Losing my mind over PENCILS!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by lacombk191, Nov 15, 2016.

  1. lacombk191

    lacombk191 New Member

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    Nov 15, 2016

    I am at the end of my rope over pencils. That's right. PENCILS. It's only November and I've dipped into my own pencil stash heavily. I will sharpen 10-15 pencils to put in the "take a pencil, leave a pencil" jar on Monday, and by Monday afternoon there are two little stubs left in the jar. Then, by Tuesday, I have students coming to me telling me they don't have a pencil!! Are they eating them?!
    This is my first year in a classroom, and I am completely blown away by how little tedious things like this get in the way of our day! Any ideas or suggestions you have to help combat this problem would be appreciated!! Help!
     
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  3. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Nov 15, 2016

    I'm going to confess: pencils is one of the donated items in my school, and I think I finally got through the stash that was there when I moved into the classroom almost three years ago. So... pencils have yet to be a real worry for me.

    What I do is I put most of the responsibility for the pencils on the students. I'll pull from the stash now and then to refresh the supply, but otherwise they keep them with their supplies and are generally in charge of sharpening them. There's a few kids with obsessive personalities who can't handle the sharpening (one of my ADD kids said the sharpening makes his brain feel better, but would otherwise sharpen all day long) but I generally find the responsibility keeps the pencil sharpening in check.

    I also refuse to have a personal pencil stash. I'm not there yet and probably never will be, but I would simply send home family reminders if the class pencil stash (if that's what you have) is getting low. If your kiddos are in charge of bringing their own pencils, well, I personally don't feel I have to go to great lengths to ensure pencils are in the classroom. I know one philosophy urges teachers to always make sure there are pencils to give out, but I just don't see that ever being a mental priority for me.

    Now, I do keep a couple of jars by the pencil sharpener that I make some attempt to keep up with a "quick grab" pencil, but if it's out, I just tell the kids to check their pouches or ask a neighbor.

    Trust me, there are probably plenty of pencils in the room.
     
  4. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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  5. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    Nov 15, 2016

    Do something to make the pencils from your stash distinct from the kids' own, and collect them back at the end of the class/day from every kid who borrows. I suggest washi tape on the end by the eraser or getting ones that have a colored ferrule. Or, if they use folders/binders in your class, do what my elementary music teacher did and make pencil holders. She'd either cut two slits in the pocket of a paper folder so a pencil could be slipped in, or use tape to make a holding loop. If your kiddos are in one room all day, a holding loop could be put on the desks.
     
  6. Mrs. Pearson

    Mrs. Pearson Guest

    Nov 15, 2016

    This may be more of a hassle then a help but you can create a sheet to check the pencils out. When a student forgets his or her pencil and needs to borrow one, have them write down their name. You can also number the pencils (use a sharpie and write the number on each pencil). Have the student write the pencil number they borrow. Then when they return the pencil have them record that it is returned. At the end of the day, you'll be able to see which pencil numbers are missing and who checked them out.
     
  7. fjaravata

    fjaravata Rookie

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    Nov 15, 2016

    My teacher wife and I actually made a podcast episode this which you find here.
     
  8. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    .
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2016
  9. juli233

    juli233 Companion

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    Nov 15, 2016

    We keep all the pencils in jars on the tables, when in this same grade one class last year with desks we had this same issue. If you keep the desks in pods or use tables the supplies are all communal and for some reason they seem to last longer and be kept in better shape. I also saw an idea to use large straws taped to the top of each desk and they keep the pencil slipped inside the straw.
     
  10. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Nov 15, 2016

    Have your students search desks, backpacks, cubbies, whatever spaces the students have that they could be stashing them. I supply new pencils every once in a while to our class containers, but the kids often put them in desks or notebooks without thinking about it so I make them all check their desks as part of our dismissal routine. Most of them end up with 3 or 4 pencils shoved in their desks all the way at the back, so you may just have some accidental hoarders.
     
  11. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Nov 16, 2016

    Miss-m.... I was going to say same thing....Do a good desk clean. I would say you have 10 mins to clean your desk....tons of pencils showed up. I also gave pencils for gifts or Halloween, Xmas & Valentine's day.

    When I was younger there was a paper mill near us...a man who worked there would give a gift bag for Halloween filled with a couple notebooks & pencils....just when you start to need them!!!
     
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  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Nov 16, 2016

    I pick up pencils off the classroom and hall floor after the students leave for the day and put them out for kids to borrow. I do choose, however, not to have pencils be a hill I want to die on. If a student needs a pencil, I find one for them (they are quite inexpensive on our supply order and I pick them up when I see them on sale somewhere).
     
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  13. XFruitloopsrusX

    XFruitloopsrusX Rookie

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    Nov 16, 2016

    I know it's late in the year but in the beginning of the year when students send in their supplies I put them all in a gallon bag with their name. I pull out four pencils for each student and they can keep them in their tool box. If they have tables (i'd give them their own spot to keep their supplies a cubby or something). If Jimmy needs another pencil I pull it from his bag. If Jimmy runs out of pencils I write home and ask let his parents know. I have pencil to give students on the spot but they use their own supplies not mine
     
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  14. Loomistrout

    Loomistrout Devotee

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    Nov 16, 2016

    Two possibles:

    1) Mentioned by others is to get a bunch of little golf scorecard pencils - they will often donate them to teachers - and put these in your extra container. Option- break regular pencils in half and use the grundgiest piece.

    2) Teachers who use Responsibility Training with PAT merely hold up a stopwatch when a student has no pencil or needs sharpening. The watch is a signal that if no one in the class supplies a pencil to missing student the watch starts and class is on minus PAT. Teachers report they never have to start the watch as kids scramble to find a missing a pencil. Option: Teacher Bonus - just after kids enter the room in the morning have them hold up their pencil(s). If all have a pencil extra time is added to PAT for the whole class. No penalty if someone does not have one. Option 2: Teacher Bonus - say you have a particular space cadet or a few. When leaving at the end of day and in front of the class tell him/her/them if he/she/they show up with two pencils in the morning he/she/they will earn the whole class X minutes of extra PAT. Again, if one or several don't have pencils there is no penalty.
     
  15. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Nov 16, 2016

    I hate pencils and I hate expo markers. Unfortunately both are used on a daily basis in my class. Even kinders who don't leave the classroom or leave their seats loose their pencils. Expo markers are running out of ink fast er than I can replace them. It is ridiculous!!!
     
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  16. Bunnie

    Bunnie Devotee

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    Nov 16, 2016

    Pencils were the one thing I couldn't figure out for a few years. Then I realized, just let them be responsible. Less headaches for me. I don't provide pencils at all. Or rather they mostly know I don't.

    Last year I had a kid that would shut down about not having a pencil and we tried teaching her to ask others around her, but she wouldn't. She was afraid too. After a while that was a battle not worth having EVERYDAY. So we gave her a pencil when we saw the signs that she didn't have one.

    They will survive if you put the responsibility on them to be prepared. I leave a few pencils out and around the room and they always get taken (I don't really care though) but pencils haven't been a problem since I invested in a good sharpener and took the responsibility of providing them.
     
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  17. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    Nov 16, 2016

    Mrs.C ... I did same thing & my kids would do same thing put it in the extra cup.
     
  18. lacombk191

    lacombk191 New Member

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    Nov 17, 2016

    Thanks for your responses! I'm glad it's not just me! I will try the tough love and placing the responsibility on them.
     
  19. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    They need to become responsible for their own pencils. I would not dip into my own stash. I like the idea of looking around for them. They are sure to find one at the bottom of their backpacks. Do you think they are taking them home and leaving them there? Do they have lockers (not sure what grade this is)? If it's still a problem I would notify parents (before they have a chance go to home and complain you're being mean about pencils) and remind them that their children need to be prepared for school and to look around at home to see if any pencils (that the teacher bought) were brought home.
     
  20. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    You know to with holidays coming up... you may say a great gift for something simple is some new school supplies... pencils, crayons, etc.
     
  21. Sharon J.

    Sharon J. Rookie

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    I agree! It's such a BIG pain point (no pun intended-lol!), but such a little thing as well. I have 2 cups- 1= "sharpen me"- these have student numbers written on the the top w/a sharpie & scotch tape covering the names 2= "borrow me"- these pencils have stickers that ID they are borrow pencils only. I'm the only when that sharpens pencils to make sure the sharpener lasts long. Sometimes kids will forget to return the borrow me pencils, so you need to get them to self-manage this routine so you won't pull your hair out! Maybe even doing a pencil check before they pack their backpack to go home? Kids can ONLY either have their own # pencil OR a borrow me pencil- you have to be stickler about it so that it doesn't run wild & it's manageable. Good luck!
     
  22. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I too hate Expo markers.

    This year, I don't care. Because I hated Expo markers, I did a Donorschoose project to get some little chalkboards. Later, I found a great deal on some white boards and bought them because Expo markers were on student supply list anyway. Though I have a little chalkboard fan group, the majority of the class prefers white boards and markers. We are going through markers.

    But... I don't care. When we run out of markers, I have chalkboards they can use

    It really takes a lot of pressure off of me.
     
  23. MissEducation

    MissEducation Companion

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    Look for donations. A parent donated a box of 500 pencils from her husband's now-defunct bowling alley. She was like, "Are you sure you want them even though they have ____ Lanes on them?" Um...YES! Lol.
     
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  24. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    I am a specialist, and the kids come to me for 30 minutes at a time so this may not work for you. I rip the erasers off the top of my pencils and keep a few chunky erasers on hand. They never take crummy pencils without erasers, but they always take the others. I just tell them I believe in using things as long as possible and not wasting them.

    When I had my own classroom, I would lend pencils but they had to give me collateral like a shoe or their binder or something. When I got my pencil back, their stuff was returned. I have also heard of teachers ordering pencils in gross with crazy or embarrassing things written on them so the kids wouldn't want to keep them. One teacher ordered two gross (288) pencils that said "I want to marry Justin Beiber!"
     
  25. phillyteacher

    phillyteacher Comrade

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  26. TeachCafe

    TeachCafe Comrade

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    I feel you. I was like this last year. Pencils were he bane of my teaching existence. I kept MANY from last year so I have a larger stash in the supply drawer.

    I have two tables of 4 and two tables of 6 students. I have student sharpeners and I keep 12 pencils at each table. When erasers die as they always do in about a week, I take the large, pink erasers and cut them into pieces. One piece for every student at the table. That way each student has an eraser nub. It works.

    At the end of each block, they make sure table 1 has 4 erasers, table 2 has six and so on. I replace pencils when they get to be truly nubs. Though mine like them small. They say it's a better grip.
     
  27. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    You know some classes do gifts for kids like bring in gender neutral gift. What if this year you based it in refreshing school supplies. Lol. Like pencils, erasers...
     
  28. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    :rofl:
     
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  29. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    This is a fine way to get pencils, but not every teacher has the time to make this a priority. it's unfair to say every teacher must provide all pencils.
     
  30. pdbinmd

    pdbinmd New Member

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    At my elementary school, students don't carry pencils.
    At the beginning of the year, pencils are on their supply lists, but for communal use. Each teacher gets a supply (and over the years, the school has built up a stash, so we don't run out). In every classroom, pencils are at student desks when they arrive. Extra sharpened pencils are kept in a central location in each classroom. At the end of the hour -- we are departmentalized -- students line up, leaving the pencils in the desks.
    I was skeptical when I started here, but I love it!
     
  31. Geneva

    Geneva New Member

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    I've seen on Pinterest where students have tape on their desk that fits the pencil. That way they have a specific, observable place to keep their pencil. The teacher across the hallway from me has made it part of her morning routine for students to replace their two pencils from their table with 2 fresh ones, that should last them all day.
    I have had a similar issue- not that I'm going through them too quickly (honestly, I'm still using the same bunch of pencils I took out at the beginning of the year). My issue is that students use the take one, give one as an excuse to get out of their seats. I know that students need movement to stay focused (especially with my group- they are a bunch of wiggle worms!), but I have had to make a couple of students have specific times they are allowed to refresh their pencils.
    It is also my first year teaching- good luck!
     
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  32. new2teach15

    new2teach15 Rookie

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    I had the same problem, I could put out 15 pencils a day and they would disappear. I decided to put flags on the pencils by the erasers and number them. I told them that if they turned the pencil in at the end of the week they could pick from the treasure box. I had all but 1 student turn their pencils in. They couldn't be broken or sharpened to the point of being too little (they get stuck in the sharpener). I didn't put out a single pencil all week.
     
  33. dcn

    dcn Guest

    Dec 5, 2016

    look up winning the pencil war on teacher pay teacher website. That is what I used and loved it.
     
  34. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    In the beginning of the year I would write the names of students on the board who took a pencil. The rule was that they had to give it back to me (in my hand, not say they put it on my desk), and then I'd erase their name. If they didn't, they had lunch detention.

    This worked pretty well (was extra work though), but later on I stopped doing it, one reason was that we no longer had detention, and even before that I got kinda lazy.
    I do have pencils disappear, but it's not as bad as I thought it would be.

    In the past I bought pencils (and got reimbursed) from Walmart that were super bright, and no one else had those pencils. Just one look around, and I could tell who had my pencils. Can't do that now, because we don't get reimbursed, we have to order, and I haven't seen anything this bright. If I had a choice, I would do it like this.
     
  35. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    There are many students who care for their pencils responsibly. When one of the other students needs a pencil, I hand a new pencil to the responsible student, take their old pencil and hand it to the student who needs one. That way, the new pencils always go to kids who take care of them. Irresponsible students only get used stubs until they change their behavior.
     
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  36. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    This may be the best system I've ever heard.
     
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  37. showmelady

    showmelady Companion

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    1. Make a rule that students must leave pencils on their desk, not in it.

    2. I sub. Whenever I go to a room I find the pencil exchange jars, and put them in a location where I can easily see students going to them. I take a quick look at them to be sure they are exchanging pencils.

    3. At the beginning of the day I always check to be sure that each student has a pencil to start out with. If they do not, I let them get one, but I make a note of their names and at the end of the day I get the pencils back. It opnly takes a minute or so, and I usually get all back.
     

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