Pencils

Discussion in 'General Education Archives' started by kamteach5, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. kamteach5

    kamteach5 Rookie

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    Has anyone had it with the quality of pencils and pencil sharperners? The pencils my students buy at the store are made of recycled materials and do not sharpen in any pencil sharpener that I have found. The lead in the ticonderogas my district buys is soft and breaks and does not last. The pencils also do not sharpen well. Does anyone else think that quality is an issue?
    This seems like such a minor detail but it seems to be all consuming these days.:( :eek:
     
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  3. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    I feel your pain! It gets unbelievably frustrating when the pencils constantly need to be sharpened because they keep breaking or when a student shreds the pencil to about an inch long because it just won't sharpen. I wish I had an idea for a really good brand, but I've had the same issue as you.

    By the way--Welcome to AtoZ! :)
     
  4. kamteach5

    kamteach5 Rookie

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    Oh I am so glad to hear it is not just me:)
     
  5. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    No, definitely not just you!
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Hm. Can anyone recommend a really good brand of #2 pencil? And can we all gang up on the office supply stores and mass-market merchandisers to get them to carry the good pencils?
     
  7. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    The typical pencil available today certainly doesn't seem to be the quality of the typical pencil available when I was a child. I guess it is due to globalization and the increasing price of fine, straight grained wood. But kids even broke the lead on pencils all the time when they had the good stuff. And some kids had trouble sharpening them because they could not keep the pencil straight in the sharpener, sometimes just because they used the wrong size hole.

    FWIW I bought a bunch of Pentech Focus No. 2 pencils at the start of the school year at my local supermarket for about $.05 a piece. The wood is not particularly hard and the leads are not always perfectly centered. But they sharpen just fine ane don't break when I use them.
     
  8. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Cool - I'm always on the lookout for good tools for test takers. Bic sells some 0.9 mm mechanical pencils for kids, with nice spongy grips, that are excellent.
     
  9. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I hate pencils, any kind of pencils, regular, mechanical, I hate them. I encouraged my students to use pens. In fact, I would not accept essays done in pencil.

    Pencils were good to fill in bubbles, and nothing else, in my room.

    I lied: I let them use pencils to diagram sentences.

    Did I mention that I hate pencils? PENS rock.

    I suppose if your students are really young, a pencil is best, but mine were in the sixth grade and up, and I would not allow them to use a pencil in my classroom.
     
  10. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    When the Big Test requires pencils, there just isn't much choice, ma'am.
     
  11. Beth2004

    Beth2004 Maven

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    Oh, pens for writing assignments and things is fine, but definitely not for Math. For things like that they need to be able to erase.
     
  12. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Pencils with good erasers work much better than pens for math. Have you ever seen a math midterm written in ink by a typical student? It is hard enough to follow their work without having to work you way through a maze of crossed out work.

    Mechanical pencils with the original 0.9 mm lead might be a good choice for most students. The lead is large enough that it won't break all the time like the newer, smaller ones. But there are problems. They cost more than wood pencils and aren't any less likely to disappear. And keeping lead and erasers in them can be a problem.

    There used to be a saying: "What this world needs is a good five cent cigar." Now I guess it is a good five cent pencil.
     
  13. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    Wow, I like ticondarogas (sp?) I think they sharpen and erase better than anything else I have seen! I have learned to never let the kids sharpen pencils.....I do it a few days a week...I just keep a basket on each table so if one breaks, there are plenty more to write with....
     
  14. kinderkids

    kinderkids Virtuoso

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    Back when I was in school (a century ago........teehee) my teachers required that we use pencil on ALL of our work! If we used ink, we were downgraded. The only exception was on a final draft of a paper for English or History. It could either be written neatly in ink, or typed. That was the only time work we turned in could be done in ink.
     
  15. kamteach5

    kamteach5 Rookie

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    Have you ever seen a fifth grade boy write with an ink pen? Have you ever seen his papers when he is done? It is a major mess. Oh there are a few who can handle it, but the majority are just not ready for ink. I don't allow ink except for special occasions.

    Good to hear from all of you. Thanks
     
  16. kamteach5

    kamteach5 Rookie

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    I used to feel that way to but this year the quality is not what it used to be. I often say those that created mechanical pencils and the quality of these pencils should have to spend a week in the classroom.
     
  17. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Oh, gee, talk about old times... I remember when I was in elementary school, I had to use a fountain pen for essays and reports. We weren't even allowed to use ball point pens. I think it was partly the nuns being old fashioned and the fact that they made a profit selling fountain pens at the school store. By then we had cartridge fountain pens, but people still wound up with a pocket full of ink from time to time. Thank god for Bic and the affordable ball point pen. It is cheap, reliable and disposable.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    The absolute best pencils by far are DIXON TICONDEROGA. The leads are always true center. (I can't stand when you sharpen a pencil and the lead is off center- you can sharpen all day and not get a point)
     
  19. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    My favorite pencils come from Office Depot, and they sell them under their own name. They come in a gross (144). They sharpen well in an electric pencil sharpener, and it is fairly rare that I come across one that doesn't have a usable lead in it. They are very cheap, too.

    The erasers are okay, but I buy "click erasers" for my students, so I don't spend all my time fixing "smeared" erasures. We do LOTS of tests on bubble sheets, and the tiniest smear from the eraser will make the machine score it as incorrect. I usually break off all of the regular pencil erasers, so the kids don't accidently use them on a scan sheet. Then they HAVE to use the click erasers. They erase beautifully. (Pentel Click Erasers)
     
  20. djmondi

    djmondi Comrade

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    I sharpened a pencil for one of my students a few weeks ago - there was not any lead in it! I have an electric sharpener and we kept checking it - there was NOTHING! (It started off as a brand new pencil too!)
     
  21. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Stay away from American Eagle pencils! They are really cheap and my school buys them in bulk. I HATE them. They won't sharpen, they are never centered. All you get is short pencils with wood blocking the lead from writing. I get lots of freebie pencils from workshops and use those mostly. I haven't had to buy any in a while (that's the thing about being a volunteer with most of the state organizations, they give me stuff!) At the moment I have a plastic shoebox full of state parks and Ag pencils, I'm pretty sure there are some Animal Tracks, etc in there. For the most part They are good pencils and do well. This latest round of American Eagle pencils through the school were especially bad. Every other one seemed to split in half. Then of course there are the holiday pencils that you buy, they never seem to sharpen either. :( I have a top loading electric sharpener that we use for the most part. It's not perfect, but pretty good.
     
  22. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    I concede that pencils would be good for math. Math, standardized tests, and little kids. But for older students, essays must be either typed or written in ink. Black ink. I have only taught 6th grade and up, so I can't speak for little kids. I would not accept an essay written in pencil; it would be inexcusable at the secondary level.

    I don't even take stuff written in BLUE ink. It has to be black.

    Black. The color of legality.
     
  23. ITeach4Him

    ITeach4Him Comrade

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    I agree that the Ticondaroga is the best pencil and I buy them for myself as well. Also, I've used PaperMate brand pencils. The Ticondaroga is made of wood without the plastic coating that is on some of the "cutesy" pencils that are sold at different holidays. The plastic coating really messes up the electric sharpener!
     
  24. wdwteach

    wdwteach Cohort

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    Paper Mate!! They Are My Favs.
     
  25. NCP

    NCP Comrade

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    I don't have any good pencil recommendations, but I have had a bad run of luck with cutsie pencils from Really Good Stuff. Both of my last two batches just get ground up because the lead breaks off in the eletric sharpener. I think the lead is broken all through the barrell. Too bad b/c I like their stuff!
     
  26. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Golly, Jane: even Miss Manners accepts blue-black ink!
     
  27. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I just compared a Penway made in China to a Papermate made in the U.S. that were sitting on my desk at home. Both wrote well, the Penway erased better, but the Papermate sharpened perfectly (in a Boston pencil sharpener).

    I have one pencil sharpener in my room that never seemed to work. I replaced it twice. Neither of those seemed to work well. I have concluded that there is something wrong with my outlet.
     
  28. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    And if it is like my school, it will probably take you 6 months just to have the guy come in, squat down (No More Crack!) and say Hmmmmmmm......
    Of course I only have 2 outlets so when one gets messed up, half my room doesn't work! :eek:
    I have an electric sharpener at my desk that they can use, and I had two of the schools sharpeners on the wall (unsure of brand, but cheap.) My mom gave me her old sharpener, the one that we had when I was a kid. It's an old manual sharpener with everything made out of metal, not aluminum. The name brand, if it was ever on there, has worn off after 30+ years of use, but it is the best!

     
  29. Mamacita

    Mamacita Aficionado

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    Miss Manners might, but I don't. And neither do businesses or universities, on their applications.

    Blue-black? That's better than blue, though.

    I've been on a lot of scholarship committees, too, and we don't even read the applications done in pencil or blue ink. Or the inevitable neon pink or glowing green, sigh. It means the student didn't follow the directions. Besides, a scholarship for someone who used a PENCIL? Absofrickenlutely NOT.
     
  30. MorahMe

    MorahMe Habitué

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    I have really good pencils at home, that I personally use for artwork, although that's not what their intended for. I can't remember what brand they are, but they are good, and I'm hard on my pencils.:D

    When I was in elementary school, we were only allowed to use pencils up to third grade, and in fourth, when our teacher was satisfied that our penmanship (in script) was good enough for her (and she was PICKY!), she gave us a pen as a present, and we were then required to do all work, except for math and government testing, in ink. We worked really hard to get our penmanship good enough for her, and wanted the pens so badly!;)
     
  31. DizneeTeachR

    DizneeTeachR Virtuoso

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    My 2 cents...Have you seen the triangle pencils...LOVE those the lead doesn't break easy & promotes hanging on to a pencil the right way...My 1st graders loved them!!!
     
  32. ilove2ndgrade

    ilove2ndgrade Rookie

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    The pencil issue drives me nuts, too!

    I talked my principal into buying me a "School Pro" electric pencil sharpener, and it has been great. (It even has an adjustable opening for different-sized pencils.) The company is really great about replacing it if something happens to it. (Mine has been knocked off the table twice and part of the receptable broke... they sent me a new one right away.) The motor has yet to burn out like other electric sharperners.

    I also bought a gross of little pencil sharpeners for the students to keep in their desks. (It was maybe $5 for them all... well worth it.) They can quickly and quietly take care of their sharpening needs with these if it's not appropriate to use the electric sharpener.
     
  33. 1stferg

    1stferg Comrade

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    I don't like the little pencil sharpeners. I saw a kid take the blade out of one and push it into the eraser end of his pencil. Then he used it to try to cut other kids. Fortunately I caught him before anyone got hurt. I was subbing in his room.

    Then another time, I saw a little girl put the sharpener in her mouth and rub her tongue on the blade. Still makes me shudder! That was after I had my own classroom. I don't let kids bring the little sharpeners to school anymore. I know they are not learning to use it and I should trust them with more responsibility. But it just doesn't work for me.
     
  34. ITeach4Him

    ITeach4Him Comrade

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    I had this problem too. 4th graders taking the blade out of the sharpener and playing with it. :eek: Just too scary for me!
     
  35. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Ok, my tongue is permantly rolled up after reading that! I don't let those in my room because of the noise and mess. Even the ones that "catch" the shavings aren't any good because they are always dropping them and making a mess. I never had those types of problems with them (taking the blades out, etc) but I'm just as glad not to have to worry about them!
     
  36. DaTeach

    DaTeach Comrade

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    I teach fourth grade. I have four electric pencil sharpeners paid for out of my own pocket. They will last about a year! We sharpen pencils before 8 and once again after lunch. The first person on each row sharpens all the pencils for his/her row. Students are to have 2 pencils at all times ( yeah, right!) Only about half of the class keeps 2 pencils.

    I stopped allowing students to sharpen their own pencils AND having all day access to pencils sharpeners because they would break out leads just to get up and go sharpen pencils. If they use those little personal sharpeners or mechanical pencils, they play with them ALL day. The pencils and the sharpening drives me crazy. I tried keeping a can of extra sharpened pencils so that students could swap one if theirs broke or they didn't have a spare! I ended up with all the little nubs, and they ended up with my pencils. At first, I thought those mechanical pencils were a great idea. Most of the students that use them click them all day long, or spend too much time putting in lead, taking out lead, putting in lead, taking out lead! It drives me crazy!!! If anyone comes up with a miracle solution (besides ink pens) clue me in!
     
  37. DaTeach

    DaTeach Comrade

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    Oh, and I forgot ! I buy those big fat pink erasers (Pink Pearl) and cut them in half for students. They erase better and don't smudge. We especially use them on testing days.
     
  38. Malcolm

    Malcolm Enthusiast

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    Only in half? I new a guy who started a job as a state auditor many years ago. First day, his supervisor gave him a No. 2 pencil, pulled out an eraser, cut it into quarters with his pocket knife, and gave him one quarter.
     
  39. kamteach5

    kamteach5 Rookie

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    I have been reading everybody's posts but have been so busy I haven't had time to reply. My students do haveindividual shapeners in their desks, and they are a little distracting but it isn't too bad. Nobdy has sharpened their tongue thank goodness. I don't think I will do individuals next year. I do have a school pro sharpener that the students do not use. I think I will buy another next year and that will be for student use. The regular sharpener is useless and I think it is because of the plastic and recycled pencils that are so commonplace today. The Dixon Ticonderoga pencils are the best of the brands I think but I think the quality is not what it used to be. I find more and more pencils do not have lead that is centered and you cannot sharpen them. Mechanical pencils send me around the bend. The students that should not have them are the ones that do. My top students never have pencil issues, but those struggling students they always have the pencil or mechanical pencils that give them nothing but something to distract them from whatever the rest of the class is doing. And those students with the worst handwriting that I have written about in another post always seem to have the worst pencils.

    Wow-did I need to vent or what. It has been a crazy week.
     
  40. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    Regarding this topic of pencils, I just finished student teaching in this 3rd grade class & the kids had to sharpen their pencils quite a bit in my opinion. The type of sharpener, which you spin by hand didn't sharpen that well, so I don't know if it was the quality of the sharpener or the pencils that was no good.

    Once, I suggested to the kids to come to class in the morning w/ 3-4sharpened pencils, then when one gets dull, they have another & don't have to keep getting up to sharpen one pencil. I don't know how many of them took my advice though. That's definitely something I'll stress when I get my own class at the beginning of the year.
     
  41. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Ha! Get this-I am lucky (ahem) enough to have 3 outlets in my room-one is filled with the computers, so much so that the plugs look like Clark Griswold's from Christmas Vacation (is that a fire hazard?). The second is in the front of the room, about 6 inches from the ceiling (handy!), and the third is conveniently located in the back of a cabinet, at the back of the room. Some brilliant planning went into that electrical layout. NOT!!

    On the subject of pencils, has anyone ever had the color changing pencils from DARE? Of course, when the kids got them, everyone wanted to sharpen them right away, and they give off a pasty, gooey sort of muck that I still haven't gotten cleaned out of the only sharpener in the room! It looks like peanut butter with pencil shavings mixed in. Gross!

    OK, enough complaining. Quite honestly, I have 2 students who so rarely actually finish an assignment (and when they do it is illegible), that I would accept something written in anything! Chalk? Glitter and glue? Blood? Anything!

    what a long day...!
    kcjo
     

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