Tips for Maintaining an Organized Dry Erase Wall in Teaching
Premium dry erase painted walls are excellent instructional tools for teachers at all grade levels from kindergarten to high school and beyond, as they offer virtually unlimited space for presenting facts and explaining ideas in writing as an adjunct to what’s said in class. However, as a teacher, it’s essential to have a clear picture of an organizational structure for how you’re going to use all of the writing and drawing space the walls provide. If you use the vast surface of a dry erase wall randomly and write or draw lesson content in different areas every day, students can become confused, and you can end up negating the usefulness of your dry erase wall as a powerful teaching tool.
That being said, the following are some practical tips on how teachers can organize their dry erase walls to gain the maximum instructional value.
Design and Create a Layout for the Wall that You Will Use for Each Lesson
The way you organize your daily lessons on a top-quality dry erase painted wall can make a big difference in the effectiveness of your teaching and in how much of your lesson material students retain every day. To present lesson plans on your dry erase wall more powerfully, it’s important to include lesson goals or objectives as one step to take. As each goal is reached during a lesson, put a checkmark next to that goal so that your class knows they’re succeeding, and you know the class understands the material. Another tip is to use different-colored markers, but make sure to be consistent in using specific colors for specific purposes and subjects.
One way that you can organize your dry erase wall is by taking the following steps. Numbers 10-13, as well as some of the other comments below, are geared for language arts classes, but you can adapt these suggestions for use with other subjects as well.
1. Choose a space on the wall that you plan to use for your daily lessons.
2. Designate areas in the four corners of that space for writing different topic headings. [The headings are presented below.]
3. Designate the section in the middle of the space as your “Working Area.”
[This area is used during a lesson to write content being covered in real-time throughout a class.]
4. In the upper left-hand corner of your space, write “Objectives.”
5. List the objectives for a given day’s lesson under this heading.
[These objectives will be checked off after each one is accomplished.]
6. In the lower left-hand corner of your space, write “Homework.”
[List the day’s homework assignments under this heading.]
[These items will be checked off once the homework is corrected the following day.]
7. In the upper right-hand corner of the space, write “Vocabulary.”
[Under this heading, list all new vocabulary words that come up during the lesson.]
8. In the lower right-hand corner of the space, write “Grammar.”
[Under this heading, write down key grammar points that come up in the lesson.]
Using this organizational approach will help your students remember what material they learned during a lesson and what key elements need to be retained for use on future tests and quizzes. Listing the significant points taught during the lesson on your dry erase wall also gives students ready access to the material in case they have questions during class or after the lesson is over.
The information listed in the Objectives, Homework, Vocabulary, and Grammar areas of the space should remain on your dry erase wall throughout the day’s lesson. But the content written in the Working Area will be erased and replaced continuously as the lesson progresses and new points are presented and discussed.
Organize the Working Area of Your Daily Lesson Space as Well
Besides having key material listed in the Objectives, Homework, Vocabulary, and Grammar areas of your Lesson Space, it’s also essential to organize the Working Area in the middle. For example, for a language arts class, you can put items like the parts of a sentence into columns and rows. In this case, the columns would include the headings “Subject,” “Verb,” “Object,” etc., and the rows would consist of sample sentences with the words from the sentences placed under the proper headings for the parts of speech involved.
Use Different-colored Dry Erase Markers to Color Code Various Teaching Points
Numerous studies have shown a substantial link between color coding and memory, and much evidence has been presented to show that color coding can help students home in on essential ideas and information presented in the classroom. The creative use of this strategy can aid classes in terms of knowledge retention, knowledge transfer, and differentiation among various facts and ideas.
So how does a teacher go about developing a well-designed color-coding strategy that will help students learn and grow academically? Let’s examine some steps to take in color-coding with your dry erase wall and elsewhere that will make the school year a colorful success for both students and teacher alike.
Color Coding Subjects and Schedules Saves Time
Designating the use of a single color of dry erase marker ink for each subject taught throughout the day can help your class save time when it comes to making transitions in the daily schedule. For instance, if you assign the color red to English, language arts, and reading (ELAR), and you pull out your red markers when the time comes to switch from math to ELAR, the students will know they should grab their red ELAR folders, and they won’t need to wonder what’s next in the schedule.
Of course, color coding can be taken further, for example, by creating a calendar that’s color-coded to divide the day by subject (and color), along with using color coding in students’ lesson planners and folders to connect specific colors with specific subjects.
Using Color Coding for Phonics and Grammar Instruction
During phonics lessons, you may find that using a different colored marker to write various digraphs or graphemes will help your students more easily identify and remember these items. For example, writing the digraph, the class is focusing on at the moment with a red marker, and other letters with a black marker make it easier for the students to notice the two letters that are combined to make that specific phoneme.
Another example of how color can be used for phonics instruction is to use markers of different colors like black, blue, green, and red to demonstrate the different ways to spell a given English sound. For instance, the sound [f] may be spelled , , , , and , and markers of different colors can be used to demonstrate these diverse spellings.
After Class Erase All Lesson Contents and Notes When no Longer Needed
There are obviously many benefits to integrating dry erase painted walls into your daily lessons. And maintaining an organized space for conducting the lessons is a key component in using your wall effectively. However, it’s also important to remember to erase all content from a given lesson with a microfiber cloth when it’s no longer needed for the lesson or for the noting of homework assignments by students.
Regularly erasing your wall after lessons will help to avoid unnecessary confusion among your students because if remnants of the previous lesson are left on the wall, it can create what’s known as “visual dissonance” in the class members. In this state, students experience psychological tension caused by a disparity between what they expect to see (the new layout for the current lesson) and what they actually see (leftover content from the previous lesson).
An essential part of keeping students motivated and engaged in their school work is reducing such dissonance because people don’t usually choose to live in a state of mental tension. In psychological terms, such a state is considered aversive, to be avoided or to be resolved. So, to help keep your students from experiencing tension in the classroom beyond what they’re already feeling from their school work, remember to erase your dry erase wall regularly after each lesson.