Transition desks and tables into collaboration tools

Photo of Caroline King
8 5

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I offer a simple change I am implementing this year. I have glossy white contact paper that one can use dry erase on and have put it on my tables and desks. This turns the desk into a collaboration tool. Students can take a picture of the work product and upload it to google classroom from their smart phone. Another step to go paperless. 

Upon testing I found laying contact paper on the desk caused it to wear out to quickly. So I amended the practice and created rolls trimmed with duct tape. As I need them I roll them out and then put them away again. This worked very well.

Implementing the change this week was quite successful. Students had both a long piece which I call mat and a shorted mat. They loved moving and manipulating their information as well having a microfiber cloth to wipe and correct errors. Feedback given in their weekly reflection on Fridays indicated they wished to collaborate using the mats often. One student indicated that they liked not having to present the working progress to the whole class until it was completed. 

I suggested student take pictures of their work and upload it to Google classroom. I saw two students still arguing who was the murderer the next day citing their images of the mats on their phones. Facilitating physical to digital collaboration  seemed to happen. 

Evaluation results

4 evaluations so far

1. Potential for Impact: Imagine this solution had near perfect implementation. To what extent would this solution bring about a culture of innovation within a school or classroom?

A lot! This solution would greatly bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 0%

Somewhat. This solution would somewhat bring about a culture of innovation in schools or classrooms. - 75%

Not much. This solution might help with other things, but I don't see it really bringing about a culture of innovation within schools or classrooms. - 25%

2. Feasibility and Fit: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: If this solution were available to me right now, I would be able to use it with relatively low investment. (i.e. money, time, or skills).

Strongly agree (this solution strongly aligns to my/my school's current capacities). - 50%

Agree. - 25%

Neutral. - 25%

Disagree. - 0%

Strongly disagree (this solution would take a big lift in resources to pull off). - 0%

3. Adaptability: I could imagine this solution working well in a variety of school and classroom contexts across a diverse set of needs.

Absolutely! I could see this working for a variety of schools and classrooms with different or unique needs. - 75%

Somewhat. I could see this working for many schools and classrooms, but it might need some adjusting to fit a broad diversity of contexts. - 25%

Not a lot. This seems like it might be better suited to only a few contexts. - 0%

4. Scalability: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: This idea could be adopted by an ever-growing number of teachers or students without requiring significant changes.

Strongly agree (this solution could easily scale without any significant changes). - 50%

Agree. - 50%

Neutral. - 0%

Disagree. - 0%

Strongly disagree (this solution would require significant changes in order to properly scale). - 0%

5. Desirability: Do you wish this solution were available to you right now?

1 - Not a lot. There's not a big need for this right now and/or we use something already that fulfills a similar purpose in my school or classroom. - 0%

2 - 0%

3 - 50%

4 - 50%

5 - A lot! There's nothing like this already and I'd love to have it in my school or classroom. - 0%

Attachments (1)

Untitled presentation.pptx



Join the conversation:

Photo of Caroline King

Activity and rolled collaboration mats worked especially well. Students took images of the mats and continued their arguments the next day. The students seem to move between collaboration physically and digitally easily.

Photo of Caroline King

Thanks. I am executing this Thursday and will upload lesson and images.

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph

Hi Caroline,

What a cool idea! I love the notion of always having a writing surface available to capture thoughts and ideas. I also love the intention of creating environments that foster collaboration. I wasn't sure from your post if this something you have tried before or if this coming school year will be your first time implementing it? If you have tried it, what has been the student feedback? Have you noticed an increase in collaboration/quality of student collaboration? Also, I'm wondering, for other teachers who might not have access to this glossy surface, what are some other ways we might create opportunities for collaboration by using the classroom environment/furniture? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

Photo of Caroline King

This is a current trial I am doing. My art teacher turned her cupboards into a whiteboard last year and so I thought this would be great on desks for collaboration. I wrangled tables from our defunct library ( we are rebuilding our school). I found on Amazon contact read-write contact paper. My students use it to detail evidence in my law class. One half the table develops evidence for the Plaintiff and one side for the Defendant. This week they were given a written text and had to draw the crime scene. I image using it in many creative ways. Photos and uploads to google classroom capture the work.

Photo of Elsa Fridman Randolph

Cool use ideas! How did the students enjoy being able to write/draw out the evidence and text? Are you collecting feedback? Would love to know how they are experiencing this.

This is a wonderful idea, it would be great if you could make it visual and flesh it out a bit to help the rest of the community see the potential for impact. Could you upload some pictures of the desks with writing on them (you should be able to use the Edit Contribution button on the top of your post and follow the instructions to add images from there)? Also, it would be very helpful if you could update your post a bit and tell us how this idea helps to create a culture of innovation. You could tell us a first person account or imagined story around the potential for impact of this idea and how it relates to creating a culture of innovation, or you could make a bullet point list, share student feedback, etc. Whatever format feels right to you, to help us better understand the potential for impact of this idea. Let me know if I can help.

Photo of Caroline King

I tried a few contact papers and there was smudging. My school covered the old chalk boards with contact paper many years ago. The more laminated they better.

Photo of Mary Ann Lafosse

I love this idea!!!
I would like to try it...Question: does it smudge when you erase?

Photo of Heather Best

Caroline, I love this idea and started to implement it last year in my classroom. Something to keep in mind is that many student desks are already wipe-off surfaces. My students used dry erase markers to write directly on their desk tops almost every day. We then took pictures of their products for display or assessment purposes.