How I Use Idea Paint in my Learning Laboratory

by mrsapia

Updated: June 1st, 2015.  

In my ever present chase to push the limits of what’s possible in the classroom(please read my learning commons post), I decided to paint most of my desks white using Idea Paint.  I was fortunate enough to receive a grant from our amazing PTO at my school, so because of this, the paint was bought for me. I applaud their efforts to support re-imagining what a 21st century classroom can look like.

How Will I Use the Idea Paint:

I teach a Humanities course, which falls under the academic subjects of Social Studies and English Language Arts.  My immediate thought was to use it a place where students can;

  • write down vocabulary words and use them in a sentence in context
  • making predictions/inferences about characters, plot lines, etc
  • write down character traits from independent reading and read aloud books
  • work collaboratively as a table to answer essential questions of lessons
  • share work by participating in a “gallery walk”
  • use as formative assessment tool to quickly check for understanding
  • exit slips to check for understanding after a lesson
  • have students write written response to text – After response is written, they can upload to Evernote to place in their digital portfolio (goal for next year)
  • take a photo of their work, individually or collaboratively, and use Airserver to mirror to IWB
  • fun and engaging way for students to learn
  • draw their visualizations
  • creating timelines of historical events
  • fosters creativity
  • brainstorm for writing
  • paperless and saves trees 🙂
  • note taking


   As you can see, these are just a few ideas of what’s possible.  Of course, some ideas will work better than others.   I am sure, based on feedback from students, there will be many new ways to use Idea Paint in the classroom.  I am a proponent of student voice, so their feedback is invaluable for me.  Rest assured, when the Idea Paint is used, just like purposeful technology integration, it will be used to enhance the student’s learning. Please let me know what creative ways you use Idea Paint in your classroom!

I am a passionate teacher in Stamford, CT. I teach fifth grade ELA/Social Studies. I am proud to be an active member of the Twitter educational community. I am an organizer for #EdCampSWCT, a moderator for #ctedu, technology professional develop leader in my district, and a believer in a high tech/high touch blended learning approach to teaching.  I am nominated for the Bammy of 2015 Elementary School Teacher of the Year. I am a certified administrator. I believe in taking risks and working collaboratively to augment student achievement. I love children’s literature and strive to become better everyday. I am a husband and father. Follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach

NOTE: This original post from 2014.  It’s my old classroom.

I first heard about Idea Paint from a couple of teachers in my professional learning network.  Idea paint can transform many surfaces into a dry erase surface.  Simple premise, with an enormous amount of potential to revolutionize how students can work collaboratively in a classroom.

I moved forward with my vision and created a Donor’s Choose project.  Before I knew it, I was fully funded by the generous donations from parents in my classroom, as well as other parents of students who attend my school via a post on our PTO Facebook page.  In addition to the Donor’s Choose donation, another parent from my building caught wind of this project and donated an addtional can of Idea Paint! Score!!

How Will I Use Idea Paint?

As I stated above, I am looking to augment how scholars work collaboratively in my classroom.  Looking around my classroom, I realized that there was so much valuable space in my room that was under utilized.  This is our time to think outside the box of what a traditional classroom can look like.  Check out the photos below for before and after examples of my classroom.





Throughout my years of teaching, I’ve learned an unbelievable amount of information about how to run a classroom.  The list can go on and on.  One of the most important lessons I’ve learned was to talk less and allow scholars to work collaboratively in a purposeful, concise manner.  The impact of such a collaborative classroom has impacted my scholars because I have more time to work with groups and individuals to meet their specific needs, leading to greater academic success.

My scholars are changing by using this model because, as I stated above, scholars learn by doing, not just by listening. I have started to use this model with math, because I use a centers based approach, so scholars can learn and help each other because of the increased collaboration and flexibility of the model. Scholars collaborate with different types of learners, which will benefit them as they proceed through their educational career and into the workforce.

I am also using Idea Paint during Reader’s Workshop and small group instruction.  After modeling a specific skill that day, scholars are asked to demonstrate that skill during the work period.  If the lesson calls for group work, Idea Paint is the way to go.  I can easily monitor scholar’s progress, while working in small groups, because of the size of the surface.  I can provide easy redirection to get scholars back on track, if needed.  I can then snap a photo and upload it into their digital portfolios using Evernote for future reference, when I remember.

Here are a couple “Vine” videos Demonstrating the use of Idea Paint.

Solving Multi-Step Word Problems

Identifying Author’s Point of View

While this is only my second week of full implementation, my scholars and I feel really enthusiastic about its potential.  My hope is that with the second can, I will be able to paint many desks in my classroom, with administrative permission of course!

As a proponent of student voice, I have heard and listened to my scholar’s feedback about how to best use Idea Paint.  I look forward to continuing to look for creative ways to use Idea Paint in my classroom.  If you have any feedback or suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

If you’d made it this far, feel free to follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach