Pencils?!?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by pwhatley, Jul 18, 2009.

  1. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 18, 2009


    This thread has probably already been covered elsewhere, but I thought it worth discussing.

    The very few students of mine that actually brought supplies last year (very urban, low income) brought (without fail) the cheapest, DollarTree-eque they could find. I understand that - been a VERY poor single mom and you do the best you can. That being said, after going through several sharpeners and being driven nuts all day with "Mrs. W, my pencil broke" (right after they got it), here are some of my ideas & thoughts. Please share your own!

    I hate cheap pencils! The leads (actually graphite) fall out - often with no provocation! :confused:

    For me, even worse are the "pretty" pencils with the plastic film-y wrap - they just jam up my sharpener! (Why do the schools choose THESE to sell in the pencil machines?????) :mad:

    If the leads didn't fall out or the films didn't jam, the cheap pencils' erasers would fall out!

    Eventually I decided that my students would use Dixon pencils exclusively. I prefer the Ticonderoga pencils, but in a pinch, any Dixon (the manufacturer) will do. The triangle Dixons were "okay." The large-barreled "beginner" pencils were great, and the regular-sized Ticonderoga pencils stood head-&-shoulders above the cheapie pencils my students brought. This is mainly because (a) their barrels are made of real wood and not sawdust and (2) theirs is a better-quality graphite.

    Also, rather than have my students sharpen their own, I had "community" pencils. On my teacher table there was one bin labeled "sharp pencils" and one labeled "to be sharpened." Students just swapped pencils out when needed. I also had community erasers after a while - I just bought the (not pretty) big pink erasers (and wrote my initials on them with a sharpie). Students who needed to borrowed and returned them each day. Saved a lot of fighting ("she's got my eraser!") and kept me from pulling my hair out!

    These are just my thoughts & experiences. What are yours?

     
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  3. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Jul 18, 2009

    Target sells a $5 battery operated pencil sharpener that seems to be able to handle the cheapest pencils I can stick in it.

    They're a bit fragile, but when I got three of them at the start of the year, in May two still worked. I generally do not allow students to use it.

    They're also small enough to fit in the pockets of my CARGO PANTS so that if kid raises their hand, I can walk over and take care of their pencil for them.
     
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 18, 2009

    Good thinking, Sarge.

    When Staples and Office Depot and all the others have their back-to-school sales (especially the 1 cent sales), stock up. It isn't worth worrying about kids buying the right ones, to me.
     
  5. Ron6103

    Ron6103 Habitué

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    Jul 18, 2009

    Although I teach high school, I faced a similar problem. Several students in each class period would simply have no supplies... and it wasn't occasional forgetfullness, no, they didn't own any. Period.

    At first I tried to just not worry about it, and let students borrow what they needed, and promise to give it back. However, I found that I didn't get back most of my pencils. They just kept them. GRRRR. This year, I'm going to hold onto their ID cards for a pencil.
     
  6. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    I didn't have the kids buy the good ones, lol - I did! (Of course, that's one reason I'm so broke this summer!)
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Jul 18, 2009

    Nana,
    I also outlaw "fancy pencils" because they do gunk up my sharpener. I also do community pencils.

    I'd like to share something with you though. Don't bother with those pink pet erasers.

    Buy pentel polymer. They come in a three pack (sometimes they have the name pentel on them, sometimes they are generic) but they sell them at walmart and they aren't expensive. They are the best erasers every made! The completely erase bubble sheets without a single smudge or smear! If the kids don't poke or jab their pencils into them or color on them with the pencil (I do a lot of modelig on how to treat my erasers) then they last for years!

    I keep a basket of these on my desk for students to borrow, and at the end of the day I have a student who goes around and picks up all pencils and puts them in the "to be sharpened' container and another student who gathers all the block erasers and puts them back into the basket. I've found that if I don't get them back each day, they disappear or get mis-used.

    This link has a picture of the eraser I'm talking about. http://jonlandrum.wordpress.com/2006/08/16/the

    They are fabulous -- just fabulolus.
     
  8. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    Jul 18, 2009

    Staples has a battery operated sharpener on sale this Sunday for free after rebate. Might be worth grabbing a few
     
  9. lteach2

    lteach2 Cohort

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    Jul 18, 2009

    I hear ya. Those pencils have killed so many of my sharpeners. The $5 Target one was dead in no time. My $25 one from Office Max lasted about 3 months. The $50+ sharpeners are the only ones that seem to withstand about a year or more with the way we were going through pencils. I think we killed 4 sharpeners this year. But I am doing the same "community" thing for pencils and just sharpen them every day and have several at each group of desks in the pencil bin this year. I am tired of the constantly broken pencils and dead sharpeners.
     
  10. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 18, 2009

    I forgot to mention - I sharpen all of the pencils each evening before I go home, place a "fresh" pencil on each desk, and the rest are in my "sharp pencils" community box. Oops, correction - most of the time last year, my hubby sharpened my pencils! Wasn't that sweet??
     
  11. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Jul 18, 2009

    :clap:

    BEST. ERASER. EVER.

    I became a convert this past year as well. I picked some up before our state writing exam, because I was sick of those pink ones smearing everywhere. One of my students accidentally started writing his rough draft in the answer booklet, and my proctor almost had a heart attack. I whipped out the white eraser and ALL WAS SOLVED. Not a smudge in the book, and this kid was one of those that presses down a lot.

    I buy an electric pencil sharpener from Staples, and that handles most pencils, even the cutesy ones. It does mangle the cheap pencils, though. I know I'm in the minority on this but, honestly, when I give prizes I often give out mechanical pencils. I keep a whole bunch of lead from Costco on hand. I'd rather give kids a piece of lead or two than listen to the pencil sharpener...hand-powered or electric, especially when they're battling one of those cheap pencils. I teach them how to make sure the lead is not so long that it will break right away.
     
  12. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    Jul 18, 2009

    This is the reason why I stocked up on the penny pencils from staples. My staples was selling the dixon brand pencil 8 packs for a penny each last week.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Jul 18, 2009

    I, too, love Dixon Ticonderoga. :)
     
  14. shasha379

    shasha379 Devotee

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    Jul 18, 2009

    I do not allow lead pencils in my room. The broken pieces stain up the floor, and students fight over lead all day, but I completely understand not wanting to hear the pencil sharpener.
     
  15. msmullenjr

    msmullenjr Devotee

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    Jul 18, 2009

    I also prefer the mechanical pencils. I actually give each student two at the beginning of the year and I buy a ton of refills from studentsupply.com I go over the rules on the first day of school about not messing or playing with them. If someone gets on my nerves with the pencils, They have to use a big fat Kinder pencil for two day. Mean but effective. I have no issues with it.
     

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