Friday, July 22, 2022

Need Another White Board? (Updated)

 So, as I mentioned in the previous post, I moved schools and with the move comes adjusting to a new classroom.  This is both exciting and frustrating as I had a gloriously huge room before.  When I got to my new space, I noticed a big problem.  See if you can spot it:

OK, I guess the title of the post is a slight giveaway.  Yep, No white board on the front wall.  I do have one on the side wall, so I could make the class go lengthwise, but now I have no screen on the front wall.  I really need to have both available.  So what to do?

I thought about asking for one to be installed, and I probably will eventually, but since I am new, I didn't think that was the best first option.  Even if they were agreeable, doubtful I would be able to get it before school started.

I looked into buying a white board, but HOLY COW!  Those things are expensive!  A 5' by 4' board will cost you at least $200.  A good size one can go over a thousand!

I looked into using chalkboard paint, but wasn't sure that was allowed and also didn't see anything immediately on the quality of it.  I might still pursue that on the other side of the TV.  Eventually.

Looking at chalkboard paint made me start looking at making a white board.  I knew there was white board paint out there, but when I started looking at that, I found that both Home Depot and Lowes sell 8' by 4' white board panels for $20.

But how good could they be?  Well, a quick look at the comments told me that people were VERY happy with the quality of the project.  In fact, the big complaint was that they splintered if you cut them to size, but as I wasn't cutting them, I was fine with it.  By the way, if you do cut one,  just put a strip of tape front and back over the area to be cut and it helps to prevent splintering - or, even better, just ask the good people at Home Depot to cut it for you.  They usually cut the first two cuts for free, but even if you have to pay, it is not much per cut).

My biggest concern was over ghosting.  If I erased material on the board, I expect it to erase.  In order to prevent ghosting, I waxed the board with ordinary car wax (Turtle Wax, to be exact, mainly because that is what I remember my dad using to wax his car).  I went with the paste because it seemed like a better way to go.  I waxed the board twice.  I read that this really does wonders to make the board erase better.  The guy who wrote it said that at some point after six months, he noticed the board was getting a little harder to erase, so he waxed it again and it lasted another six months.

So, how to mount it?  Well, I read varying methods.  My biggest problem was that I didn't know anything about the construction on the wall I was going to put it on.  It was some sort of drywall, though it seemed thicker and a harder than the drywall in my house.  I didn't know what was behind it and when I tried to use a stud finder, that was giving off all sorts of odd readings.

I went with two methods to keep up the board.  The first was double-sided mounting tape.  I found some at Walmart rated to hold up to 30 pounds.  The board itself only weighs 18.  So I bought a couple of rolls of that.  I put it on the back of the board and let it sit overnight to bond. 

Then I bought some mirror mounting clips (you, know, the small clear plastic things that hold a mirror to the wall?).  I drew a line three feet up from the floor and screwed in about four of those clips along it using the white plastic dry-wall anchors that come with the clips.

Do I need the clips?  Probably not, but between the clips and the mounting tape, I don't see this going anywhere anytime soon. 

I recruited my son to help me take off the cover of the backside mounting tape and slide the board into the mirror clips.  Then we pressed the board against the wall to make the mounting tape do its job.

Now came the truth time - does it write and erase?  See for yourself!

Do you have to be DIY savvy to pull this off?  I don't think so.  The only tools I used was a drill and a level.  The drill I used was nothing more than a glorified electric screwdriver.  You do want use of a truck, though.  That 8' x 4' panel is not going to fit in the back of your Honda Accord.

So, how much did it cost?

8' x 4' White Board Panel - $20

Some rolls of mounting tape - $24

Turtle Wax - $4

Mirror clips - $3

Total - $51

Is it is worth spending $51 to get a white board where I want it?  It is to me.  Make it cheaper by screwing the board directly into the wall to avoid the extra expense of mounting tape.  I just didn't want to see the screws in the board and was a bit paranoid about what I would be drilling into. 

The only drawback is that it is not magnetic and I do not have a marker tray (though I am seriously considering building one this weekend).

If, after some time, I notice that the board is not worth it, I'll be glad to edit this post as a fail.  If you are finding this well after the post was written and there are no updates, write a comment or shoot me an email at and I'll be glad to tell you to go for it or not!


Important to know - use Expo markers on this board.  They will erase, but the knock off marker I used had to be scrubbed off.

Also, I gave in and added a wooden tray.  The tray cost me more than I thought it would because the thin piece of lattice that I used as the "guard rail" to keep the markers from rolling off was $1.28 per foot, not for the board itself.  Still, I do like this look better than the mirror clips at the bottom.

The bottom board was $6 and the lattice board cost me $9.  The three right angle supports under it cost less than $3 for the lot of them.  Add in the finish nails to secure the lattice board to the bottom board, and you put in another $18 to the project.  In hindsight, I would have chosen a different type of "guard rail" board to save money.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

A Few Changes

Big changes in my life coming up - I just changed schools!  With that comes the excitement of new possibilities and the pain of having to switch all my programs.  With that in mind,  let me give you some advice - 

  • Create a separate email address for all your subscriptions.  Thankfully I had started doing that a while back, but it was still a pain to have to switch all of my subscriptions away from my school email address.  While I had already put Kahoot!, Blooket, Socrative, etc. under a different email address, I started this blog  under my school account.  Once they deactivated my school account, I lost a majority of the images on this blog.
  • Be prepared to not be able to easily switch your Google Drive.  More on this later, but if you find yourself in a need right away, let me suggest the website  It will let you move your drive from one cloud to the other.  I'll do a whole post on that later.
The other change is my course schedule.  I now find myself teaching Honors English II (never taught that as an honors class before), Honors English IV (never taught that as an honors class before), and AP Literature and Composition (never taught any AP before).  I will still keep this blog aimed primarily at teaching kids who struggle in English, but we may see a few things I'm working on for the Honors and AP popping up here and there.  I am swamped with trying to get these new courses taken care of (especially the AP one), so new blog posts will probably be a bit sporadic than normal this year.  Bear with me!

Thankfully, Jeff Goldblum is here to keep me from feeling overwhelmed!

Here's hoping everyone is having a great summer!

Monday, July 11, 2022

The Zipf Mystery

 It's summer and here is an interesting (if you are an English teacher, that is) video on the frequency of words.  The video is long, but the first few minutes is what will grab your attention the most.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

PowerPoint Games

 We are here at the end of the year and I've not updated this blog in a few weeks due to research paper grading and a few life things that just get in the way of other life things.  However, I ran across this site full of PowerPoint games that can be fun reviews and give a little variety of the same old online quizzes all the time.

As my students are taking a teacher-made exam today, I was going going to have screenshots of them all posted here for you, but when I got to school this morning, I found that my overpowered IT Internet filter categorizes this as a game site and has it blocked.  I will refrain from going on a rant about how I feel about the school Internet filter and my IT department in general, but this pretty much sums it up:

I guess I should be thankful for all the woes that my Zscaler saves me from.  Wouldn't want me to get distracted by games, Spotify, or anything of interest on the web.

Anyway, you don't need my screenshots - just check it out for yourselves.  These are probably not games you want to use regularly, but work well for an old fashion test review or just something a little different.

If you know of a game dump like this elsewhere, please share it in the comments (even if you are finding this post 5 years after posting)!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

It's that time of year again! STATE TEST TIME!

  Do you have a state mandated reading comprehension test for your course?  At this point you have done everything you can do to increase their ability to read, now it is time to supercharge their test taking ability!

There is no charge for this activity, just download it from the Extreme English Teacher Teachers-Pay-Teachers store.  If you like it, I would appreciate a positive review.  Those really do help!

Standardized reading tests are a joke, if you ask me.  We are requiring students to spend an hour and a half to two hours focusing on boring reading passages. What this activity does well is to give students the ability to focus a little longer to get another passage in before their brain fries from your oh-so-wonderful state test.  The methods in there were honed in my classroom and I consistently had my non-motivated non-readers score higher than expected on the NC English II EOC and the NCFE for English IV (my scores were in the blue repeatedly, if you are a fellow NC teacher and knows what that means).  The method works! 

If you used it, let me know in the comments and again - positive reviews on Teachers-Pay-Teachers is ALWAYS APPRECIATED!

Monday, May 2, 2022

Meta Maus

 I'm looking at the possibility of teaching 11th grade next year, which is American Lit here in NC, and I immediately wanted to teach Maus.  I remember liking it very much when I read it last (years and years ago - I'm old), but could not put my hands on a copy here at school.  My wife, wonderful person that she is, found vol.1 and vol. 2 and picked them up for me when we were at the beach.

I was excited and even more so when I realized that I had only ever read the first volume.  The second volume - WOW! but there is so much on that front that I will save it for another time.  Anyway, as I was reading through and trying to find some background information to add to my pool to teach from, I learned there was a quite extensive behind the scenes book done by the author on the whole project called Meta Maus.

It is a large book that has a DVD-R with recordings and stuff too.  I immediately went to try and buy it thinking if I was lucky, it might run around $50.  Boy was I wrong.  Let's try $389.99 on

I did find some cheaper, but the cheapest English version I could find was around $149, which is too much for me.  I tried finding online versions, anything I could to get it affordably, but to no avail until I saw it on a textbook site for $32.  I must have gotten the last one, because I was going to put the link here for you, but it no longer exists - however, Amazon is currently selling a used one for $40 that they were not when I was looking the first time.

What is the point?  If you have not read Maus yet, DO IT.  If you teach Maus and want to get more behind the scenes from the author, then bide you time and keep looking until you find a use copy that is affordable.  It is easily worth $40.

And, just because the author mentioned it in Meta Maus, for your viewing pleasure, here is a website that showcases cats that look like Hitler.

If you teach Maus, I would love to talk to you about it.  Either reply or shoot me an email at extremeenglishteacher @!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Senior Skip Day

 Ah!  That magical time is upon us (may have already come and gone for you) when all the seniors disappear leaving your classroom lonely and quiet!  It's the most wonderful time of the year and my second favorite holiday (right after Free Comic Book Day which is coming soon!).

I always have about two or three seniors that show up on these days and since it is during research paper time, we just use it to work on the paper.  One thing I do do with them is a Kahoot! I made just about this special day.  I'll be glad to share it with you here: