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90's Answer to the Chalkboard?
Nicole Stockdale, Teachnet. com Staff
For more than a hundred years, chalkboards have been one of the definitive components of a classroom. What better way to make information accessible to students -- without making 30 copies?
Many teachers believe they have found a better way -- with whiteboards. There's no more chalk dust filling classroom air, no more chalk residue on your fingers, no more clapping the erasers outside after school. Instead, glossy white boards line the walls in a growing number of classrooms.
Should you rush out to equip your classroom? Read this first.
WHERE TO GET THEM
One of the appeals of whiteboards is the ease in which you can make individual boards for your students. Like mini-chalkboards, these are great for practicing spelling words and math problems, in addition to individual work. While chalkboards were easy to make by using chalkboard paint, making the whiteboards may even be easier. You can simply buy the boards in large pieces (most come in rectangles four by eight feet) and have them cut into smaller boards. They are called white tile board, melamine, or simply whiteboards. Most teachers suggest cutting them into squares that are one foot by one foot. This way, you can get 32 good-sized boards. We checked with Lowe's, a local home improvement store. They sell the boards for $8.99 a piece and will cut them for free.
SMOOTHING OUT THE ROUGH EDGES
Once you cut the individual boards, you may have rough edges. There are several ways to remedy this problem. First, see if you can talk the company from which you bought the boards into sanding them down for you at no additional charge. Make sure you let them know you are a teacher and these are for your classroom; people tend to be more charitable for educational purposes. If that doesn't work, talk to area high school shop instructors and vocational technical facilities. They may be able to sand them down for you; it could even turn into a class project for them. You can also make use of your parents. Have volunteers help by covering the edges with colorful tape (try neon electrical tape).
The next problem is the dry erase markers. They are not nearly as cheap as chalk is, and they run out and may not last all year. For those of you using the individual whiteboards, try placing the dry erase markers on your supply list. That way, each student will be required to bring at least one in for his own use. Like any supply, keep some extras in case of emergency. And, if it is your policy, don't be afraid to discreetly supply markers to those who can't afford them. Like every other supply, markers will be lost or ruined. For those who chronically lose their markers, have them write on a piece of scratch paper with crayons or pencils. This usually prompts children to come to class with new markers. Also, never be afraid to ask local businesses to donate a few markers. Many have dry erase boards installed in their offices and therefore keep large supplies of markers on hand.
While many people erase their whiteboards with paper towels, you may consider adding an old, clean sock to the supply list. By using an old sock to erase the boards, you can avoid some of the scratching paper causes. This will also extend the life of your boards. In addition, students can place their markers in the socks. This, in turn, reduces the number of lost markers. Once the socks become too dirty to get the job done, send them home to be washed or replaced.
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