Technology Tips: Using Email to Save Time and Paper

Do you have a love hate relationship with technology in your classroom? I know I have always loved learning new tricks of the trade, but sometimes hated trying to figure out new ways to incorporate technology in meaningful and time saving ways.

One of my favorite technology tips that saved me a lot of time and copying was teaching my students to use email.  Now I was lucky enough to teach in a school that had a 1:1 iPad initiative so each one of my kiddos had their very own iPad assigned to them, making this easier for me to implement. however you could tweak it just a little bit to use the same ideas with just one or a few class iPads.
So how on earth did I get my kinders to learn how to email me, quickly, without 873 questions at the beginning of the year when they were still learning to write their own name let alone use email? It actually was quite simple and within a week they were pros! Here is what I did.
First, I started with a little help from our building tech coordinator.  She pulled each one of my students and set up their individual email accounts on their iPads with them.  This was a lifesaver for me so I didn't have to lug all 20 iPads home to enter their info. If you've ever tried to carry 20 iPads at the same time, you know how ridiculously heavy they are, not to mention the fear that something horrible will happen to them in route.
Next, I gathered all my sweetie pies on the carpet in a large circle with their iPads in hand.  We went through each one of these steps together.
  1. Open the camera app.
  2. Take a picture.
  3. Tap the share icon.
  4. Click on email.
  5. Type in my teacher email address. {This part was probably the craziest and most time consuming considering many were still learning letters, but I had the address written on the board and helped a lot.  The best part was that after entering my email once, it automatically pops up after they just type in the first letter!}
After practicing this whole routine a few times together, everyone was able to do it independently! I'm always amazed how quickly their little brains absorb technology! 

Okay, now you're probably wondering how teaching my students to email pictures to me really helped me accomplish anything.  As cute as their little selfies are, I had bigger plans in mind.  Plans that included more accountability and less paper.  

I use Words Their Way in my classroom and my students complete their sort every morning when they come in.  Walking around to check all of their sorts every day, while trying to do lunch count, attendance, and take care of all the morning craziness was just getting to be a mess. So once they learned how to email I just had students take a quick picture of their completed sort. This email option not only saves me time, but I can also keep a record of their work and easily identify any confusions.  This record is also great to share with parents.
Another way to use email with little ones to save on paper is in centers.   Sometimes I don't necessarily need a response sheet for a center, but for accountability reasons, I feel like I'm always creating or searching for one.  With email, students can take a picture of their work (a number sort, ordering numbers, a shape hunt, words they have made with magnets, play dough, etc.)  This definitely doesn't replace those centers that I need students to practice writing something, but does help a lot!

When students get a bit better at writing, they can start to type and email them to me.  Again not a complete substitute for handwritten work, but another fun option for sure!
We also use the scribble press app to write and create stories.  This app has a share by email option as well so this will be great for feedback as students are working.
Another fantastic idea I got from a 4/5 teacher in my building was to use it for general questions and needs throughout the day, especially when I am with a group.  Instead of students leaving their spot and interrupting my small group time during daily 5/math/writing, they can simply email a question or need that they have to the teacher.  I always have my iPad next to me so I would receive the email notification immediately and be able to respond quickly without much disruption to my small group or the rest of the class. Now of course this will be a bit more complicated for kindergartners that can't always write what they are trying to say....so my thoughts are to have students use the dragon dictation app to quickly say their question and then email it.  When they receive my response they  just highlight the text and click on the speak icon (needs to be turned on in the accessibility options first) to have it read aloud to them.  PROBLEM SOLVED!!
I'd love to hear any great ideas you have for using email in the classroom with your kiddos. Leave a comment to share your ideas!

2 comments:

  1. OMG! I love this idea! This is absolutely genius. I have them take pictures on their ipads of their work, but didn't think to have them email them. This would save so much time.

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    Replies
    1. Definitely a light bulb moment for me for sure! I love how easy iPads make it for my kinders to do it quickly and independently too.

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