Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Most Used Item

In a previous post I mentioned using clear dry erase sleeves for an activity that I did.  The kids were given a list of words in the dry erase sleeve that they needed to sort out.  I gave them the words in the sleeves so they could cross out words as they went along and so that I didn't need to make a lot of copies of something that would just end up getting thrown away.

After writing about them and answering some questions about them I thought they deserved their own post.  I seriously love these things and use them pretty much every single day.  I have actually been using these since student teaching and keep coming up with new uses for them.  Over the summer they were sale a bit so I picked up 20 of my own.  Then I also have some more that belong to my school so I have a bunch of them, which is good because of how much I use them.

I love how sturdy they are and how the two sides of them are open so it's easy to put papers into them.  I also love the little blue cloths.  I have never found anything that erases dry erase so well.  I actually started using them to erase my big whiteboard instead of the regular erasers and it kept it so clean that I never had to wipe down the board.  This year I also use one to erase my blackboard and it cleans up all the dust perfectly.  When they get dirty, it's simple to just bring them home and toss them in the wash.

I know that sheet protectors can be used as well and I'm sure they work great, but with the frequency that I use my SmartPALs I wanted to spend a little more on something that is really durable and will last.

EAI Education's SmartPAL Jr. Classroom Kit

These are just some of the ways that I've used them:

When I do stations, I almost always use the dry erase sleeves.  It keeps kids from permanently writing on the table copy, and makes things feel a little more important than just a worksheet.  I can also color code the stations using the dry erase sleeves so it's easy to keep track of things or to differentiate.

Do Nows

This is one that I've started fairly recently.  I don't want things like Do Nows to go in the ISN because they are usually just a quick problem or two designed to check where the kids are that I don't need them to keep.  In the past I've just had them jot these down in their binder somewhere, never to be looked at again.  Instead I started having them do their do now on the dry erase boards everyday.

I keep these right by the door.  Inside each sleeve I keep a marker and eraser so they're easy to grab.  The kids take one on their way in and do the do now on the board.  As I walk around I check their answers and tell them they can erase when I see that it's correct.  It also lets me know when everyone has finished the do now.  As they leave at the end of the period, the kids just toss them all back in the bin.

Scrap Paper
Since they have them at their desks, some kids have started using the dry erase sleeves as scrap paper.  I'm not sure what it is about them, but they just seem to like doing work on them better.  Maybe because it's different, but I think they might like that the non-permanence of it.  If they make a mistake or something they can easily erase it and start over.

Teacher Scrap Paper
I find myself always walking around the room dry erase sleeve in hand.  When a kid has a question or needs help I'd prefer to write anything down on my own sleeve.  It lets me help them and not have to carry around scrap paper or have to write on their paper.  Occasionally I've used my iPad for the same thing, but this is much easier.

I feel like these were made for geometric transformations.  They really help kids to picture and work with translations, reflections, and rotations.

I love to use these for graphing.  It's so easy to pop in a graph or number line to do work on.  When we are graphing things, often I'll have them do their problems on here so it saves the time of creating a new graph on graph paper for each problem.  I keep sets of these paper templates in file folders so that I can just pull out whatever graph or number line I need for the day.

Anyone have more ideas to add to the list?  I'd love to hear what other people are doing.  :)


  1. I love your idea for using them for do nows! I'm going to try that! I have my kids put practice worksheets in them and work on them with a partner. Not the most creative thing, but they love doing it because they get to use markers instead of pencil.

    1. Isn't it amazing how a dry erase marker makes things so much more exciting?

  2. These are great! I use sheet protectors often, especially for worksheets, and the kids are loving the new mini dry erase boards ( I finally got a full class set and started using them regularly this year) what is the brand name and where are they sold? I don't think I've seen anything quite like these in Canada. I love that they open on two sides - I often get kids to help me put sheets in protectors, and surprisingly few of them can manage the task.


    1. There is actually a link to them under the first picture :)

  3. I love the dry erase sleeves too. I leave them on the desks all the time. Like you, I want them to use them as scrap paper. They really do for some reason do a lot more work when they have those!

    1. Yep, you gotta love how easy it is to trick them into thinking something is more exciting than it really is sometimes :)

  4. I absolutely love these sleeves!!! I just ordered 3 sets of 10 for my classroom (they were on sale). I use dry erase boards a lot in my high school geometry classroom but I can't wait to use these. Last year I began incorporating stations using acrylic frames. I like this idea so much better because can actually write on the pictures and then erase when they are done.

  5. Sarah,

    I do a lot of station reviews, and like you said these would be perfect for keeping them from writing on the sheets. There are a million possibilities-quick formative assessments, do nows, questions, comments....the list is literally endless. I must find and purchase these immediately. Do you find that they hold up well? I am so excited for them! P.S.-Your blog is amazing, I just had to follow it for inspiration. Thanks!

  6. So I let my kids use whiteboard markers on their desks and they (and I) love it! clorox wipes take off everything and they can mark and erase with a regular whiteboard eraser (or their hands). Its great because they have been fooled into participating. They do warm ups and examples on their desks. Then they can copy anything cleanly into their ISNs. Its fantastic!!!


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