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Whiteboards (or dry-erase boards) have taken over the role once completely dominated by chalkboards in the classroom. But with all the different kinds of boards available today, how do you decide what type of board will be best for your school’s classrooms? Here’s what to consider.

Wall Mounted or Mobile?

First things first: Do you want a whiteboard to mount on the wall in your classroom, or would you prefer a mobile option?

Wall-mounted whiteboards are ideal for permanent use in a classroom, and most classrooms designate a good amount of wall space for this purpose. Wall-mounted whiteboards offer a great permanent solution and are also great space savers as they don’t take up any floor space. Make sure to measure your wall before shopping to ensure your new board will fit the space. 

 

Mobile whiteboards take up more floor space than wall-mounted options, but they’re great learning tools when teachers need a writing surface in different areas of the room or even in different rooms. Mobile dry-erase boards come in almost as many sizes as the wall-mounted variety, making it easy to find the right option for your classroom. Many mobile boards are even reversible, meaning they have a whiteboard surface on both sides.

Type of Board Surfaces

Whiteboards come in a broad range of surface types that all look similar, so it can be tough to decipher the differences and which option will be best for your classroom. The 4 main types of whiteboard are as follows:

Melamine whiteboards are made of a plastic material that can be written on and erased. The primary benefit to melamine is that it is budget-friendly and lightweight. However, note that this type of surface is more susceptible to staining, ghosting, and denting, so you may need to replace it every few years, especially if used in a busy classroom. Melamine boards are often made with a steel backing that makes them magnetic, which is great for posting notes and student artwork in a school.

 

Porcelain whiteboards, otherwise known as ceramic dry-erase boards, are another common type of whiteboard. Although more expensive than melamine, porcelain offers much increased durability and resistance to scratches and stains. Like melamine, porcelain boards are easy to write on and often magnetic, but because porcelain is less porous, the surface is less likely to succumb to ghosting.

Glass boards are not porous at all, making them the most durable option. However, it also makes them more expensive. Because markers can be easily erased from glass without ghosting or staining, these boards last much longer than melamine or porcelain, so you won’t need to replace them anytime soon. Glass boards are usually frameless and even come in fun colors that can work well in a classroom.

 

Gorilla Glass is a specialized type of glass made by Corning that is thinner and more lightweight than regular glass. Gorilla Glass is commonly used to make smartphone screens because it is super-durable and resistant to cracking and scratching. The same material is now used to manufacture dry-erase boards, making them even tougher and longer-lasting than standard glass boards.

Specialty Whiteboards

There are a number of specially designed whiteboards available to meet specific classroom needs.

Music staff whiteboards, as the name implies, have a printed music staff on them. This is ideal for music, choir, and band teachers to use without having to use valuable class time to draw a new staff every day. 

Calendar boards are similar to music staff boards but have a blank calendar printed on them instead of a staff. These boards are especially ideal for classrooms where a calendar is almost always posted somewhere. These large, erasable calendars eliminate the need for paper waste and make calendar creation more fun for students and teachers.

Peel-and-stick whiteboards come rolled up like a poster. Peel off their protective backing and stick the board on your wall to create a nice built-in look that is often more affordable than framed boards that need to be mounted.

 

Colored boards are usually made of glass and come in a variety of sizes and colors. Whether you’re matching your whiteboards to your school colors or want a cool black dry-erase board for your school cafeteria, there are many choices.

Whiteboard easels and flip charts allow educators and students to write comfortably while keeping markers and erasers nearby. Most easels are mobile, making them easy to move around in the classroom or wherever they’re needed.

 

Digital dry-erase boards are interactive and often preferred for higher education. These boards become large, interactive screens that bring presentations to life when connected to a computer and projector.

The "What, When, and How" of Flexible Seating

We've all heard of flexible seating. It's a growing trend in schools across the country—especially those that embrace innovation and creative change. Endless pictures on social media show how teachers can configure their classrooms to make learning both exciting and effective. Literature, blogs, and think pieces explore the flexible movement, but what, at its core, is it all about?

Many people have questions, and, having used flexible seating in my elementary school classrooms for several years, I have answers. They all boil down to this: by giving students choices to enhance their comfort, they can do better work and feel better.

What Is Flexible Seating?

Flexible seating is, essentially, a way to diversify seating options in the classroom while allowing students to choose what will help them do their best work. Different kids have different needs—some fidget, some prefer something squishy, and some prefer a gentle rocking motion. Provide several options, and let the students decide what works best for them.

When Do Kids Use Flexible Seating?

In my classroom, we divide time between gathered learning and independent work. Kids flock to a carpet at the front of the room during lessons and group discussions to learn together. My students are young, so I am with them for their core subjects. No matter the topic, we learn together as a group before moving to in-class work time.

When we finish a lesson, students disperse and choose a workstation. Depending on the assignment, the difficulty, or even the day, kids can choose the appropriate place to suit their mood. Each seating style may have its perks and problems for each student. However, one kid's last choice may be another's favorite.

What Types of Alternative Seats Are Available? 

My journey with flexible seating began with yoga balls. I saw photos of imaginative classrooms in bright colors with yoga balls stationed at various workspaces. At the start of every year, I typically have about 12 of them. Since they're bouncy, round, and fun, I start by teaching kids how to properly sit on them. I tell them, "I shouldn't be able to hear your yoga ball" if they move too much.

Some kids prefer other active seating options, such as floor rockers or inexpensive scoop rockers. Others prefer softer options, such as cushions or modular shapes that can be stacked and moved to fit their needs. They can even sit at the teacher's desk. Different teachers employ different techniques and select suites of seats that are age-appropriate, size appropriate, and suit the demographics of their classrooms.

What About Traditional Desks and Chairs?

Some students prefer traditional seating to aid in their concentration. While nobody has a dedicated desk that's exclusively "theirs," there are several desks to work from as they desire. In my classroom, kids keep their personal supplies in one particular desk and use that as a touchdown point throughout the day. That all changes during flexible time—any desk is up for grabs, and everybody has equal access to any workspace. 

How Do You Ensure Fairness During Flexible Worktime?

Yoga balls sound like the most fun, don't they? While some students don't prefer them, many do—especially when they're first introduced. We take an egalitarian approach if the interest outweighs the opportunities. Students can sign up for their use, and we cycle through them as needed. Of course, the appeal of yoga balls may wear off over time, and kids will usually find their perfect fit. Some will stick with yoga balls; others will move on.

There's always added interest when I bring in any new piece of furniture, no matter what it may be. I take a similar approach and ensure that everybody can take their turn and, as always, interest evens off after a while.

Does Flexible Seating Affect Students’ Behavior?

Absolutely. Over time, I have noticed behavioral issues decrease, especially as the students learn to collaborate and share. If kids feel comfortable, they're far more likely to open up and become willing to learn. Kids who struggle with sitting still tend to benefit from subtle movements that can meet their needs without derailing their concentration. Overall, flexible seating leads to happier students, and happier students are better learners.

Choice is notoriously absent in K–12 education, yet it is necessary in the real world. Flexible seating isn't just done; it's taught. And by its nature, we're also teaching children how to make decisions that work best for them. They take control of their best interests—a lesson that can't come from a textbook.

 

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