Boogie Board

St. Richard Elementary School

December 09, 2011

St. Richard Elementary School

Elementary School Uses Boogie Board eWriters to Reduce Paper Consumption, Improve Teaching and Learning

St. Richard Catholic Elementary School in Edmonton, Alberta set two goals for the 2010-2011 school year:

  • Reduce the number of photocopies created and distributed to students, caregivers and staff by 20%
  • Adapt to a 21st Century Learning Community that encourages critical/creative thinking, digital literacy and the use of education-based

The Issue

The Edmonton Catholic School District adopted a new 21st century learning mission statement over the past two years. Twenty first century learning emphasizes the importance of student involvement in every aspect of their learning experiences and real-world applications for those experiences. To move toward this more challenge-based style of learning, school communities must adapt to current socioeconomic trends inside and outside the classroom.

For St. Richard, adapting to these trends meant reducing their dependence on paper. Schools in the 20th century typically used a large amount of paper. Paper use increased significantly later in the century as desktop printers and photocopiers became more prevalent. These devices churned out sheet after sheet of paper for parent newsletters, test/quizzes, worksheets/workbooks, and forms. Use of blank loose leaf, sketch and scrap paper also contributed to the rise in paper consumption during the last century.

The Solution

Jeff Fillion, St. Richard principal, believed his school could reduce paper consumption by 20%. To be successful, he first needed to quantify the school’s current paper consumption and demonstrate it to students and teachers. He asked two students from each classroom to make a pile of paper reams that represented the amount of paper used by the entire school. 18 students alone had consumed 36 reams of paper, which equates to approximately 1,000 individual sheets of paper per student.

“The pile of paper was taller than our Assistant Principal,” said Fillion. “This visual was an effective way to send a message to our staff and students that we needed to revisit our paper use.”

Fillion considered several ways to reduce the school’s paper consumption including use of Boogie Board eWriters, which the school purchased for each teacher. “We felt if we could create some initial interest and commitment from staff and students, we would be justified in purchasing one for every student and staff member in the school,” said Fillion.

Students and teachers were then asked, “How can Boogie Board eWriters help us save paper?” Each class joined an online micro blog to share their many answers in real time. Below are a few of their ideas:

  • Math, handwriting and spelling practice
  • Journal and story writing
  • Take test and quizzes
  • Write down items for a chemistry experiment
  • Research notes
  • Little notes, messages and reminders
  • Rough copy for a story
  • Doodling, drawing and cartooning
  • Replace sticky notes
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Games and patterns

The ideas generated by the staff and students indicated the use of Boogie Board eWriters in the classroom would be a promising venture. The school began to build commitment for the project. Without hesitation, the school ordered enough Boogie Board eWriters for each student and staff member.

“The excitement was palpable when students received their Boogie Boards eWriters,” said Fillion. “Teachers and their students began to dream up new ways to show their learning with the eWriters. Some teachers even sewed carrying cases for the board and stylus for every child in their class.”

The Boogie Boards eWriters were used daily in every class for a wide variety of student activities, including many of those identified on the micro blog. Every Wednesday, the school also asked students to use them during The Morning Thunder Variety Show on The Morning News Broadcast. The variety show presented a challenge to the entire school that could be solved to varying degrees by students in any age group. Challenges ranged from, “What other uses could you think of for a tennis ball?” to “How do you take your boots off and not get your socks wet?”

Initially, some teachers were concerned that the Boogie Board eWriters were not always suitable for formative or summative assessments; there was no way to save the proof of learning. To address this issue, a digital or document camera was used preserve student work in their own digital portfolios (an element of 21st Century Learning).

Benefits

Throughout the year, students were never very far from their Boogie Board eWriters. The students and staff at St. Richard have realized many benefits from using their Boogie Board eWriters. They reduced paper consumption and photocopy costs by about 40%, double their intended goal. They also found Boogie Board eWriters are helping them achieve their goal of becoming a 21st Century Learning Community.

“We will continue to do our part to reduce the impact on our forests and the environment,” said Fillion. “Boogie Boards are an essential part of teaching and learning at St. Richard School!”

St. Richard’s success with the paperless Boogie Board eWriters also attracted the attention of other educators in the region. St. Richard hosted visits from school-based administrators from Edmonton and other parts of the province. As a result, over 600 additional Boogie Board eWriters were ordered by schools within the district.