At Macworld this year, I was lucky enough to see friend and colleague Robert Pronovost share how he uses Idea Paint to create Whiteboard Desks in his classroom. I felt Robert’s technique could be very useful during the “Apply” phase of the “Explore-Explain (Flip)-Apply” learning cycle. During this phase, students are quickly working through various problems and sharing strategies with one another, while I constantly circulate assisting and challenging students. Students who have demonstrated “mastery” are also circulating assisting their peers.
Having a large surface on their desk to perform and create problems seemed like a perfect way to check for understanding and empower students to demonstrate critical thinking. Moreover, using their camera phone/video camera, groups could easily “hover” above the desk and record quick tutorials, bypassing the need for screencasting and tablet technology, iPads, etc. Despite the obvious benefits, my administration did not approve the painting of our classroom desk tops.
In search of a cheaper and less-permanent substitute, I stumbled across Self Adhesive Dry Erase Material. It is working like a charm! I purchased a few rolls, and measured out sheets that stick to the top of our classroom desks. The sheets can be removed at the end of the school-year, and for now, appear to work as well, or better than, a traditional whiteboard. See below for a video of a student in my AP Chemistry class working through a problem “on her desk” at the conclusion of a learning cycle on atomic structure: