Pencils, they are a useful tool at school, but they are also a source of frustration for teachers. What's a teacher to do?
Frustration #1: The pencil that doesn't sharpen, the tip keeps breaking off.
Different brands of pencil sharpen different ways. If your school allows it, write a specific brand of pencil on your school supply list. Non-teachers don't realize how much difference there is between brands of pencils. My favorite brand is Ticonderoga.
Frustration #2: Lost pencil syndrome
I've tried several different strategies to solve this frustration:
++Assign each student a number and write their number at the top of the pencil near the eraser with a sharpie.
++Give each student a small amount of sticky tak to put on their desk. They stick their pencil to their desk using the sticky tak.
Click to download
Frustration #3: Sharpening at the wrong time
Accidents do happen and pencil tips do break in the middle of a lesson. Keep a cup of sharpened pencils that students may borrow if this happens during a lesson. Put a small piece of colored duct tape at the top of the pencil near the eraser so you can easily identify your pencil. If students need to borrow a pencil during a lesson, they leave their pencil next to the Teacher's Pencil Cup and borrow one from the cup. This seems to be quicker and quieter than letting students sharpen their pencil during a lesson.
Frustration #4: Fighting over the special pencil
Special pencil fights happen more frequently when students keep their own supplies. I personally prefer community supplies. When supplies are community supplies, I use the standard yellow pencil for the day-to-day work. I used the decorated pencils that parents send in for "special assignments". You know, those assignments that you want them to do their absolute best work on, like a quarterly writing prompt or something you are going to hang in the hallway. It's funny how a sparkly pencil has so much influence.
I asked the teachers who read my facebook page if they had any tips to pass along to you. Here are a few tips:
*Two cups (sharpened and unsharpened) system was a popular tip. Sarah Miller Ford has the two cup management system. She has a red cup (stopped working) and a green cup (ready to go).
*Barbara Bailey recommends the prop and park from Really Good Stuff (see picture above).
*Jason Fortenbacher is friends with the custodian. His custodian brings him about 60 pencils a week. Custodians can help you in more ways than you thought!
*Michelle Caffrey Carpenter, a middle school teacher, shared two ideas. She teaches with someone who makes the students leave collateral, like a shoe, when they borrow a pencil. She, personally, bought pencils with her name on them from a site called For Teachers Only.
So far, 35 teachers have left a comment on my facebook page. Click on the graphic below to read them. Look for the graphic of the pencil with the orange box that is at the top of this post on my facebook page.
Click to read more tips from teachers on my FB page.
Do you have any pencil management tips?
Books about pencils:
Books about pencils:
Looking for non-fiction? Here's one for you.