Monday, October 10, 2011

Office Supply of the Month | Whiteboards

As a schoolchild, I was what you'd call a teacher's pet. I volunteered for everything. Sharpen the pencils? Sure! Pass out worksheets? Yes! But my favorite task of all? Erasing the chalkboards. Something about wiping the slate clean in preparation of a new subject or new day was sort of refreshing. The downside? Chalk dust.

The sea change from chalkboard to whiteboard began sometime during my junior high years. By high school, about half of the classrooms had replaced their chalkboards with whiteboards. They were even better. Loads of colors, easier to wipe. I used to a large, colorful whiteboard in my cubicle (Tasks were color-coded by project and person responsible. Deadlines in red, of course), and I'm still trying to figure out how to work a whiteboard into my current setup (likely in the entryway, since the office space is running low on wall space).

Whiteboards were invented sometime in the 1950s or early '60s. Their invention is somewhat unclear.  Some think that they were invented by Martin Helt, a photographer who was looking for a wall-mounted option to jot down notes next to the telephone. He found that a sharpie ink on film negatives could easily be wiped off with water, and ran with that idea.

Regardless of their origin, whiteboards were first commercially produced in the 60s, and were initially made of porcelain mounted on steel. Film laminate whiteboards followed soonafter. Whiteboards became popular in the 1980s, led by businesses and then classrooms, once studies began warning about chalkdust allergies and asthma. By the mid-90s, they were the classroom writing board of choice, and the rest is history.

You can use dry erase markers on glass, mirrors, laminated paper, sealed ceramics, metal, or specially treated wood for the same effect.

Write on them
Draw on them
Distract children by letting them draw on it
Projector screen
Permanent calendar (tape down the grid with thin electrical tape and you won't have to worry about redrawing lines every month...Sharpies wipe off when you draw over them)
Making a cool video
Ok, there are not that many uses for whiteboards, but they can be pretty fun

Fun with whiteboards

Are you a whiteboard user? Do you prefer classic whiteboard, clear glass or mirror, or some other kind of surface?


  1. Did you see these Wallmates - I did a post about them a few weeks ago. They are like big whiteboard stickers! We have really old, crumbling walls so hanging stuff is a pain. These are super cheap and work really well!

  2. Great post! Laminated paper/poster makes great dry erase board for classroom/student use! My recent discovery - dry erase CRAYONS made by Crayola (sold at Walmart) - awesome for classroom, no odor, easy to wipe clean - when I want students to write their answers and hold up to show me/the class.

  3. @ Grace - I must have missed that post, but what a cool product! Thanks for sharing!

    @ roller coaster teacher - oh my, I haven't heard of those! That's pretty awesome, and I love that there's no odor.


Like this? Leave a comment!
Comments with emails attached will receive emailed replies; otherwise replies will be added below the original comment.