Teachers, look! Cheaper, fun way to get giant whiteboards

June 30, 2011

It’s a great idea, but I didn’t even dare think it possible

We’ve had blackboard paint for at least a century.  Teachers at our school sometimes paint their closet doors, or part of a wall, to use as a chalkboard.

I prefer whiteboards, though.

Watching Neil deGrasse Tyson on Nova:  Science Now, I caught a reference to a researcher whose lab walls are all painted with “dry-erase” paint.  (The NOVA piece is the episode on how the brain works; this segment deals with researcher David Eagleman.)

Is that even possible?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Quick answer: Yes!

Check out applications ideas at IdeaPaint’s blog.

Lowe’s carries IdeaPaint, the stuff displayed in the graphic above.  It isn’t as cheap as other paint, but compared to the cost of a whiteboard, it’s pretty good.  RustOleum manufactures a version available at Home Depot and other outlets.  It’s advertised as cheap as $20 per kit online, but runs as high as $40.  One kit covers about 49 square feet (7 feet by 7 feet).  I’ve found at least five different manufacturers of the stuff, with different features.

I haven’t calculated prices (at about $3.25/square foot), but there are also dry-erase skins which can be applied to any wall — with the added advantage that the product claims to be erasable for virtually any marker, including Sharpies® and other permanent markers.   One manufacturer offers skins in clear, to allow underlying paint colors to show through, and white, and says it will match colors on a whole-roll basis (pricey, I’ll wager).

Uses for math and writing should be obvious — think about those mural-sized wall maps in a geography or history class, covered with clear, dry-erase paint . . .

Wouldn’t it be great if school districts had architects, or instruction coaches, who knew about this stuff and could help us keep up in the technology and tool wars/sweepstakes?

More, resources:  

  • Dry-erase painting at Charlestown (state? Massachusetts?) schools:
  • Case study from Milford High, Milford, Massachusetts
  • Case study, Dever-McCormack School, Boston school district
  • Evernote software teams with IdeaPaint . . . look at the video

Are we mice, or fully-functioning human brains?

September 21, 2010

I’m still smiling about Ed Brayton’s post at Dispatches from the Culture Wars — here in its entirety:

From the utterly delusional Christine O’Donnell [Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Delaware], said on the Bill O’Reilly show in 2007:

“They are — they are doing that here in the United States. American scientific companies are cross-breeding humans and animals and coming up with mice with fully functioning human brains.”

Which gives those hypothetical mice a sizable leg up on O’Donnell.


Even babies chunk data

July 21, 2008

How do you apply this information in your lesson plans?

Even babies chunk data for memorization. That is, even babies find it easier to remember things if the new items include chunks of already familiar information.

Not Exactly Rocket Science discusses new research that shows infants as young as 14 months use this memorization trick.

Which of these strings of letters is easier to remember: QKJITJGPI or BBCITVCNN?

Chances are, you chose the latter string, where the nine letters are the combined names of three television networks. This neatly illustrates a fundamental property of human memory – that we remember long strings of information more easily if we can break them down into bite-sized chunks. In this case, a nine-letter string can be divided into three lots of three letters. You probably use similar strategies for remembering telephone numbers, credit card details, or post codes.

Now, Lisa Feigenson and Justin Halberda from Johns Hopkins University have found that infants just 14 months old can use the same technique, delightfully known as “chunking” to increase the limited scope of their memories. Their work suggests that this technique isn’t something we learn through education or experience – it’s more likely to be a basic part of the way our minds process information.

Much more, here.


Jill Bolte Taylor in the NY Times

June 2, 2008

Jill Bolte Taylor’s inspiring story of stroke and recovery in a brain function specialist got a nice treatment in the New York Times a week ago:  “A superhighway to bliss.


World’s best graphs

May 14, 2008

I miss Headrush.  Here’s why — and if there’s not a graph or other good idea here you can steal, you’re not thinking.  Get another couple of cups of coffee.


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