Whiteboarding Resources

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Where can I get whiteboards?

Basic information on making & purchasing whiteboards.

Making Whiteboards:

Advantages include

  • This is an inexpensive alternative to going to a supplier, potentially entirely free
  • You may be able to get a local lumber store to donate the boards; especially if you tell them you'll take damaged panels
  • You may be able to get your local lumber store to cut the boards for you
  • You make them whatever size you want.
  • You can include a handle hole wherever you want and how big you want.
  • You can include a small hole for a marker/eraser tie if you like.

Disadvantages include

  • They take time to make (edges should be sanded and corners should be rounded).
  • It may take some expertise to cut them the way you want them.
  • Do yourself a favor and wear a mask and/or set up a shop vac!

Options of boards at a local lumber store would likely include

  • Dry Erase board
    • Comes in 32" x 48"
    • Most expensive (~$6 for 32" x 48" panel)
  • Frostywhite
    • Midrange price (~$14 for 48" x 96" panel)
  • Thrifywhite
    • Least expensive (~$12 for 48" x 96" panel)
  • Whichever you choose make sure it is marlite, equivalent or superior.  Do not get the thin vinyl shower enclosure material.

Purchasing Ready-Made Whiteboards

Advantages include

  • No hassle: purchase what you want and you don't have to spend time making cuts or sanding
  • It's now a competitive market, prices are getting pretty reasonable
  • Because of the market, many suppliers have added features like diagrams, graphing grids, two-sided boards, etc.

Disadvantages include

  • Can get pricey

Suppliers (this is by no means a comprehensive list, but it should be enough to get you started looking)

"The Makerboard People at http://www.dryerase.com/ seem to have excellent prices on tough boards. They have larger 24"x24" boards too that are pretty cool.  Many of their boards come pre-printed with graph lines, anatomy pictures, periodic tables, etc. Some are printed on one side but have markerboard material on both sides."--Zeke Kossover

www.whiteboardsusa.com --Frank Noschese

Playscapes (bulk supplier) --Jane Jackson

"Huddle Boards by Steelcase. You might find expanding your search using this term helpful."--Phil Long (This is a high-end product)


 

Recommended Sizes

24" x 32"

Good size for group work, especially in landscape orientation.  Students (once in the habit) can write large enough for whole class to see.  This size will fit on most lab tables without taking up too much of a footprint.  This is the size that many "modelers" use in physics and math.

 

9" x 12"

Small and convenient, but . . .  This is the minimum size for individual use and will accommodate a sheet of paper.  This is really not practical for group work or large classrooms (where you'd want students to see what others wrote from across the room).  The good news: an entire class set won't take up much space and can fit in an unused digital projector bag.  There's no doubt about it, these are small.  But in a way handy, too.  Simple graphs and diagrams can still lead to great discussions.  Below, two student groups tried to represent a diagram of high precision but low accuracy . . .  How could you lead a class discussion to sort this one out?

 

2' x 4'

Great for group work and easy for lumber stores to cut for you.  These prop nicely portrait or landscape style in the tray of your wal mounted chalk/marker board.  The downside is they are a little awkward for students to move around at this size, especially if you have sinks or gas outlets at your lab tables--it can be difficult to find a large enough level writing surface.  Pictured below is a 2' x 4' board being used.  There is a lot of room for reporting data, generating graphs and answering questions--large enough for everyone in the class to see.  Plus, there's room for artsy diagrams!  The example below is just BEGGING for a discussion of slope . . .

 


 

Tricks of the trade . . .

Perhaps the biggest drawback to using whiteboards is the use of dry erase markers.  They can be messy, are a consumable item and are non-renewable.  There are alternatives you might not be aware of, however:

  • "There are a couple of solutions to yucky pens. They make whiteboard markers that are refillable and use a water based ink. I like the ones made by AusPen . The six pack with refillable six color inks cost $50. Used them for entire year and never needed replacing. They needed refilling about once a week. On the other hand, no dust and the board is far, far easier to erase and clean. New pens cost $1.50. Ink is extra.The nibs wear out and need replacing. I love them." -- Zeke Kossover
  • "There are also whiteboard crayons. They require more effort to erase than dry erase markers. I wouldn't use them on my main board, but for small boards they work fine and the crayons don't need capping so they last pretty much forever." -- Zeke Kossover

Helpful hints on buying and maintaining whiteboards -- Jane Jackson

Whiteboard care & cleaning (compiled listserv discussion from ASU's modeling website)

Propping whiteboards up in the tray of the chalkboard/markerboard in the front of the room helps students see them all at once.  You may even be able to prop them up on the upper frame of the chalkboard/markerboard.  Alternatively, whiteboard stands  can be purchased/made (for larger whiteboards).  Guitar hangers could also work. . .

Chalkboard paint can be added to the back of an economy board for using chalk.  -- Jim Deane


If you (or your students!) are tech-savvy, even smartphones or iPads can be used as "mini" whiteboards:

Above is a screen capture of a graphic created with the Doodle Buddy on an iPhone.  In this example, the numbers of apps resulting from searches were plotted.  While this is done in tongue-and-cheek (the implied exponential trend is meaningless), it does demonstrate how text can be inserted, rotated and graphs generated.  This particular app is free and has limited but useful features.