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! 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?????) 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?