I got the word from the administration this week that I used 4100 sheets of paper during the month of October. That seems like a lot to me too, until I divide it among 170 students. Then it works out to about 25 sheets per student during the course of a month, or about 1.2 sheets of paper per student per day.
We use papers to give students information sheets with material they need to know, either to supplement or replace the textbook. I passed out a four page reading on Manifest Destiny, for instance. We use paper for tests. My kids took an eight page test on the American Revolution. We print out graphic organizers for the student to fill in. And we use them for worksheets. We've heard a lot about worksheets lately, and some of them are pretty lame, but we spent our very limited money last year to find some that taught the many individual objectives we had to teach and also presented the information the same way that the CRTs (Criterion Referenced Tests that students must pass for the school to be listed as adequate under No Child Left Behind) do. There are many topics in History that lend themselves to some really fun activities-- "Taxation without Representation" and the Civil War. But we also have to teach Marbury v. Madison and Joseph Walker.
One wonders whether carpenters are told they use too many nails or doctors are told they use too much suture. My guess is that they are probably respected enough as professionals to know how much to use.