Wednesday, December 3, 2014

LARGE Whiteboards: GET 'EM!

This post is simply a way for me to quickly document/share a few ideas on large whiteboards.

I went to Home Depot and did the following:
  • Found the large whiteboard sheets: 
  • Had someone make two cuts:
  • I get one large whiteboard and two smaller boards:
  • Took home and sanded the corners to get rounded edges:

My classroom desks are in groups of three or four, depending on my furniture, space and mood. Besides using these boards for 3-Act Tasks, here are my favorite everyday activities:
  • Placemat:
Students are given a question to work on. Each student carves out a section on their whiteboard to solve on their own first. As you can see, there's an open space in the middle.
Once students are done with their individual work, they discuss what their group answer should be and write it in the middle section. This really allows students to compare their work with their peers and give each other support, especially for those who might be stuck or need a nudge. Great everyday use and for review activities like Race Car Math. 
  • Brain Dump
Brain dump: Project something and have the students write down everything they know about it in their section. Then they compare and contrast as a group before sharing whole group. You could also do a Notice/Wonder (a la The Math Forum).

Put the timer on and ask students to write as many ways as possible to get to -100 or whatever you fancy. GO!

The Home Depot boards can be a little weighty. If you have the budget, I’d recommend you first look into the large whiteboards from They weigh less, have a slightly better writing surface, have rounded corners, and have a carrying handle for kids to easily carry around the classroom. You can get a set of 10 for a little over $100. Top-notch whiteboards. 

I use cut-up dark t-shirts and socks as erasers. There are plenty more things you can do with whiteboards and I've documented some of them in a few blog posts. Probably the best investment I've made as a teacher. At teacher trainings, workshops, and conferences, I'm practically begging teachers to get these whiteboards in their classrooms.  

Now, I have a blog post in which teachers can refer to. But, here are more awesome additional uses of whiteboards. Nathan Kraft outfitted his entire room with whiteboards, inspired by Alex Overwijk. Don't miss Frank Noschese pioneering all this whiteboard magic. You can see Fawn Nguyen using these on a regular basis too.
Huge style points for them all!



  1. I'm a huge whiteboard advocate too! I haven't made the jump to large boards yet....I bought mine a few years ago from . They're a bit pricey, but I love the grid for graphing! They come with pretty cool erasers too.

  2. These whiteboard ideas are awesome, thank you! Lately I have been playing around with different ways of structuring tasks so that kids have plenty of their own personal think/work time while also getting to work collaboratively and share ideas with each other. I've found it challenging to do this in a way that doesn't feel overly structured. Recently I've been having kids problem solve by writing directly on the classroom floor with whiteboard markers (this seems to serve the same purpose as your whiteboards) but if I'm ever at a school without dry-eraseable floors I will use your home depot idea!

    1. Sounds like a plan. I've tried students writing with dry erase on certain desks. Wish that worked better.

    2. Andrew,
      Thanks for gathering all these ideas in one place. Can't wait to try them out. I recently was able to secure a big 4' x 8' whiteboard that was lying unused at our high school and have it mounted in the back of one of our fifth grade classrooms. Makes me wonder if there are more of them around...

    3. Can't wait to read how you use the whiteboards with your students!

  3. Andrew
    I just purchased a set of individual size whiteboards for one of the teachers in my department. A different teacher requested individual skateboards instead - she expressed concern about the ecological impact of whiteboard markers and erasability issues. What markers can you recommend to offset those problems? I ordered both boards from

    1. Sorry, I don't have any recommendations. I'll admit, it's really difficult for me to weigh in on this question and avoid sounding insensitive to the environment.

      I've acknowledged the ecological impact whiteboards markers might have (plastic, chemicals, etc.), but the potential of the impact on student learning quickly suppresses any environmental impact thoughts. Whiteboard markers are a must. I use a refillable water bottle. Does that help counter my plastic consumption?

      Tell ya what, encourage the teacher to do a (performance?) task with their students comparing whiteboard markers to other alternatives and their impact(s). I'd love to see what would come of this. If the teacher is passionate about the environmental impact of whiteboard markers, investigate and explore it with your students so they see us pursue our passions/interests. Chances are great there's some wonderful math involved along the way.

      Please report back!

    2. I recently purchased a class set of AusPen reusable whiteboard markers for my students from No xylene to worry about, or throw away plastic. Pens are aluminum tubes and are very easy to refill and change out the chisel nibs to bring them right back to good as new. Highly recommend!

    3. Hi J.T.,

      Thanks for sharing the tip on the markers.

  4. Awesome idea! Just busted them out today, to great effect!

  5. I love me the hell out of some whiteboards and I have several dozen in my class. The problem is having enough markers...

    Any tips on getting thousands of markers at cheap prices?

    1. Hmmmm. I don't have much, but J.T. posted this link above.

      I would sometimes get the little markers from Summit or Nasco. Last year, many of my students bought markers at the $1 store nearby. As an incentive, if they had their own marker, they could earn something from my PBIS store.

  6. I was reading some of your content on this website and I conceive this internet site is really informative ! Keep on putting up. Large A Board