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.

*Update* - Two months in and it is still working great!  No problems with ghosting or writing.

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.