  This is a great way to stop the flow of little notes that get sent home for daily updates.


Qlubb will change the way you communicate and interact with parents. Qlubb is a free site that features event calendaring, signup sheets, to-do lists, automatic event and task reminders, photo sharing, member rosters, and a bulletin board. Everything is very intuitive to use, parents and teachers will have no problem jumping in and using Qlubb for home/school communication. This all inclusive communication site will keep you from sending papers home.

14.  Shelfari

Shelfari is a virtual bookshelf where teachers can recommend books to their students.  Instead of sending home paper reading lists, create a virtual reading list with a virtual bookshelf.  Shelfari goes beyond book recommendations, it is a great way to discover new titles, discuss books, start an online book club, and share what you are reading with others.  Teachers can share lists with students.  Students can create bookshelves of their own where they can display what they are reading, leaving comments and a rating for the book.  Shelfari is the perfect place for students and teachers to connect about reading without paper reading logs.

15.  Engrade

Engrade is a free online gradebook and record keeper that allows teachers to manage their classes online as well as post grades, assignments, attendance, and upcoming homework for parents and students to see.  The Engrade suite provides a gradebook that automatically calculates grades and provides tools for custom grading scales and weighting assignments, an attendance book that automatically emails parents with absences, a homework calendar for students and parents, and online reports where students can view their grades, homework and attendance in real time.  With paper versions of gradebooks, assignment and attendance keepers, the printed copy is the final word.  Because Engrade is web based, teachers can update grades and homework assignments from any Internet connected computer.  Less to carry between school and home equals happy teachers.  Engrade is a secure, password protected site so there are no concerns about privacy or security of grades.

Going paperless doesn’t have to be a chore, in fact these tools will make classroom management and communication significantly easier to keep track of.

How do you go paperless? Share your ideas below!

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Founder of Anastasis Academy, The Learning Genome Project, 5Sigma Education Conference, tech integration specialist, instructional coach, writer, dreamer.

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  1. I love your blog! Thanks so much for all the information that you share. You have become one of my #1 sources for information and one of the 1st resources I share with others. Thanks again.

  2. Well it is really a nice way to make the work more eassier and to remove the paper work completely by using different type of softwares and tools.

  3. OurShelf is a great application to help you go paperless. It’s like Shelfari, but for any object, not just books. Some professors at Drexel University use it to manage their personal library that they lend out to students, others use it for a digital drop box. It’s a great platform to have rich communication and interaction on, related to items in an environment. Check it out and let me know what you think!
    Send me an email if you have any questions.

    Paul (CEO and co-founder)

  4. eBOARD is also a great tool to help administrators go paperless. It’s great not just for paperless board meetings, but also to share and manage online policies and communicate/update strategic plans.

    EBS just put up a new Video Showcase featuring superintendents, board members and other district leaders explaining how they use it and why.

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