Giving students and teachers the opportunity to visualize ideas and concepts is one proven way to improve achievement in the classroom. While many classrooms now have whiteboards as well as interactive whiteboards there are still a large number of schools that still have traditional blackboards that long for the opportunity to have a whiteboard that they can put colored markers to. Replacing blackboards with whiteboards can be extremely expensive for schools when you take into account the labor and the price of good quality whiteboards. But what if there was a cost effective way for classrooms to transform their blackboards into whiteboards? In fact, there is a cost effective way to accomplish this using IdeaPaint- an easy to use dry erase paint that can be applied to almost any surface. In fact some teachers have used IdeaPaint to paint the walls as well as the top of student's desks. I had learned about IdeaPaint several years ago but was excited to see how educators in New Jersey were using this product in the classroom. IdeaPaint has a number of great videos on their website demonstrating how teachers across the US are using IdeaPaint in the classroom to make learning more interactive and more visually appealing.
I had a chance to chat with Annika Levitt, First Grade Teacher at the Kiel School in Kinnelon, NJ who has been using IdeaPaint in the classroom to get her perspective on the product.
BSF: What's your overall view of IdeaPaint? It looks like a great product for the classroom!
AL: I can see as to why IdeaPaint would strike you as a great tool for the classroom...because it is!! Visually it is a wonderful outlet for kids to express their ideas and keep them motivated. For example, the difference of having them solve math problems on their desks vs. paper did wonders! As for the application, although I did not cover the desks and walls firsthand, I was there to watch the painters and it seemed like a pretty simple task. The desks were very easy to prep. As for the walls, like any paint job it took some prep work of sanding, but once the paint was ready to roll on it was an easy process. I did have the experience of using some touch up paint in a difficult area and that also very simple.
BSF: What difference do you see having access to the Ideapaint surfaces in your first grade classroom?
AL: Having access to IdeaPaint surfaces in the classroom opens up endless opportunities for learning. The ability to write on these surfaces caters to the needs of all different types of students, who exhibit multiple learning styles. For example, the child who learns through visual means, the child who needs kinesthetic learning can get up and write on his/her locker as opposed to being trapped at their seat. My classroom is the smallest room in the school and IdeaPaint allowed for us to utilize the most space. We can even write on an area of the floor! I also find children are not afraid, or shall I say less reluctant to get their ideas out. We use Teacher's College Writing Workshop and IdeaPaint is a fabulous tool for brainstorming, editing, and partner sharing. I found students in my classroom collaborated at a different level too through means of a dry erase marker! In an age where we reinforce "going green," IdeaPaint allowed for me to take pictures of students work, e-mail them or post them on my website for parent communication, giving them access to the fun classroom learning. Also, as a teacher I was able to post charts up for students to look back on past learning serving as reference tools. I also took pictures of kids' drawings, science conclusions, writing charts and saved them to my Smart Board to have on file.
BSF: You seem very excited by the potential of IdeaPaint-please share some final thoughts
AL: All in all, I cannot express enough how IdeaPaint has helped me as a teacher to not only make learning more fun, but to watch children interact and grow incorporating the tool. I am excited to kick off a new school year having students walk into the classroom with their names written in dry erase, allowing them to personalize their locker area, and having their parents write a letter to their child on Back-to-School Night right on their desks! I strongly recommend this product to educators at all different levels!
Watch Annika describe how she is using IdeaPaint in her classroom
IdeaPaint is a great product that opens up all kinds of learning opportunities for the classroom. If you have any questions about the product, please feel free to email me or leave a comment.