Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: If you give a student a pencil...

If you give a student a pencil...




Let's be honest, pencils are a constant battle in the classroom! I decided early on that students would not be permitted to sharpen pencils in my classroom. I did this for several reasons: I find the sound to be a HUGE distraction to myself and my students. I find that certain students seem to NEED to sharpen their pencil all the time and I don't have time to police it. And, pencil sharpeners can be expensive and I have had at least one break every year. I also decided that I didn't want to allow the small hand-held sharpeners in my students' desks. Let's be real- they ALWAYS make a mess, no matter how much we talk about sharpening over the trash can!

Instead of students sharpening pencils, I decided that I would sharpen the pencils. So I set out two cans: sharp and not sharp. I filled the can with new pencils and felt like I had solved the pencil problem. Then, halfway through the day, I hear "Mrs. Sears, the sharp pencils are gone." How can that be?!!! I sharpened like 100 of those bad boys last night! But sure enough, the "not sharp" can is overflowing with both sharp and not sharp pencils. Sigh.

My next plan was to have volunteers sharpen the pencils in the workroom. So I set out a huge bag of pencils with a note that said "Please sharpen :-)" The note and the pencils sat there for weeks. I kid you not. WEEKS. Apparently, volunteers don't like sharpening germ infested pencils either. Darn.

I got SOOO fed up...and that is when an idea came to me. An idea that solved all my pencil woes. And it is so simple that I nearly slapped myself for not thinking of it sooner. I gave all of my kids a MECHANICAL pencil!


I LOVE looking at this picture! Instead of looking at a can of pencils screaming "Stay late and sharpen me!" I am looking at pencils that say, "We are ready for tomorrow."

Now I can already hear some of you, "But some kids just can't use mechanical pencils." And you are correct. Some kids cannot. This is my second year using mechanical pencils and I have one kids who cannot use a mechanical pencil. So I have to keep yellow pencils for him. I coerce beg a parent to sharpen a dozen pencils every month or so. Much better than hundreds of pencils a day, don't ya think? The key is to give proper training and procedures.

Here are some of my rules:
-Students must put their mechanical pencil back in the pencil block at the end of each day. This allows me to quickly do an inventory or add lead when necessary.

-Students are issued a pencil at the beginning of the year and again after winter break. If you break or lose your pencil in between, you have to use yellow pencils or buy a new one from the class store for a hefty price. (I have not had a single student lose their pencil! It helps that I put their student number on the pencils with sharpie.)

-You can only use the mechanical pencils that I provide for you. The reason I do this is because I get a separate brand of pencils for myself and the small group table. I can easily tell if a kiddo has walked off with one of MY pencils. It also forces them to be more careful.

-I will only replace lead once per month. If you run out before that time, you will have to buy lead from me for a hefty fine. (I give them enough lead to last a month as long as they are not playing with the lead. This year, I asked parents for lead donations.)

Storage:
I am loving the pencil block that my husband made for me! It is just a block of wood with holes drilled into the top. I numbered the holes so that it is easy for me to see what pencils are missing. I added some letter stickers to the front and now it is cute and functional.



Now for fun...help me finish my story! 

If you give a student a pencil...they will want to sharpen it.

If  a student sharpens their pencil...

post signature

17 comments:

  1. They'll break the sharpener! Lol!
    Thank you for the great idea!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What about the erasers? Do you have to replace those as well?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great question! Students keep a big eraser in their pencil box. Also, the pencil cap erasers still work with mechanical pencils.

      Delete
  4. Great idea! I have hundreds of pencils sharpened and ready to go.....might last a few days, lol!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love this idea! I was already going to give the kids both for their pencil pouch and just collect them once a week, but I kind of love just using mechanical pencils. I'm also teaching 3rd grade this year so this may just work!

    ReplyDelete
  6. If a student sharpens a pencil...
    next line:
    They will want to write a story.

    ReplyDelete
  7. My kids love using mechanical pencils, they feel so grown up! Watch out for the one or two that always click out all the lead or snap the tip while they're writing. There's always one. They figure it out eventually though :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love this idea, but I'm one of those people that CAN"T use mechanical pencils! I exaggerate. A little. I always break mechanical pencils! I'm going to have to decide if I want to try this next year. Maybe I can practice with mechanical pencils to get myself ready!
    Jan
    Laughter and Consistency

    ReplyDelete
  9. This year I gave my second graders ink pens! I don't have to sharpen or replace leads!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I absolutely love this post because I too have been struggling with the pencil sharpener woes. My regular sharpener eats pencils quickly and since I am the only one allowed to touch the electric one, I was starting to think that's all I do is sharpen pencils. Great idea indeed! Thanks for this post!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have never been a big fan of mechanical pencils for my students, but after reading your post I might try it next year :-) It seems that my students/pencil sharpener always seem to "eat" the regular yellow pencils. What is your high cost for replacing pencils/leads?

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am going to start using mechanical pencils this year and am super stoked. I just have one question that I have search the internet land for and failed to find an answer. How much lead do they receive a week/month?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of my kids need 2-3 pieces per month. But this will vary based on the pressure a student uses when writing.

      Delete
  13. I have used the thicker lead pencils with lower elementary and it was very successful. They are 1.3mm vs. .9 or .7mm. Plus the pencil barrel is significantly larger. It's triangular shape also helps with pencil grip. I love the idea of the block, you can do a quick scan several times a day and be on top of it. LOVE IT!

    ReplyDelete
  14. What kind of drill bit for the holes and size of block did you use?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I just put a pencil up to the drill bits and chose the size just slightly larger than the pencil.

      Delete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...