Pencil Sharpening Conundrum

Discussion in 'Substitute Teachers' started by elle_see, Sep 8, 2010.

  1. elle_see

    elle_see New Member

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    Sep 8, 2010

    I'm very, very new to substitute teaching and still trying to get my feet under me when it comes to classroom management.

    This may be a really stupid question, but I've yet to figure out the best way to handle this situation. It never ceases to amaze me how many pencils these kids manage to break in a two hour period! And if ALL of them need to sharpen their pencils before class, we've lost a good 20 minutes of teaching time. If one student breaks three pencils and needs to sharpen one, the grinding noise completely disrupts the rest of the class. One teacher I subbed for solved this problem by keeping a box of pre-sharpened pencils on hand, but none of the others have had this available.

    So, any suggestions for taking care of pencils? Have a set time in which to sharpen? Take in my own supply? Make a student who's lost recess time stay in to sharpen a batch? Help!
     
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  3. azure

    azure Companion

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    Sep 8, 2010

    A lot of elementary rooms I've been in lately usually have a supply of sharpened pencils, and when the kids need one they just come up to the little basket and trade their broken/dull pencil for a sharp one. They put the dull ones in one little tray or cup and the sharpened ones are in another tray or cup. You would need a lot for a whole day. I always try to sharpen the ones in the dull cup before I leave and sometimes even at the lunch break. I also begin telling the kids to get their pencils sharpened as they enter in the morning and before the bell rings. I tell them there will be no pencil sharpening after the bell rings, and I think a lot of teachers have that rule. Some just have the rule no sharpening when the teacher is teaching, but they can sharpen them during work time. I don't like that because they all use that as an excuse to get out of their seats.

    I sub in an inner-city district and parents do not keep their kids supplied very well after the beginning of the year. Some parents even think it's the schools responsibility to supply paper & pencils because afterall, it's supposed to be free education!
     
  4. oldstudent

    oldstudent Comrade

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    Sep 8, 2010

    Even among classrooms with equal demographics, there is a huge difference among sharpening habits from class to class.
    Some classes will not have a single student get up to sharpen a pencil all day. In other classes, it is a constant phenonmenon.
    It depends on the organization of the teacher.
    Many of those cups with the ostensibly sharpened pencils are either empty, or have dull pencils as well.
    I even used to send kids to the office to get a box.
    What I find works best is to bring in a small portable sharpener so the kids do not need to leave their seats.
    Also, when a student is finished early with an assignment, I will sometimes have them walk quietly around the room to sharpen dull pencils.
     
  5. waffles

    waffles Companion

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    Sep 8, 2010

    Honestly, I've contemplated telling the kids they're not allowed to sharpen just to see what would happen. One day when I'm in a class where I know the kids I might actually try it.
     
  6. jen12

    jen12 Devotee

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    Sep 8, 2010

    The pencil thing can drive you mad. If there is a pencil cup with dull pencils I'll make sure to sharpen as many as I can before school starts. Many elementary teachers won't let kids touch the sharpener because they either break them or spend all day in front of them. If you don't mind the kids doing it themselves, make sure you get clarification on the rules before you grant them permission to do it.

    I hate, hate, hate the sound of the sharpener. There tends to be enough noise in the room without the added grinding. If there is no visible supply of pencils for the students, I pull one (already sharpened) out of my personal supply and hand it to the student. I buy the cheapest packages I can, and an investment of maybe $5 saves me from the constant aggravation.
     
  7. waffles

    waffles Companion

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    Sep 8, 2010

    This may sound cheap or icky, but I have a giant collection of pencils that I've collected after the kids leave the room. Once you get to middle and high school you can get at least a couple pencils from every class.

    The good side of that is that when a kid needs a pencil I have no problem giving them one and letting them keep it since I didn't pay for it anyway.
     
  8. elle_see

    elle_see New Member

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    Sep 13, 2010

    Thanks for the suggestions! My roommate (who is a teacher) handed over part of her pencil supply the other day, so now I've got some I can keep on hand. I like the idea of getting a few of the little portable ones as well - at least those are quiet, so I wouldn't care how much time they spent with one!
     
  9. substitutesftw

    substitutesftw Companion

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    Sep 13, 2010

    I have two hand-held pencil sharpeners. I despise electronic sharpeners. They are too loud, and they often don't work by the end of the year. Hand-held ones are more practical, IMO, and cheap. While students are working, I'll usually grab the unsharpened and broken ones and sharpen them quickly, and keep them in a pile for students to grab when they need a new one.

    Often, I have to specify that you don't NEED to sharpen your pencil just because the point is slightly dull from writing two sentences. As long as you can still write with it, don't get up.


    Ha! Yes. You can clean up the room a little and have some supplies for later use. I'll try that.:cool:
     
  10. Miss Snix

    Miss Snix Companion

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    Sep 14, 2010

    I have the same problem. The room I'm currently in has an electronic sharpener and all it takes is for one child to get up and sharper and suddenly there is a big line for it. If their pencil is dull I tell them to sit down, and tell the others they are only allowed to use it once a day in the morning. Other than that they need to give it to me. If they are constantly bringing it to me I just say no and they need to find another one. A lot of them (currently in a yr one room) just do it to waste time and get off task.
     

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