Classroom Strategies

Whiteboard Desks: Low tech can be really fun!

My desks before the transformation
Somehow by the luck of the draw, I ended up with the worst desks in our entire school when I joined this staff in 2013. Not only are the desk legs loose, and I’m constantly tightening them with a wrench, but also they are peeling and carved up. One even says “I hate this class” in big letters across the front. Let’s not even get into the gum artwork under the desks…
It finally came to a point where I was fed up. These desks have been through a lot, and they aren’t serving my kids’ needs. I can’t exactly go out and buy new desks. Solution: do some DIY and make whiteboard desks.
Rewind: A few years ago I went to the Home Depot down the street from my school, and really nicely asked the employees to cut up some panel board into 12” x 12” squares. Normally they charge for cuts; however, it wasn’t busy that afternoon and I made my case that I’m a local teacher, so they didn’t charge me! I had students use colored duct tape to cover the edges, and I had my own student white boards.

After the transformation. Thanks Eddie!
Fast forward to this year, I mentioned that I wanted whiteboard desks to a math teacher at my school, and he jumped right on it! We found that for every 4’ x 8’ panel board, we could make 2 tabletops for me, and 4 tabletops for his classroom. Eddie went to home depot, bought the panel boards, cut them, and we glued them to my desks. Yes, we glued them. No, it wasn’t an issue because it is a drastic improvement in desk quality.
To do my whole classroom in whiteboard tops, it cost just under $80.
Thanks Eddie!
With my new desks, not only is writing more pleasant, but also it has brightened up my classroom.
Students rotating and giving feedback after making claims
and finding evidence from an article.
Since we did this in January 2017, I’ve used them multiple times with students. They’ve brainstormed for projects and given peer feedback (in a different color), drawn diagrams of science concepts, and reflected on their work.
My favorite part of it is that students can quickly do a gallery walk to see their peers’ work, and add in comments and feedback in a different color marker. When they’re all done, they take a picture and we erase the desks.

10 thoughts on “Whiteboard Desks: Low tech can be really fun!”

  1. I love this! If you have to do it again, ask if Home Depot would donate the whiteboard material. It is a small request, so they likely will only need a request on school letterhead. I did this for $50 of pvc pipe I needed for a project and they did it without hesitation!


  2. Very cool!! If you are interested, we could send you some samples of our whiteboard films. We can custom cut them to fit right on your school desks! Just peel & stick, and you're good to go!


  3. How well do they work for labs and chemicals? I love the idea but we work with different materials and hot plates and wonder how that would work in the long run.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s