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":
(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.
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?
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