Excessive Print Job

When I was in grade 3 or 4, my family had a computer in the basement.  It ran Windows 95 and my parents installed a handful of games on it that I would like.  I loved the exploration games.  I also loved to research.  One evening, I decided I wanted to learn more about our beautiful country, so I decided to print an article from Encyclopedia Britannica on Canada.  What I didn’t know how to do yet was to find out how many pages a document would print.  It turned out that the document was over 100 pages long.  As the pages poured out of the printer, my dad came downstairs.  I was in a minor panic mode at this point, afraid that I was going to be in trouble.  It turned out that I wasn’t in trouble, and he took the opportunity to teach me how to copy and paste sections into another document, how to check printer settings, etc.  I learned from my mistake and never repeated it.  My dad’s patient approach to the situation turned it into a positive experience for me.

Questions that this memory brings to my mind at the moment are:

  • When we have multiple students working on multiple devices simultaneously, how can we as educators best capture teachable moments for technological literacy?
  • Do we inadvertently discourage students from experimenting with technology when we focus on cost of supplies and efficient use of resources in the wake of seemingly ever-decreasing budgets?


  1. I can completely relate to your experience with accidental excess printing. I remember accidentally pressing the esc key while my Dad was loading some program and apparently caused hours of additional work. I teach a class of grade 6/7 students and they work on computers more often than not. I love watching them navigate new programs like their Google Drive with little instruction at the beginning and notice how they organize themselves and solve problems. I usually wait until a few students have experienced the exact the same problem before I project my screen and ask the class- “who has run into this issue?” and then ask the class to offer solutions or I model how to ask google for a solution. I get excited when students realize that I, their teacher, am not necessarily the bearer of all solutions, they have the power to find solutions amongst themselves.

  2. Hi Stephanie,

    I enjoyed reading about your memorable print job, and you have focused on two questions which I also feel are important. There are many classes when, even with a Special Education Assistant working in the classroom with me to provide additional support, I cannot get around to all of the students who need help, let alone those students who would benefit from additional challenge. You gave a wonderful example of how your dad turned an accidental 100 page print job into a terrific learning experience, but it is true that we often do not have the opportunity to share those same types of teaching/learning moments with our students. I feel like many times, a 100 page print job during school time would turn into a “why did you do that?” rather than a “how can I help you learn?” question.

    I also think your question around discouraging students when we focus on the cost of supplies/efficient use of resources is important. As we know, today we are attempting to teach and prepare students for jobs and future technology that has not yet even been invented. At the same time, the school I work at has only one class set of iPads, one computer lab (enough computers to support one full class), and materials (including student work) printed from computers are often monitored (in fact no one, not even staff, is allowed to print in colour without approval from administration due to the cost of the cartridges). While students do get time each week to use digital technologies within the classroom/computer lab, staff does find it difficult to plan around each other’s schedules and we are all cognisant of not using “too much” computer/iPad time at the expense of colleagues and their classes. It creates a difficult balance between having adequate time and resources to incorporate digital technology meaningfully, and sharing relatively limited resources within a school.

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