Carolina Biological OSE - June 2024


Forums / Chemistry / Paperless in the Chemistry Classroom


Paperless in the Chemistry Classroom

Author Post
Cristin Brown Cristin Brown 10 Points

Hello.  I am attempting to go mostly paperless in my chemistry classroom this year. My notes will be posted online as they have been in the past.  I can easily put lab activities online and I intend to still give summative assessments on paper. I would like for my formative assessments to be paperless.  My formative assessments tend to be practice problems in worksheet form.  In the past I have graded them on paper and would like to figure out a way to have them paperless and not easily shared with each other.  I am struggling with how to have them demonstrate that they understand how to solve chemistry problems.  I can easily upload my worksheets to google classroom and have them submit them to me with their answers, but how will I know how they arrived at the answer?  How can I give partial credit or figure out where they went wrong?  Have any of you gone paperless?  If so, what tips do you have?  I am willing to not use worksheets as my formative assessments but my method needs to be easily graded as my class size is typically around 30 and I have 6 classes. Open to any tips or suggestions.  Thank you.

Beverly DeVore-Wedding Bev DeVore-Wedding 6668 Points

Hello Cristin, Your planned formative assessments are in place of homework? Just curious as I found my students do not often do their homework if I have them do problems in class. So wondering how that works for you! But back to checking your students' work if you do go paperless. I will set up problems and ask students to provide the next step or to start a problem or what units do they need to see their thinking and work, instead of asking for an answer to a problem. Your paperless FA can have students answer open-ended questions so you do not have to provide choices for them either. I also will ask them to proofread-i.e. find the error in a problem. Then explain what was incorrect and how to fix it. Sometimes I have students submit a video showing their solving of a problem. I also ask them to reference who they worked with, not to get in trouble, etc. but so I know who they are working with and if mistakes are made I can help both (or more) students correct their thinking. I will use old fashion whiteboard for students and have them solve showing steps on the whiteboard in class for checks on their work as well. Clickers are another way for ease in grading, and again you can have students provide the next step or correct an error, however, with clickers it is easier to be multiple choice, etc. But you can elicit more information with discussions. Grouping students and have each group solve different problems and then explain them to class. Hope this helps! Bev

Gustavo Sanabria Gustavo Sanabria 525 Points

Hello Cristin,

Now that some months have passed I am wondering what was the biggest challenge for you going paperless? Did it work better than you thought? I like the initiative you are taking because as science educators we should be doing the most to save trees and prevent using stacks of paper that can feasibly be replaced. Hope to hear on how your endeavour went!


Chris Leverington Chris Leverington 4035 Points

I haven't gone paperless necessarily but I do a handful of things that don't necessarily involve paper.


I do a lot of individual and group whiteboarding.  I have small whiteboards where every kid gets their own and then put problems up for them to solve.  I also do this in groups of 3-4 on big whiteboards.  This allows me to walk around and watch them do the problems and see where they are making their mistakes.  I don't grade these things.  


Bev mentioned videos. There is a great app called flipgrid that I have used a bunch in formative assessments.  You create a question or assignment and then they can film up to a 90 second video of them answering the question.   So you could give them 4 or 5 questions as their formative assessment and they have to choose one of them to walk you through in their 90 second video.  Then you could grade them based on their successful completion of the problem and their explanation of how to solve the problem.

Rachel Stagner Rachel Stagner 215 Points

I second flipgrid... it's a great resource.  Here's a link to more online formative assessment tools:

I really like Padlet, Kahoot, and Socrative.  Lots of creative ways to do formative assesments with those.  

If you have iPads, Show Me is a great app that lets you or students write out answers to problems with a voiceover.  Search for ShowMe Interactive Whiteboard.

Good luck!  We've tried to go paperless in chemistry, too, but have stuck to having a paper notebook since we're not a 1:1 school.  We use Canvas, too, as a course shell, and do all of our assessments online (so much easier to grade!).  

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