Managing pencils

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by J. A., Sep 22, 2018.

  1. J. A.

    J. A. Rookie

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    I feel like this is something a lot of teachers struggle with, so I'd like some input on how to manage pencils! I think I've posted this before, but a lot of suggestions said not to provide them in the first place. First, WV state policy mandates that basic school supplies MUST be provided free of charge in the classroom, so refusing to provide pencils is not an option. Second, having a pencil-less student can lead to disruptions since they will be off task.

    I've tried buying the jumbo kindergarten pencils (I teach 6th and 7th grade ELA), and that cuts back on sharpening and breaking. I also "brand" them with hot pink duct tape hoping I'll see it and remember to collect them, but I still always forget. Any tips on how I can manage the pencil crisis?
     
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  3. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    I hand them a crayon if they don't bring a pen or pencil. They hate it so much they just ask a friend, or find a pencil some other way.
     
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  4. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    This is not a hill I wish to die on. If we run low, I send a note to the parents to send more pencils in. Someone will always send more.
     
  5. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I don't understand how they can mandate something that isn't provided?

    I've collected a ton of pencils from various places (for free) and my school only gave me about 10. I have a pencil cup near my bathroom sign out that kids can take from. I put about four in at the beginning of the year and the cup emptied this week. I will probably add more next week, but I also find a ton of pencils on the ground that I pick up and put in the cup. Since I have pencils now, I give them to kids who ask.

    If they are going through pencils and not keeping track of the ones that you give them, I would ask them to borrow one or use a colored pencil. Otherwise, I would designate a student to handle pencil sign outs (ex. a "pencil king or queen."). They need to write the borrower's names on the board and make sure that the pencils get returned.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
  6. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I’m not going to die on the pencil hill.

    I bought two gross of personalized pencils with my name on them. I have pencil grippers on the wall that keep five pencils out for use. I also have a bucket of “floor pencils” that get left behind. We don’t sign them out. If they are gone, they are gone.
     
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  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I, too refuse to make my stand over pencils. I shop Ebay for the best prices, have no problem asking thrift stores if they will donate used pencils for my kids, and I never let a pencil on the ground go to waste. I manage to buy pencils and pens dirt cheap simply because I am a vigilant shopper, but I also don't waste them. I only put a limited number in the pencil container, because if they see the container full, they assume that they can take the pencil with them to the next class.I tend to hand out pencils as they enter the room, and collect them before the bell rings. I don't stress over it - I have bigger fish to fry!
     
  8. Teacher234

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    I have 12 students and 12 pencils. Each student is given a pencil and are instructed to not touch the pencil container. My aide or myself will pass out a pencil and collect them immediately after an activity. I do, however, give a crayon to one of my students because this student will only write using crayon....
     
  9. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    Sep 23, 2018

    This is also not a hill I wish to die on. I buy pencils in bulk when they're on sale. Then I just replenish as needed. Honestly though, most of my kids would rather just ask a friend so I don't go through them very quickly. I keep pens and highlighters out too, and those go a bit faster. It still doesn't bother me though.
     
  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    I should probably be clear that I work in a private school dealing with the EBD population. They bring nothing. The school provides some money for supplies, but like others have noted, it is never enough. Most of my pencils are consumed by random acts of destruction, or students removing them from class, almost like a trophy. I never give my students pens because they tend to be used in ways not intended, and none of them are good. I could rail against the situation, or adapt my actions and accept that this is my reality. I have chosen the latter.
     
  11. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    I don’t ever buy pencils or pens — never have or will — because my students leave them in my class EVERY single day. I finally gave up in year 2 about reminding students to remember to pick up their pencils when they leave and now I just keep a container on both sides of the classroom with student pencils and pens in them. If a student needs something to write with, they know to go and look in the containers for it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2018
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  12. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    Sep 23, 2018

    I'm elementary, so take my words with a grain of salt, but I've found that my not making something a big deal / even mentioning it aside from basic expectations, ensuring that there's a easy-to-use system in place (I have a sharp pencil bin and a dull pencil bin, and sharpen them after school each day. We're 3 weeks in, and there's the same number of pencils despite them being used tons), and then addressing individual situations privately, that there doesn't seem to be much of an issue. I spend about 20 seconds a day on pencil management, and that's literally the sharpening of them at the end of the day.

    Sounds like me in high school: I amassed a huge collection of mechanical pencils and never had to buy one, because I found them on the ground all the time!
     
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  13. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Exactly this, haha! Students leave them everywhere!
     
  14. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I have tried so many things, and while they all worked for a while, nothing really worked on the long run, because I got tired of it, was not consistent or the kids got tired of it.
    I would say the best thing that worked was when I bought pencils at Walmart that were neon colors. No other teacher has used those pencils, so I could look around and see who had my pencil. This way I could just tell the kids, if they got one, please give it back and they did. I think a lot of time they keep pencils because they forget it's not theirs, they're lazy, or because their other teacher wouldn't give them one (I had kids return pencils at the end of the day).

    The only problem was that I had 60-80 students, and the cost added up, especially since they were kinda soft and sharpened down very fast. So after 2 months I just stopped and gave them regular pencils and then all the problems started again.

    Our school states that we provide everything, including pencils, so how do you require them to bring some? I would say 20 % of the kids brought pencils.

    The only thing I can think of is to buy enough from school teacher budget to last a long time and don't really worry about it.
     
  15. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Like others, Pencil Hill 305 is not the hill I'll take my last stand on. I have a container of various pens and pencils that students leave and it never gets empty. Mechanical pencils are really popular at my school, so I do keep pt7 lead on hand for those. I buy it bulk for cheap. And I almost always have a pack of bulk pens that I like.
     
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  16. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Haha, love the first sentence!

    I love mechanical pencils, too, and despise pencils that require you to sharpen them.

    I have so many pencils and pens from students it’s getting ridiculous. This year alone, I’ve collected almost 50! The highest I’ve had in any one year was almost 500 and my current collection is in the several hundred. If I weren’t such a conservationist, I would just toss them, but I’d rather they be put to good use and utilized.
     
  17. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Ugh....hill people drive me crazy though. My former principal....every time a staff member brought him an issue...ANY ISSUE....his response was almost always "that's not a hill I'm going to die on...." Code for: don't feel like dealing with that, you figure it out. New principal is much better.
     
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  18. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    Mine are in an upcycled silverware tray. But I don't keep that many.
     
  19. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    That is exactly what that means. And when I say it in regards to pencils is a "Your responsibility, not mine. You figure it out. "
     
  20. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    The first week of school I put out a pencil cup and it stayed full for two weeks because all of the kids brought pencils. The cup has rapidly emptied this week and I've noticed more and more kids not bringing pencils!! Most of them just borrow from each other and it's fine but I'll be putting out a few more every week.
     
  21. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I have never been in a situation where pencils were a worry. They've always been plentiful. And this crop of kids is super excellent about pencil use.
     
  22. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    This is just like the other school supply thread. The school needs to provide the pencils NOT the teacher. If you have provided pencils and they disappear then it's on them. When students feel entitled to certain things from the teacher most of them won't really take care of the items because they think they'll just ask for more. How is it your fault that they lose them or forget them?
     
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  23. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I'm in the "not a hill I want to die on" camp. If a student doesn't have something to write with, they aren't able to participate and they miss out on the learning for the day. If I send them around to borrow from others, not only do they miss out on learning, but they disrupt the learning of others. I put out one or two pencils for each student on the first day of school, then I have a bin of extras; the majority of the "extras" are not new, I easily pick up 5 or 6 every day from the floor of the classroom or the hall floor (especially once the caretakers have swept out the rooms!).
     
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  24. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I have been known to amuse myself with the hypothetical of a situation of a school such in the habit of teachers providing this and that and what would happen if the teacher just flat-out refused or even gave inarguable reasons why she just couldn't purchase that at this time. Really, what would the school do?
     
  25. TeacherNY

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    They can't do anything. They would have to step up.
    I do remember my first day of middle school I was so nervous that I forgot to put a pencil/pen in my backpack. I borrowed one the girl sitting next to me. It didn't occur to me to complain to the teacher that I didn't have a pencil!

    I have a student in my self contained autism class that needs food to reinforce good behaviors. The case worker told me to give her goldfish when she followed directions. Ok, lady, just let me know where I can get my hands on some goldfish and we'll do it! Sometimes you just have to ask because there are people who do assume you will just go out and buy stuff yourself. It's easier for them that way.
     
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  26. CharRMS

    CharRMS Companion

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    When it comes to pencils, I tell my kids the first day of school that I don't provide pencils. I always have a few that ask, and I remind them that I don't provide pencils (sometimes it is hard to tell them no because I want to help them). When they ask, I remind them of the ways they can get a pencil to use in class.
    1. The borrow cup: I stocked it with four pencils at the beginning of the year, and now I stock it with pencils found around the room and the hallway. The kids will even find pencils and put them in the cup. I'll replenish every once in awhile.
    2. Borrow from a friend or team member.
    3. Write with something else. They can write with a coloring pencil, pen, or crayon, which are provided from them in their team caddies.
    For the most part, kids are resourceful with finding something to write with. If I did have to provide pencils, I would ask around for misprint pencils or maybe even try golf pencils.

    My first year, I kept up with a pencil cup for kids to borrow from, but it turned in to me buying pencils constantly, and I was tired of always spending money on pencils only to find them broken and scattered on the floor. However, I did, and still do buy pencil lead refills and cap erasers and give them out when they are needed.
     
  27. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    Agreed. If we continue to fund our classrooms, districts will have no incentive to do so.
     
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  28. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    I gave a kid a pencil today only to find it broken on the floor at the end of class.
     
  29. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    :(
     
  30. Lisabobisa

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    Golf pencils.A pack of 144 for 5 bucks.
     
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  31. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    This is a nice idea, but in California, at least, we are required by law (Williams Act) to provide necessary supplies as part of a free public education. Some schools provide supplies for teachers, but others just provide a supply budget and it's up to the teacher to order supplies, including pencils. If you teach in a high SES school, you never end up worrying about it, because 99% of the kids bring their own, and the rest is donated by the parents. If you work in a low SES school, you will never have enough of anything, ever.
     
  32. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Connoisseur

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    ^
    I teach in a low-income school and I had some kids destroy or hide (not sure which) a tissue box in my room. I've also given kids a pencil to find it broken on the floor later. It seems like kids just don't respect supplies.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2018
  33. Camel13

    Camel13 Rookie

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    This is a weird one for me. Last year, I ran out of pencils all the time from the borrowing cup. Lectured students about it. Some donated a ton. Gone right away. I started collecting a shoe from a student if they needed to borrow for an hour. They thought it funny but it worked. This year I bought personalized pencils and put in caddies at the tables. Floor pencils are in a cup and they have stayed full so far all year. A few of the others have ended up in other teacher’s rooms but brought back by do-gooders. Not sure what shaped the change, but all is good now!
     
  34. TeacherNY

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    If it wasn't such a liability for the teacher, I think trading their phones (which they don't need to have in class) for a pencil would be the way to go.
     
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  35. J. A.

    J. A. Rookie

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    Some good ideas. Lately I have been "flagging" them with hot pink duct tape and writing a number on the tape's flag with Sharpie. However, the numbers somehow fade? I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume their palm sweat rubs it off when they turn it upside down to erase. I'm determined to win this war. lol. I used my instructional funds to order a gross of pencils, and I have plenty that the former teacher left. Still... they go fast. Anyway, during bellringer time, I quickly write on the dry erase board the student's name and the pencil # in their hand. It works okay, but when the numbers fade or I forget to collect them during a class change, it's pointless. (get it?)
     
  36. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    This may seem strange, but I just let the students keep the pencils that they take from the writing containers in my classroom because there are so many of them added each day that I quickly run out of space to put more in. It’s getting ridiculous just how many pencils my high school students leave around. I still can’t figure out why my students bring so many to class. I’d think having one and a spare would be plenty, but they have entire pencil-pouches filled to the brim almost and it seems like they just leave their contents in my room after they leave, lol!
     
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  37. Aces

    Aces Habitué

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    I'm with you on this one. I don't make any effort to monitor or maintain the pencil tray really at all other than to put ones in it I find. If I get too many, I toss em in file 13.
     
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  38. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Send them to me, please -- I never have enough! :)
     
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  39. futuremathsprof

    futuremathsprof Aficionado

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    Haha, yes!
     
  40. RussianBlueMommy

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    There is always the option of going to various (free) expos, festivals and such and getting freebie (promo) pens and pencils. I have accumulated hundreds doing this!! A lot of the time, I will simply ask nicely and explain I'm a teacher and the person working the booth will load me up.
    Police departments, volunteer fire departments all seem to have tons of pencils for free (they usually say 911 on them or such). Bank pens!
     
  41. TeacherNY

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    If it were that easy then parents would be doing this to get the pencils for their kids so teachers wouldn't have this ridiculous problem in the first place. Apparently, it's too much trouble for them to go to the dollar store to buy pack of pencils much less go hunting around for free ones.
     

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