EngageNY and the Personal Whiteboard (Part three of a three-part series)


If you have been using any component of EngageNY’s K-5 math curriculum, A Story of Units, there is no question that you’ve had to copy and/or produce a variety of classroom tools and resources for you and your students.  While our last two posts directed you towards suggestions for planning, assessment, and homework, today’s entry is all about students and the personal whiteboard. We are highlighting some of our best discoveries and creations below, and you can find them – plus many more – at the EngageNY support section of our website, ccssmathactivities.com.  Click on your grade level, and then choose the blue button labeled “Classroom Tools.”  Check back often as we are always adding new free downloads!

The Personal Whiteboard

Almost every lesson in EngageNY recommends students use a “personal whiteboard.”  While many of us have actual board-like student-size whiteboard sets in our classrooms, those are not always the best choice for maximizing the ideas in the curriculum.  EngageNY suggests that you use clear sheet protectors so that students can slip blank templates in and out, thus saving on copies and also giving students clear scaffolding for their work.

After some initial disappointing results with cheaper, thinner sheet protectors, we have found our favorite:  Avery Top Load Clear Vinyl Envelopes (product number 74804).  They come in packs of 10 for about $9 per pack.  These are sturdy, crystal clear, and don’t crinkle when students erase. A small investment in these, plus thin-tipped Expo markers and a piece of fleece cut into squares for erasers, will provide your students an excellent way to practice the different EngageNY models.

A few teacher tips we’ve picked up for whiteboard management:

  • At the beginning of the year, label the Expo pens and caps with student names. It’s amazing how much better our young friends take care of the marker and accompanying cap when it becomes “their” property!
  • Slice the tops off of manila file folders (we like to find the stack of used ones in the staff room, since you’re cutting the tops off anyway) and leave them inside the Avery vinyl envelopes. Students can collect templates there, and it also provides a little extra stiffness for the board.
  • Copy templates you use often on different colored papers. This way, it’s easier for students to find.  “Please put your green number bond template on one side of your board and leave the other side blank.”

Templates to go with that personal whiteboard

Whenever EngageNY asks you to use a certain template in the whiteboard, you may or may not be able to find it easily in your teacher’s guide.  Quite often, blackline templates appear the first time they’re needed, and then it’s up to you to keep a copy on hand (easy to do if students keep them in the whiteboard).  Sometimes, just knowing that fact at the beginning of the year can save a lot of time later on!

Many of the popular templates for EngageNY, such as the number bonds and place value charts, are used so often that we have found it’s handy to have different versions of them so that students can practice using them in a variety of ways.  To that end, we have created a variety of printable templates for you to download and use with your personal whiteboards (once you click on the link, choose your grade level and select the blue button labeled “Classroom Tools.”)

One of our favorite go-to resources for the personal whiteboard is this series we created that allows students to put together numbers to ten (and twenty, on a separate download) using a ten frame, number bond, and equation.  On each page of the download, the equation provides less structure, increasing students’ responsibility for selecting and placing the proper symbols.



There are so many other things we want to share about the “Classroom Tools” section of our grade-level EngageNY support pages, it’s become clear that this three-part series will definitely expand to some more parts in the near future!  In the meantime, please let us know what additional templates or supports you’d like to see for EngageNY…you are probably not alone, and we love to help!

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