Inexpensive & Versatile Whiteboards

graphs on file folders

As a classroom teacher, learning was always most important and time often was the enemy.  Passing things out and gathering them back at the end of class was too time-consuming, even if it only takes a couple of minutes.  It was nice having/using personal whiteboards but they took precious time getting them out/back and often wore out.  There was limited space – often one-sided and even if they double-sided, there might only be one or two types of graphs.  I needed a solution.  I thought of these before personal whiteboards were available, before TI navigators and ipad apps were around.  So, why with all the technology available would I share this idea?  I share it because it is portable, cheap, doesn’t require technology or any power source, and there is no need to keep track or store them.  They are great for indoor and outdoor activities and don’t need to be charged up or updated!  You can always make a second folder with even more graphs if you use them enough.

What I did

Collect enough file folders, one per student.  Choose graphs for each file folder.  As you can see, on the picture, I chose a coordinate grid, a number line, cm squares, isometric dot paper, quadrant 1 graph, and a trig graph with radian measure and glued them on the sides of folders.  Write each student’s name on a folder – remember to do this BEFORE you laminate them or students will need to use a permanent marker for their names.  Next, laminate each folder to make them an instant whiteboard.  Punch each folder with a three-hole punch, hand them out to students and then they can get them out when you’re ready to use them in class.  (Don’t try and punch more than one folder at a time.) In a pencil bag, students keep a dry-erase marker and a “eraser”.  Or, attach a piece of velcro to the folder and on the pen/eraser to help students keep everything together. Erasers can be clean old cotton socks (maker can be store them also) – easy to collect because you know the washer always “eats” one or two, leaving strays!  No more handing out whiteboards, erasers, or pens!  It takes a little time up front to prepare the folders and the expenses include the file folders, copies and laminating.  However, they last a school year and so I consider it a good investments of time and money.

Another inexpensive option

Another option is to use clear page protectors (heavy duty is the best choice) and by putting different graphs inside, the surface is very versatile.  These are especially useful for those once-in-a-while graphs, student-made graphs to be shared, or graphs where color is important.  A good activity where page protectors makes more sense is Protractor Golf.  Dry erase markers work on the clear page protectors.  They are not too expensive and they are also easy for students to store in their binders – no handing out or collecting at the end of class.

Not into a make-it-yourself option or have grant money to spend?

If you want sturdier versions of  the page savers with more bells and whistles, try ETA’s ClearVu Paper Savers or other commercial products – there are several on the market.  In addition, there are many companies like the Markerboard People that sell personal whiteboard sets.  If you decide to purchase the commercial products, call companies and ask to see if you can get a sample and try them out first.


About napmath

I recently retired from full-time teaching. I taught students in High School math classes from Basic Math through AP Calculus. I have been into integrating technology into my classes since 1981. I am Nationally Board Certified, am the proud recipient of a Presidential Award of Excellence in Math Teaching, text book author, Golden Apple Scholar, Certified SMART Board Trainer, Regional Technology Teacher of the Year, and give workshops across the country - geometry, Common Core, mathematics, Interactive Whiteboards, and technology. I am currently working as an adjunct faculty member at Illinois Wesleyan University and authoring books for SMART Boards and Promethean Boards with Vision Technology.
This entry was posted in Algebra, Common Core, Geometry, Math Education, Math Modeling, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Inexpensive & Versatile Whiteboards

  1. napmath says:

    Here are some good ideas when using dry erase markers in the classroom.
    If students are using a dry erase marker at their desks, are you looking for erasers?
    1) glue a pom pom on the top for an eraser.
    2) purchase cosmetic sponges at the dollar store.
    3) use clean “old” socks – store the marker in it when not in use.
    Missing the markers?
    1) Velcro them to the folders, whiteboards or desks.
    2) If desks are metal, use magnet tape on the markers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s