Tuesday, March 29, 2011

White Boards and Page Protectors

In my last post I wrote about individual white boards on the cheap and what backgrounds to make.
Here are a few of my favorites, feel free to use these as you wish:

1) Algebra 1 - I did a lesson on Graphing Inequalities recently and the students used these in their page protectors.

2) Trigonometry - Filling in degrees and radians on the unit circle.

3) Trigonometry - Graphing Trig functions.

This post is a work in progress.  I will add more as create them.  Also, feel free to send us links to yours in the comments sections.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Individual White Boards

I LOVE individual white boards.  My students LOVE individual white boards.  But I find them to be expensive and limiting.  This past fall I attended my first NCTM Conference.  While walking through the vendor section, I found flimsy individual white boards and bought them up (30 of them for about $15).  One side was blank and the other side had the coordinate plane on it.  They work wonderfully, but I bought them with my own money.  Plus I bought the markers to go with it (about $10 for 30), which were dried out by the way, and I purchased wash cloths as erasers (about $10 for 30) all with my own money.
I didn't brainstorm this idea long enough.  As I walked around the vendors a little more, I noticed that a few had "boards" where the background could change as I wanted it to.  They are called SmartPals and you can see a picture of them below.

You can insert any background you want.  Perhaps I only want the students to graph in the first quadrant.  Or maybe I want them to fill in a table.  It's great when my students are graphing Trig equations because I can change the step on the axes.  So, this solved my problem on the limitations, but not the price.

There is also a brand called The Communicator Clearboard and you can see these below.  This one is different from the SmartPal in that it only has an opening at the top:

Recently, I was attending a co-teaching conference (more on that later) and at one point the presenter handed each group a disposable plastic plate and a dry erase marker.  Bingo!  The students could use these plates as individual white boards and that solved my financial problem.

But I still didn't have a way to solve BOTH of my problems at the same time.  Then it hit me - PAGE PROTECTORS!!  All I have to do is print out the background that I want and have the students insert them into a page protector and wha-la.  Individual white boards on the cheap and no limitations.

Okay, let's be real.  Let's talk about the drawbacks:
1) It's not easy to get those papers in the page protectors.  Some students will become frustrated.
2) They are flimsy.  The students will have to use 2 hands to hold them up so we can see it.  I suppose that I could insert a thin piece of cardboard to make it more sturdy, but that takes us back to problem #1.
3) I still need to purchase markers when they dry out and wash cloths (and wash them once in a while).

Now it's your turn:
1) What background would you create for these "white boards"?
2) Can you think of anymore drawbacks?
3) Have you tried this?  How did it go?

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Hi there!  My name is Nora and I teach high school mathematics.  This blog has been in existence for years, but only in my head.  The last thing I need is another thing to do.  However, I have a lot of ideas that I believe are worthwhile and want to share them with you.
One of the main reasons for creating this blog to to get your honest feedback.  Don't hold back please.  If you tried one of my ideas and it totally bombed, I want to know about it.  Perhaps we (me and the readers) can find a solution to make it work, or perhaps it should be scrapped entirely.  Likewise, if you try one of my ideas and it was a success, I would love to hear about that as well.  I'm always looking to pat myself on the back.
A little bit more about me.  I have been a classroom teacher since 2000.  I currently teach algebra 1 and pre-calculus.  However, my schedule changes every year.  In the past I have taught pre-algebra to 7th and 8th graders, Algebra II, and Calculus.  Did you notice what is missing?  Yeah, Geometry.  I have never been assigned to teach Geometry.  It is my goal to one year speak up and be assigned that course.
Anyway, I hope that you'll join me in the quest to be a better and more adventurous teacher.