Can't say the dog ate it: Teachers cut paper from class

In classrooms throughout South Florida, paper is becoming more of a relic than an educational staple.

The result: homework done online. Paperless term papers. Math problems completed on an interactive whiteboard. An entire course of physics problems contained on a single compact disc. And, schools hope, savings in an ever-tightening budget crunch.

"It's budget, it's green, it's best educational practices," said Mark Strauss, principal of Virginia Shuman Young Elementary in Fort Lauderdale.

At schools around Florida, educators are trying to trim the reams of paper they use to save money, spare trees and keep kids engaged in ways that old-fashioned writing just doesn't allow.

While schools would be hard-pressed to eliminate paper altogether, technologies like interactive whiteboards and document projectors have proven to be popular substitutes.

Strauss keeps track of how many copies teachers are making and sends a note (e-mail, of course) to those who have fewer than 500 per month with "a thank you for thinking green and helping the budget," he said.

Those who exceed 2,000 copies in a month get a note urging them to reconsider their paper-dependent ways.

"If they can get more engaged in active learning and less reliant on worksheets, they'll learn more," Strauss said.