Finished "Idea Wall" 5.5ft wide 8ft tall.

The “Idea Wall” – Installing A Whiteboard Wall – On The Cheap.

As a part of the EdTechTeam Teacher Leader course we had to look at redesigning our learning space to make it more conducive to meeting our students’ needs. We looked at seating, arrangement and choice of furniture, and how we used our wall space.

I decided to use one of my walls to put up a 5.5ft wide, 8ft tall whiteboard. When I ran the idea by my principal he immediately dubbed it an “Idea Wall”. I installed it for about $45

On a lark I decided to also extend my whiteboard at the front of my room to the ceiling so that I could use it as a giant screen. This added a third sheet of panel board to my project and increased the cost to about $60 total.


When I did my research everyone said that the HomeDepot panel board worked much better than any of the other brands. I prefer to shop local but my local HomeDepot equivalent did not carry the correct kind of panel board so I ended up having to go to HomeDepot. With the exception of the panel board any equivalent item would probably work fine.


  • Tape Measure
  • Skill Saw
  • Drill motor with phillips head and 11/16″ size drill bit for pilot holes.
  • Yard/meter stick or chalk line
  • Level (if not setting panels on a kick-plate or preinstalled white board

    Safety Equipment (DON’T SKIP THESE)

  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Ear protection
  • Nitrile gloves (optional)


For this project I had 5.5ft between a cable run and the fire extinguisher on this wall. I decided to fill the whole space. The panelboard came in 4’x8′ sheets so I decided to cut them down to 5.5′ x 4′ to completely utilize the available horizontal space this meant that when putting two panels on top of each other I filled from the kick plate at the bottom of the wall to within a few inches of the top of the wall.

Creative Commons License Before starting.
I removed the blank wall plate. It was covering an empty wall box.

Cutting down and preparing the sheets.

  • If you cut the sheets of panel board without taking precautions it can fragment or shatter. 
  • The panels are very floppy and need to be fully supported by a very firm surface.
    Make sure it is supported to within a few inches of your cut line.
  • Cut outside the dusty sawdust gets into everything!
  1. Measure the board on both sides to the length you wish to cut and make a mark on both sides.
  2. Use 2 inch blue painters tape to cover the line you are going to cut, wrap it around the front and back of the cut.
    Creative Commons License Tape your cutline.
  3. After you have taped the cut line remeasure and mark your cut on top of the tape. I prefer using a chalk line but a straight edge will work fine too. Make sure to mark on the back side as you want to cut with the back side up, it protects the front coating better.
    Creative Commons License Chalk line to make a cutting line on the tape.
  4. Cut the panel board with the back side up.
    The panel board puts of a very fine dust like sawdust that is horrible for you if you breathe it in or get it in your eyes. I recommend full goggles not just glasses.

    Creative Commons License Don’t forget your protective gear!

    Creative Commons LicenseGoggles, dust mask, and ear protection are a must.
  5. The tape will protect the edge, after cutting you can remove it.IMG_0718Creative Commons License
  6. Sand the cut edge. Be careful not to scratch the white coating on the front of the board. KEEP WEARING YOUR EYE PROTECTION AND DUST MASK!
  7. Drill holes for your screws in the four corners and if you want it half way down the long sides. Drill from the front it does less damage to the panel board coating.

Mounting the boards

  1. Before you start, put a washer on each screw that you are going to use so that you are ready to go. You will thank yourself once you are actually putting the board on the wall.
  2. Apply double sided mounting tape to the edges of the panel board. Use clean hands!
    Stick the tape to the back of the panel board but don’t take off the paper until right before you are going to put the board up so the sticky doesn’t get dirty.

    1. On the side of the board that was to be the middle of the whiteboard I put strips on about 50% of the board to make sure that it wouldn’t flex on the wall.
    2. On the other three sides I put a piece about every 18″ to keep it solid to the wall.
      Creative Commons License Mounting tape on the “inside edge”.
  3. Peel the backing off the mounting tape and put your panel in the correct place. Put in your first screw then press the board flat across to the next screw to make sure that the board is as stretched and flat as you can get it to minimize jiggle when writing. This is the same as if you were putting up paper on the wall. Finish securing the other screws.
  4. Press the mounting tape firmly into the wall along the middle edge first then the other sides for 30+ seconds to make sure it adheres properly.
  5. Repeat with any other panels.
  6. If the edges of your panels on the outsides bow out you can flex them and add additional pieces of mounting tape.

Final Products

Creative Commons License Finished “Idea Wall” 5.5ft wide 8ft tall. – 2 sheets cut down to 5.5X4′

Creative Commons License Extended whiteboards. 2’X16′ – 1 sheet cut the long way.
The whiteboards came out well for a first attempt. It took me about 3.5 hours to cut and mount the panels. I was working by myself except for putting the “Idea Wall” panels on the wall where I had a helper holding the panels in place so I could mount them. I think it would have gone twice as fast if I had someone helping me the whole time. Unfortunately the cork strip isn’t removable so I am going to cover it with white paper because it is very annoying when using my projector.


Helpful Hints!

  • Make sure your painters tape is firmly pressed down along the whole length of your cut line so it doesn’t get peeled up while you are cutting.
  • Make sure to press your panels flat along the wall before putting in your screws you don’t want to have any slack in the panels.
  • Pay for the good double sided mounting tape. It makes a difference.
  • Measure twice, cut once.
  • Don’t forget to do your cutting outside and on a firm surface.
  • WEAR YOUR PROTECTIVE GEAR! (Seriously the sawdust from these boards is horrible.)



Twitter for Educators Infograhpic pt1

Final Project – Unit 4: Visual Literacy

Visual Literacy is very important to consider when we design our Flipped Learning lessons because we want our videos and images to be visually apealing and engaging to our students. Being aware of how to use images to good effect can greatly increase the impact of the media that we create to use with our students. When we teach our students to be visually literate we open their learning up to a whole new level because our brains process images much faster and more completely than they do text or sound.

In our age of Photoshop, Greenscreens, and other ways to change video and pictures visual literacy is incredibly important. When our students build their personal identity against the backdrop of the “perfect” pictures that they see on Instagram and other sites, many of which are faked or edited to present the apperance of “perfect” we need to make sure to educate our students about how those images impact them.

Perfect Takes Its Toll

These two videos are from an Instagram star who decided to leave social media because of the stress of having to remain “perfect”. We have to teach our students how to fully understand the images that they see so that they can make informed decisions.

Final Project


For my final project I made two infographics to help get educators on to Twitter to build their PLN.

The first infographic is why educators should join Twitter. The title is in “Twitter Blue”. The two sections of the infograhpic are a brick red and a purple both colors are vibrant while still allowing white text Read More »

Flipping a class can, but does not necessarily, leadto Flipped Learning.

Final Project – Unit 3: Flipped Learning

Flipped Learning has HUGE potential to reorganize learning in my classroom. The idea that I could drastically reduce the amount of time I spend in front of my students talking to them and engaging only a few of them is exciting. The difficulty comes in implementing it correctly. My students have very limited access to technology at home. Smartphones are common, tablets less so, and laptops and desktops are a rare beast. Even those who do have devices available often have limited internet access or don’t have internet access at all. Because of this I think that I would have to implement the Flipped Rotation or In Class Flipped model to allow my students to access the digital materials in an equitable (and productive) way.

My two lessons are targeted not at the students of my school but at the teachers. Our site is rolling out Google Apps for Education to our students in the fall and my staff do not understand the capabilities of Google Classroom, Google Drive, and the rest of the GAFE suite. These lessons are to help them start to feel comfortable with GAFE so that they will begin to integrate it into their teaching.

My first lesson is an Introduction to Google Classroom built around a Google Form. It is very basic because none of my teachers have used GC at all (as far as I know) and I need to give a brief overview and find out where they stand so that I can better support them.

My second lesson will be used later in the year to help them adapt the Google Drive Level Up Challenge to be able to use it with their students. They will have already done the challenge as part of our PD series.

Key learning to remember when using flipped learning.

From What is Flipped Learning? by

Flipping a class can, but does not necessarily, lead to Flipped Learning.

Flipped Learning Matrix

Final Project – Unit 2: Project Based Learning

Reflecting on this past year I know that my students had very little agency in their education. Our days and content were very structured. There were often open ended questions but not questions that pushed my students beyond a brief answer. I don’t find it suprising that engagement was often a struggle, particularly in the low parts of the year. Even before I joined EdTechTeam’s Teacher Leader Certificate program I knew that I needed something different to take into next year. Something that would push me and my students further, require all of the 21st Century Skills to accomplish, and engage my students more.

In April I went to the Google Apps for Educatin Sonoma Summit put on by EdTechTeam. While there I was really introduced to Project Based Learning (PBL) for the first time through Kevin Brookhouser’s keynote and sessions. There I started to learn about 20% Time and the impact it can have on student learning.

Next year I will be a TOSA and I will not have my own group of students so I focused my research on Genius Hour and how to encourage the rest of my staff to implement PBL in their classrooms. For my PBL research, I researched Genius Hour because it can be implemented on a smaller scale than 20time which should make it more attractive to teachers with impacted schedules. I believe with encouragement and support the teachers at my site will be able to move away from “unit projects” towards Project Based Learning and have a positive impact on the learning outcomes of our students.

With a little luck and a lot of hard work our students will go from having very little agency to having Genius Hour where they can reach for the stars!

Here is my Final Project for Unit 2: Project Based Learning.


Genius Hour – Higher Order Thinking Through Student Agency

Photo Credit: ScottNorrisPhoto via Compfight cc

As a part of EdTechTeam Teacher Leader program I had to research one type of Project/Problem Based Learning (PBL). I chose Genius Hour because I had heard some good things about it. Having researched it I think that every teacher should implement Genius Hour or some other form of PBL in their class. Even or especially teachers of primary grades. Genius Hour has the capability to catch the wonder of younger students and intensify their curiosity when it is still strong to help grow lifelong learners. While PBL does take a lot of time that can be difficult to carve out of a heavily scheduled school day the rewards far outweigh the difficulties.

I recently read Twitter that “school has the habit of crushing the curiosity out of students”. I wish I could remember/find who said it so that I can properly attribute it. The person who said it as part of their support of PBL. PBL is one of the ways that we can reverse the troubling trend of disengaged students. We need active curious learners who will shoot for the stars and help us solve the wicked problems that are so overwealming we ignore them rather than try to fix them, problems like global climate change.

Genuis Hour Research Presentation

Final Project – Unit 1: Global Collaboration and Community

Professional (or Personal) Learning Network (PLN) is a term that I had never heard of until very recently. A PLN is a network of educators that you connect with either in real life or via the internet. Given how little time educators actually have to work together during the school day it is very difficult for a newer teacher to build a strong PLN during the school day, especially when you are new to your school like I was this year. This is why finding a strong, vibrant PLN on Twitter has been a breath of fresh air to me.

I discovered Twitter as a resource for educators in April after attending my first Google Apps for Education Summit. I wrote extensively about that in my first blog post which I crossposted here. Since learning about using Twitter as a resource I created a new handle (@mcarlingoldberg) for use in the educational sphere, followed more than 160 educators who have shared something that I believe that I can either use in my classroom or that have made me think about how to be a better educator, and shared out more than 500 bits of (hopefully) useful information, either my own or ReTweeting others, in 140 characters or less. I even participated in my first TwitterChat this week (#TOSAchat).

Going to the Google Summit and re-discovering Twitter revitalized my teaching in the lowest part of the school year and having that vibrant community on Twitter that is there at my beck and call any time of the day is an astounding resource for a newer teacher like me. It gives me the power to do professional development on my own schedule and in the times not filled by work or family. I am already using that PLN to ask questions, answer questions, share and receive advice, and develop connections with educators around the world. One such connection is the one that I have made with Christine Pinto (@PintoBeanz11) who is a TK teacher who is very successfully using GAFE with her students. She has even started her own hashtag #GAFE4littles. Over the past month she and I have traded tips, given encouragement, and in my case been motivated by our conversations. I am building a large arsenal of her work to share with the TK/Kinder team at my school to hopefully encourage them to fully embrace GAFE for their littles. Without my PLN I wouldn’t be able to share this with my fellow educators that comprise the face to face part of my network.

In my school most of the teachers’ online PLN consists of using Pinterest to research ideas to use in their classrooms. I have been and will continue to share the resources and ideas that I am gleaning from my PLN with the staff at my school and encourage them to build their own PLN through my example.

As a part of the EdTechTeamOnline I have also collaborated with my PLN to develop new lesson materials.


Digital Citizenship – Strong, Memorable Passwords

It is 2016, as educators it is no longer enough to teach our kids how to keep themselves safe on the streets because so much of all of our lives takes place on the internet. Internet safety is one aspect of Digital Citizenship in which we must make sure that our students and children are fully fluent. One aspect of internet safety that I think is incredibly important for everyone, child or adult, to get behind and understand is the need for strong, memorable passwords.

Strong, memorable passwords that are unique to every situation are an absolute necessity in today’s world. Having weak passwords, especially if you reuse them in different places, is like asking someone to steal your identity, your money, even your safety as they get access to all of your personal data and accounts online.

Generally, most people do passwords very badly. Even those who actually try to have good passwords. One aspect of this is illustrated by the XKCD comic.

password_strength Source: (CC BY-NC 2.5)

I feel very strongly about the need to educate everyone around us about what makes up a strong, memorable password, how to make them, and why we need them. To this end several members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN) and I worked together to create this hyperdoc about Strong Passwords. We made it for educators to use to educate themselves and to use with their students to encourage good Digital Citizenship (and strong, memorable passwords). Collaborating digitally with educators that I have never met in person in order to create a completely new lesson was an awesome new experience. I really, really like the idea and practice of having a strong online PLN.

You can find the active Digital Citizenship hyperdoc HERE. If you want to make yourself a copy you can copy it HERE and please feel free to share.

Hyperdoc created by
Micah Carlin-Goldberg, @mcarlingoldberg;
Christi Bangsund, @cbangsund;
Brenda Petersen, @teachitb;
Tuesday Ramunni, @RamunniT;

Header image: (CC BY 2.0)