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.