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?

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