Learning Environments

2 Quick, Inexpensive Ways to Add Collaborative Space to Your Classroom

April 30, 2015

In this era of tight school budgets and limited district resources, the simplest, easiest and cheapest improvements naturally rise to the top of the list. I wanted to share two that have made a big difference in my classroom - our "Whiteboard Wall" and my Z-Rack - in the hopes others might want to try them too.

Our whiteboard wall is literally just that - a giant wall painted floor to ceiling with 'whiteboard' paint, in this case, "IdeaPaint":

A wall covered in idea paint
Close up of idea paint on wall
Children using wall covered in idea paint

(Note: I have heard Draw It Paint is also good.)

I'll be the first to admit that geting this stuff on the wall properly was a real challenge - it sets up quickly and you have to move very fast - and it works best in my experience with a very smooth surface. But, when it's done, you have a natural collaboration space that is flexible, easy to maintain, and looks great too. You can get a kit to do 50 square feet or larger quantities to do bigger spaces. Don't have a wall? You can paint your desks, closets, doors, you name it - and they instantly become colloaborative work spaces.

A Z-Rack

My Z-Rack is an idea I came across in Make Space, the fantastic book on learning spaces by the Stanford d.School. Here's the PDF you need - direct from the book.

I found the base garment rack on eBay for about $65, bought the materials I needed including some ordinary "shower board" at a home goods big box store for less than half that, and in a few hours I had a cool, portable, two-sided whiteboard.

These two items have made a huge difference in my classroom. They are student-centered, inexpensive and effective.

What enhancements would you like to make part of your classroom?

This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we’ve preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.

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