So your students come in to class and don’t have pencils. Is this a big deal? Are we concerned about why they don’t have a pencil? Let’s talk about some easy-to-implement strategies for dealing with the pencil dilemma.
‘Cause I Ain’t Got a Pencil poem by Joshua Dickerson
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I woke myself up, because we ain't got an alarm clock dug in the dirty clothes basket. because ain't nobody washed my uniform. brushed my hair and teeth in the dark. Because the lights ain't on.
Even got my baby sister ready? Because my mama wasn't home,
Goddess both to school on time to eat us a good breakfast. Then when I got to class, the teacher first because I ain't got no pencil.Brittany:
So your students come into class and don't have a pencil? Is this a big deal? Are we concerned about why they don't have a pencil?Ellie:
Welcome to the teaching Toolbox Podcast. Our topic for today is that pesky pencil situation that seems to cause a headache for so many teachers, whether they don't have a pencil because of the chaos in their lives as this fabulous poem by Joshua T. Dickerson illustrates, or because they just didn't feel like bringing one, we still end up with the issue of students needing a pencil for a class. And while we might be perfectly fine with supplying every student with a pencil during class, we usually need to get the pencils back. And that ends up being the issue. So today, let's talk about some easy to implement strategies for dealing with the pencil dilemma.Brittany:
First of all, maybe we don't care to get the pencils back. Maybe we don't care if we break the bank and constantly just buy more and more pencils, till the school year ends. We can't buy anymore.Ellie:
But if we don't want to break the bank, how can we get more pencils for our students to use, and then not worry about getting them back and the ideas for how we can get some extra pencils,Brittany:
pick up pencils off the floor, in your classroom, in the hallways, in the cafeteria, wipe them down, and then put them in your pencil container, then it doesn't matter if you get those ones back or not. Yeah, and you can sharpen them. So students don't need to waste time sharpening them so that they're just ready to go.Ellie:
Yep, one year, I had a bunch of little pencils that you use, like for miniature golf. And so students didn't really really enjoy using those or borrowing them, but they would use them. And I did not care if I got those back. So that's an easy, easy one to use.Brittany:
I've seen the idea of pencil wars in different Facebook groups. It's basically a competition for who can bring in the most pencils. This can be groups within the class competing, or class periods competing against each other. And the group who brings in the most pencils wins a party or prize of some kind this way you generate a great supply of pencils.Ellie:
Yeah, I've seen that be very successful. We would also give bucks, you know, from our classroom economy, if students donated pencils. So there would be some students who really wanted some bucks, and they would bring lots of pencils and donate those,Brittany:
we would have our students be required to bring a box or two of pencils at the beginning of the year. And then we would take those and stash them in the closet. And then we would use those pencils throughout the school year.Ellie:
Awesome. Right. So those are some great ideas, how to get some extra pencils. And if we don't care if we get them back, because we've constantly got new ones coming in. Those are some ideas we can use. Now if we do want to get the pencils back, we have some other strategies for you. Brittany, do you have any ideas about what we can do to get the pencils back when we want them back?Brittany:
Students could put their name on the board when they borrow a pencil and then erase it when they give it back. Maybe you physically hand them a pencil in that case, and then collect it at the end of the class.Ellie:
I've seen pencils being clipped to the board so that students can go up and grab them themselves. So they take it out of the magnetic clip that is attached to the board, then they write their name next to that holder. And then when they put the pencil back, they erase their name. So kind of a similar idea. But in this case, it's almost like a self serve type of thing because they're clipped right onto the board.Brittany:
Maybe you could put sharpened pencils in the center of each group of students and then not dismiss the students until the container has all the pencils back in it. You might be waiting a long time. That is a possibility.Ellie:
Right, exactly. And if you physically hand out pencils, you know that you handed out like five pencils or 10 pencils again, you could not let students leave until you have all the pencils you handed out. That could kind of be one of the classroom routines like the end of class routine that we talked about in one of our other podcasts episodes that could be part of the end of classroom tene all the pencils have to be returned. And hopefully, you're not waiting for a super long time.Brittany:
Yes, you could get collateral for the pencil exchange a pencil for a binder or a water bottle or cell phone or like I did a shoe, I would exchange a shoe for a pencil.Ellie:
Yeah. Now, did you ever have problem with the stinky feet with the shoes?Brittany:
I've seen some people say that, like kids would make fun of it and say that it was really bad or stinky or whatever. But it wasn't it was just fine. And I never got any complaints from parents or anything like that. So it worked out just fine. Yeah, and there's I mean, most cases, those are things they don't want to leave behind. So they're going to remember to give you your pencil back.Ellie:
Yes, you can attach something to the pencils. So students don't want to walk away with them. For several years, I had big fake flowers attached to mine. So we would use wire and put wire around them, and then a certain kind of duct tape around them that was harder to get off. So it was hard for them to peel it off. And so they would borrow one if they needed it. They didn't even have to sign it out. Because it was really obvious who had those pencils. And if by some chance they forgot to put it back. Anybody that was near them knew that it wasn't there a pencil and could remind them that they needed to put it back or if they ended up with it in the next class, that teacher would know whose it was and they would return them. So that was really successful. I did have some other years where I just put various colored duct tape on without the big flowers. Duct tape was not quite as effective because it wasn't as obvious. But like the big flowers were really, really effective.Brittany:
Yeah, I use the duct tape as well in bright pink or bright green, lime green. But I never used Fancy Flowers like silk flowers or whatever. But I did use plastic spoons. Oh, yeah. And those worked pretty well as well.Ellie:
Yeah, so anything that's kind of stands out a bit more. Some of the kids did not want to use the flowers. Yes. But they did. We also did allow our students to buy a pencil from us without using their classroom economy in addition to, you know, donating pencils, they could buy pencils if they needed to use them for the class period, and then they could keep them.Brittany:
Yeah, so we did the same thing.Ellie:
They didn't have to return those. They could keep them for that class period. Any other tips?Brittany:
No, I think we've covered it.Ellie:
All right. So we've got some quick rapid fire tips for you there. And that does it for our pencil dilemma tips. If you found this episode helpful, please screenshot it. Share it on Instagram. Remember to tag us and we'll talk to you later. Have a great day. See you next time.