Using the Power of Dry Erase Painted Walls for Teaching Math

Finding ways to increase student engagement is an endless pursuit among teachers at all grade levels, but one option can be a handy and extremely powerful tool in this effort: a top-quality dry erase painted wall. Unlike traditional whiteboards, which have small surface areas and tend to stain and turn gray over time, dry erase walls offer vast stain-resistant surfaces on which to get students excited about their school work. They also provide low-tech teaching alternatives that eliminate the need to open apps and power up potentially troublesome electronic devices like interactive whiteboards for lessons.

Countless K–12 teachers, school systems, colleges, and universities around the world are embracing no-nonsense, versatile dry erase walls because of their practicality, durability, and ease of use. Dry erase walls offer teachers a fast, convenient way to seize on teachable moments, hold a class’s attention, and keep students of any grade level engaged in their school work. The walls are potent instructional tools that promote interactivity and collaborative learning. When used creatively, they generate an endless array of learning opportunities.

### Solving Problems on Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces Keeps Children on Task

When students stand in small groups at a vertical non-permanent surface (VNS) such as a dry erase wall and work together on math problems, it keeps them animated and involved. Using VNSs to solve problems and do other math-related tasks can help build strong math skills in the following ways:

By promoting engagement

By making learning clearly visible to students

By supporting student-to-student collaboration in solving problems

By offering struggling learners the chance to see math strategies in use

By giving students the opportunity to apply careful risk-taking strategies

By allowing for teacher observation, that enhances instruction.

The power of the VNS approach to teaching math is affirmed by professor of mathematics education Peter Liljedahl in his paper “Building Thinking Classrooms.”

A recent study by Dr. Liljedahl revealed that students who did math-related tasks while standing at vertical non-permanent surfaces like dry erase walls showed significant improvement in certain learning traits compared to students who worked on permanent surfaces like flip chart paper or notebooks. Specifically, the learners’ levels of eagerness, discussion, participation, persistence, mobility, and non-linearity were all enhanced when they used VNSs, especially while standing up.

### The Freedom Allowed by Dry Erase Walls Aids in Problem Solving

This result may have been obtained because when students use paper to do math problems, even with a non-permanent writing tool like a pencil, the psychological effect is a feeling that what they’re writing is permanent. This can make the students believe they should be able to find a direct path to the answer without doing any strategizing or brainstorming on the page. However, when students write on a non-permanent surface like a dry erase wall, they know their work will be erased at the end of class. This knowledge creates a feeling of detachment and freedom; it’s as though the wall’s non-permanent surface allows them to work on math problems much more freely and a bit more messily, which in turn creates a deeper engagement in the problem-solving process. Thus, if you view your classroom environment as your “assistant teacher,” the vertical, non-permanent surface of your classroom dry erase wall becomes a liberating extension of students’ teaching and learning experience. The wall frees up students’ minds and offers immediate vertical learning opportunities, such as creatively solving math equations or plotting out points on a graph and connecting the dots to form shapes.

### Dry Erase Walls Are Perfect for Drawing Graphs and Forming Shapes and Messages

To help develop students’ skills in coordinate plotting and locating data on graphs, you can first project several images of empty graph grids onto your dry erase wall with a video or slide projector. Then divide the class into small groups, give the students four series of points, and ask them to plot the points on the graph and connect the dots. Doing so will reveal four different shapes on the graph. You can vary the number of points in each series, with more significant numbers of points generating more complex shapes. For an added challenge, use larger-sized grids and don’t include the grid lines. For students who haven’t yet learned about negative numbers, you can specify the use of only positive numbers (the graph’s upper right-hand quadrant).

Another option is to do a “secret message graphing” exercise where you supply the students with several series of points that spell out messages like “I love math” or “Our math teacher is great” when plotted on a graph. This exercise can lighten up the atmosphere and make learning about graphs and coordinates more fun.

### Dry Erase Walls Are Perfect for Teaching Formulas and Other Math-related Topics

Dry erase painted walls are highly effective visual aids for teaching mathematics and can become indispensable tools in the hands of creative math teachers. In fact, it may be safe to say that math can’t be taught effectively without the use of a vertical non-permanent surface such as a dry erase painted wall. In addition, the use of colored low-odor dry erase markers can make the work done on dry erase walls more appealing and attractive to students.

Some key teaching activities for which a math teacher can use a premium dry erase painted wall are as follows:

Drawing and illustrating how to form geometrical figures

Presenting the steps involved in solving a problem or proving a theorem

Demonstrating the drawing of graphs and charts

Writing down the important points of a lesson to retain students’ attention

Interrelating various mathematical concepts and principles

Writing down problems for homework assignments and classroom drills

Summarizing the day’s lesson.

In this way, a dry erase wall can become an integral part of teaching and learning in the mathematics classroom.

### Hints on Effective Use of Dry Erase Walls in Math Instruction

It’s essential to practice the following routines to get the most out of your dry erase painted wall for teaching math.

The writing on the wall should be as large and straight as possible so that it’s visible to the entire class.

To improve retention, key concepts may be highlighted with colored low-odor dry erase markers by underlining or by enclosing them in boxes.

All mathematical figures presented to the class must be correct and in proportion to the measurements used.

While writing on the wall, keep talking to the students to hold their attention throughout a class period.

Encourage class participation and engagement by having students regularly do problems or other math activities on the wall.

Always take ample care to make sure that the calculations or other contents on the wall are accurate and appropriate to a given lesson.

### Have Students Participate in Math Quiz Games

Another way to boost student engagement in math class is to use your premium dry erase painted wall for playing math quiz games. Due to their large, inviting surfaces and inherently entertaining quality, dry erase walls keep students excited about learning math, especially when they can engage in quiz games. One such game is the classic pastime of hangman with a mathematical twist. You can have the kids play hangman using math terms such as the names of parts of equations, the various areas of study in mathematics, the names of geometrical shapes, the terms used in addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and so on. Regularly participating in these types of mental challenges can make the subject of math less challenging for students, especially those who may be struggling with the subject.