the pencil problem

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pencil Monkey, Jun 20, 2010.

  1. Pencil Monkey

    Pencil Monkey Devotee

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    Jun 20, 2010

    I can't stand the sound of the pencil sharpener. It drives me INSANE.

    Anyway, I think my fifth graders next year might be mature enough to use erasable pens instead. Am I nuts?

    What are the foreseeable problems with this? has anyone tried this?
     
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  3. Touchthefuture

    Touchthefuture Comrade

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    Jun 20, 2010

    I have not tried that but was thinking those erasers wear done too and then you're in the same boat. Pens without erasers! Don't you enforce the pencil shapening at certain times only? If the need another pencil they swap it out for a aharpened one during the "no sharpening" time.
     
  4. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    When I taught 5th grade, I let them use mechanical pencils if they chose to. Also, I had a few "hand-held" sharpeners set next to the regular one in case they needed to sharpen during class.
     
  5. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    I teach second graders and I'm the only one who sharpens pencils. I keep a container of sharpened pencils and a container for dull pencils. They trade in their dull pencils for sharpened ones and I sharpen in the morning and after lunch.
     
  6. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    Ok, I admit to not using erasable pens since I was a kid... but have they changed since then? When I was a kid (not THAT long ago) it smudged all over the paper. It was bad for me, but I can't even imagine how bad it would be if I was left handed. In my experience, erasable pens were awfully messy.

    I hate the sound of a pencil sharpener, so I have made one of my classroom jobs "pencil sharpener". Only one person is allowed this job, and they can only do it before or after school. After that, pencils are swapped in and out.
     
  7. LiveNLearn

    LiveNLearn Comrade

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    I have a pencil sharpener in my room but it is never used during classtime. I have emergency pencils in a dull and sharp pencil bin. If a student needs a new pencil they must "leave one to take one". One class job is pencil maintenance and that student sharpens all the dull before or after classtime.

    I also have on the supply list to bring a small sharpener that has a cover for shavings. Then students don't have to share if they don't want to.
     
  8. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    This is what I did when I had the older and it works beautifully!!!!
     
  9. MrsHoot

    MrsHoot Comrade

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    My kids used mechanical pencils and the regular. Only difficulty was then they were interrupting to find more lead! I also had pencils already sharpened in a cup. They could only sharpen pencils in the morning, right before lunch, right after lunch, and at the end of the day.

    However, they didn't get into the routine very well.
     
  10. Starista

    Starista Cohort

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    Pencils are the bane of my existence. :D

    I teach second grade and they break, they're dull, they peel the yellow off them...

    My rule with my last year's class was: You may sharpen during before-school work. 3 second rule.

    Like many posters, I also have the sharp/dull exchange box!!

    Hope this helps!
     
  11. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Jun 21, 2010

    I hope this isn't hijacking, but here's a related question:

    How many pencils do you ask for on your supply list?
     
  12. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Jun 21, 2010

    Ours asks for 24 No.2 Dixon Ticonderoga presharpened pencils
     
  13. amakaye

    amakaye Enthusiast

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    Thanks, Lynnnn. Do you find that's a good amount for the year?
     
  14. WhatchaDoin?

    WhatchaDoin? Comrade

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    Jun 21, 2010

    When I taught second grade, I asked for one package of yellow pencils. Some kids brought the standard 12 pack, other over acheivers brought 36 packs. Then, of course, I had a couple who brought none, or sparkly unicorn ones.

    I provided the sharpener, so I was the only one to use it. Yellow pencils only, as the other finishes tended to really wear on my sharpener.

    I had a dull can and a sharp can - complete with words and pictures. The kids took two in the morning. Except for a few restrictions, most students were able to get up for another pencil when needed. I did have issues with one class not putting the pencils in the correct can, but I think it was just a quirk.

    As a substitute, I HATE the pencil sharpener. Just one more reason to leave a seat. As a substitute, I become the pencil sharpening person, and that usually puts an end to the sharpening. After 2 or 3 people, anyway.;)
     
  15. CiniMini

    CiniMini Rookie

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    Jun 21, 2010

    Okay I've seen a couple of 2nd grade teachers respond about the number of pencils. You've confirmed my suspicions that about our 2nd grade list. I'm moving up from 1st the 2nd and when I saw the 2nd grade supply list, I was appauled. They are asking for 5 packs of 24 count pencils. That's 120 PENCILS per child!!! Are they serving them for snack? We asked for 36 in 1st and I'm still over-run with pencils!

    Regarding the original post, I wouldn't recommend the eraseable pens. They smudge a lot and only erase halfway. I recommend the sharpened/dull pencil boxes where kids swap them out. It's been successful for me!
     
  16. DaleJr88AmpFan

    DaleJr88AmpFan Cohort

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    Jun 22, 2010

    We ask for 6 sharpened pencils to be resupplied OFTEN. I allow my students to sharpen their pencils for the first 10-20min of the morning... 10min of which is before the "official start" of the day. After that, they must use their individual sharpener at their desk. All sharpeners have to have a receptacle to collect the shavings. It seems to work for my 5th graders.
     
  17. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    Jun 22, 2010

    When I was in fourth grade, we got to use erasable pens once we earned our pen license, which had something to do with completing the cursive program.

    Erasable pens are great AS LONG AS YOU AREN'T LEFT HANDED! If you are left handed, they smudge big time, and get all over your hand. If the eraser runs out, you can just use a regular eraser.
     
  18. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Hand-held sharpeners only...can't tolerate anything else. It's as though I feel the sharpening inside my brain. I still like mechanical pencils best...until they squeak. Eek!
     
  19. Lynn K.

    Lynn K. Habitué

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    Jun 22, 2010

    As a lefty myself, I totally agree. I don't let my kids use erasable pens, because they still smear all over my hand when I am grading!

    In our school, 5th graders use pen for everything except math. They bring 6 pencils at the beginning of the year, and I have a ton of extras that parents have supplied over the year (it's on my wish list), so we never run out.

    BTW - I don't mind the sharpener, but I can't stand the kids who stand there and 'forget' that they should pull the pencil out eventually! Does that happen to anyone else?:huh:
     
  20. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Oh yes. I have a very big surplus of pencils that I've gathered over the last 4 years.
     
  21. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I ask for 40 pencils (that is one pencil per week of school) and I tell parents that I will not ask for more during the year if they provide the original 40 pencils. I've never run out, but don't have a ton leftover, so I'm comfortable with that amount.

    Now mind you, I do a dull/sharp pencil cup, and no one is allowed to take a pencil home (I collect them all at the end of the day.)
     
  22. peridotylayne

    peridotylayne Companion

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    I, too, hate the pencil sharpener. Not because of the sound, but because of the pencils. Is it me (and I don't mean to hijack the thread) but has pencil quality severely dropped in the last decade? I remember my pencils never breaking.. even if I wanted them to. And now, I literally come across pencils with no lead inside - straight from the manufacturer. (How's that for a working system of parts? That's a fun mini-lesson right there.) Because of the lack of pencil quality.. I don't do the dull/sharpen thing. I'd never have any sharp ones :(

    I think my partner and I asked for 4 packs of 24-count pencils. I know it seems like a lot, but our students have no regard for holding on to supplies (usually by the 3rd week they've lost glue and scissors -- how they manage, I don't know).

    We pick all the pencils up at the beginning of the year and we pass a new one out at the beginning of the day on Monday. If they manage to lose their pencil between Monday and Friday.. they either borrow one or use a colored pencil/crayon.

    We also pass out a new pencil + eraser top for every set of benchmarks (3 writing, 3 math/reading = 6 per student) and 2 for each set of TAKS tests (1 writing, 1 math/reading = 4 per student).
     
  23. WaterfallLady

    WaterfallLady Enthusiast

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    I have the old fashioned crank kind so that eliminates the problem!
     
  24. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Yes, peridotylayne, the majority of pencils my students use are crappy. The lead breaks off in 1/4" increments while you're sharpening. I'll think it's great and sharp and perfect, and when I flip the pencil over...out falls the sharpened tiny piece of lead. Can't stand it.
     
  25. Teachling

    Teachling Groupie

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    I don't think I've ever seen erasable pens. Where do you get them?
     
  26. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    I've tried the sharp/dull cup. It didn't work for me. I ended up having the pencils in a cup by my desk. The students had to ask me for a pencil and they had to have 2 sharpened every morning before we started class for the day.

    As for how many we ask for on the supply list, this year we are asking for 48 pencils a student. The past couple of years we would ask for like 2 packs of pencils... we'd get the packs of 5 or something like that. Not nearly enough for the school year.
     
  27. cheeryteacher

    cheeryteacher Enthusiast

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    I teach 6th. My kids are required to have a hand held pencil sharpener with a container to catch the shavings. They keep it in the pouch in their binder. I had really immature kids last year and I didn't have a problem with them constantly sharpening their pencils. I also had a classroom store with pencils (I pre-sharpened them), mechanical pencils, and lead.
     
  28. mandabee

    mandabee Rookie

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    I put self catching pencil sharpener on my supply list again this year. Last year was SOOOO much better not having the electric one going, or constantly having kids ask to get up to sharpen their pencil. We had "times" to do it, but when it breaks...what are you going to do, tell them no? Also, I put mechanical pencils and erasable pens on the supply list as well. Between all that, there should continue to be no disruptions this year :) I feel your pain!
     
  29. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    This is one of the worst things about being a math teacher. I cannot STAND math problems done in pen (because of the scribbling out that happens when they mess up), but I hate pencils. I'm going to encourage mechanical pencils this year (why do kids think they're not allowed? I had a kid ask me EVERY WEEK last year if mechanical pencils were okay. Yes! They're perfect!), but at least I actually have two of the old fashioned crank sharpeners in my room. Last year, my school gave me the world's cheapest pencil sharpener. I ended up buying a fairly pricey one (we named it, the kids respected it and NEVER TOUCHED it) that lasted me all year, but it was kind of obnoxious to have to sharpen pencils all day long. (My kids changed classes every 45 minutes so I was forever having a new crop of kids with broken pencils.)

    I don't think there are quite enough parentheses in that paragraph, do you?
     
  30. natelukesmom

    natelukesmom Companion

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    The pencil problem drives me crazy too! The problem for me is I teach 1st grade, and they are too small/weak to do the "crank" pencil sharpener on the wall. Then I bought an electric sharpener, and they broke it within a week (sticking crayons in it - come on!). Anyway, so what I did last year is I was the only one who sharpened pencils...until I found one student who was really reliable and could use the wall pencil sharpener by himself. I let him sharpen a bunch every morning. The rest of the class just came and got one when they needed it. I'll probably do the same thing next year. But the pencil thing can drive you crazy!
     
  31. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    One of our teachers bought a mechanical pencil for every kid in her class, and taped their name on it. The pencils lived at school, and they were NEVER allowed to use the eraser on the pencil (they used handheld erasers instead) so they never got too small for her to pull them out and add more lead.

    There was no way for me to implement a similar system with my 100+ kids in and out of my class all day long, but what a beautiful idea. I would have gladly spent the money if it meant I never had to deal with a pencil sharpener or pencil shavings all over the floor again.
     
  32. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    The parentheses is to you what the ellipse is to me...
     
  33. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    Splurge and buy a surplus of sharpened pencils - maybe hot pink so you can tell it yours. If one breaks, they go get a new one. At the end of class, they give you your pencil back. They can go sharpen their pencil in the next class. LoL.
     
  34. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    I bought a lot of "This is the Teacher's Pencil" pencils last year and somehow they all grew legs and walked off, so I stopped providing pencils. I watched one kid pull one out of her pencil pouch and I was like, "That's so cool that you're a certified teacher and only in 5th grade. How'd you manage that?"

    She looked a little sheepish and gave me the pencil back immediately.

    When it became apparent that nobody was willing to share with the kids who never had pencils, I bought a box of golf pencils. They suck to write with because they're so small and have no erasers, and that's the point. If you want a nice pencil, bring your own!
     
  35. Lynnnn725

    Lynnnn725 Connoisseur

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    oohhhh, I like the golf pencils idea! Makes me wanna teach upper grades for a day. hehe
     
  36. heymiss

    heymiss Comrade

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    Some kids take it in stride, but others will just stare at you, open-mouthed. "Are you SERIOUS? This isn't a pencil!"

    Well...it's better than that imaginary one you were about to have to use.
     
  37. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    Mechanical pencils would be nice except I had a kid bring one to class last year and all he did was play with the lead! So, the lead would break and then...no lead! I banned them after that.
     
  38. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    I let them use pens if they want to. It doesn't bother me. I teach writing, and it is a messy process anyway. I want to see a rough draft with lots of crossed out words and sentences written in the margin and arrows showing that whole sections need to be moved.

    I think the only one who wants the kids to use pencils is the math teacher. It just doesn't bother the rest of us.
     
  39. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Jun 29, 2010

    DITTO!
     
  40. passionateacher

    passionateacher Comrade

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    Jun 29, 2010

    Sharpening Pencils Dilemma

    I was using the Dull/Sharp pencils basket exchange BUT the # of pencils dwindled to 0 within a week. I'm assuming kids were taking them home but I never caught them in the act (and frankly I never found time to check, plus how would I really know if it was MY pencil??)

    Well I took a Sharpie and wrote each student's name on 2 pencils and sharpened them. I had the kids turn in alllllll the rest of the pencils in their desk (We had a cleaning out celebration to make sure). I also told them not to bring any fancy pencils to school...but to leave them at home for homework.

    Well from then on NO KIDS lost their pencils! AND (get this) most of them never needed their pencils sharpened for 2 or 3 days because they would use the 2nd pencil when the first one broke.

    I still had the sharp/dull basket. But I sharpened before/after school. Seriously, there were only 3-4 pencils at a time in the dull basket. And it was no rush because those kids usually had their other pencil to use in the meantime.

    I will definitely use this system again in the future!
     
  41. tgim

    tgim Habitué

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    Jun 29, 2010

    Passionateacher - I am going to try that strategy.

    I let them use the electric sharpener and it really is rarely a problem, but it is very annoying when you are teaching to hear that grinding noise. I don't allow it while I am teaching. They may get a pencil off my desk or by my computer - trading in their broken one. Next year, I will use a can/box for each: sharp and dull/broken.

    Interestingly, for my math kids (we switch) I found that if they came to class without a pencil (or red pen or highlighter) I would allow them to borrow one - BUT, it came at a price: they also had to take a sheet with 100 basic facts (+/- at beginning of year; multi/div by 2nd semester) with a little typed note at the top explaining that this is extra homework since they didn't come to class prepared. I didn't fuss or fume at anyone, I merely smiled and thanked the student for helping me to get rid of some extra practice sheets that I had way too many of.

    It worked like a charm! The kids got so they would readily lend a pen or pencil to a classmate to help them out so they didn't have extra homework, so it stopped the sharpening during class, solved the "I can't find my pencil" problem, and also built a sense of community! Ha ha!
     

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