Monday, April 23, 2012

Pencil Procedures

Pencil procedures may seem like such an unnecessary topic, but this year I've learned how pencil troubles can slow down and derail a day. At the beginning of the year I collected all the pencils. Everyday I have sharp pencils in the "Sharp" can. When students grab a sharp pencil, they replace it by putting their broken pencil in the "NOT Sharp" can. In theory this works well, however, in actuality my classroom has been a disaster zone at times. For a while you could find a pencil on the floor or jammed in a crevice at every spot in my room, it was a mess. Students were taking pencils out of the sharp can, but not replacing them with broken pencils. Since they knew they could always grab a pencil, they felt no responsibility or ownership. The result was broken pencils all over the floor and a shortage in pencils to sharpen.

I know that another option would be to have my students keep their pencils from the beginning of the year in their desk and sharpen as necessary. However, I quickly realized this would not work in my classroom, since I had gone through 3 electric sharpeners and 2 mechanical wall sharpeners in the two months or so of school. I now have 2 AWESOME pencil sharpeners which the students are NOT allowed to use. The down side is that I have to sharpen all the pencils for class, but the benefit is that I have had the sharpeners since January and they are still up and running! I also added a new classroom job, Pencil Detectives. At the end of each day, my pencil detectives walk around the room, collect all abandoned pencils, and return the pencils to the NOT sharp can. These changes have worked wonderfully and I have not had any other major issues.

Next year I think I will collect all the pencils that students bring in again. I will have students pick a pencil from the "Daily Pencil" can as part of their morning routine. Students will be responsible for sharpening their pencil throughout the day (with the wall sharpener) and then will return the pencil to the can at the end of the day during the afternoon routine. I think I will put the "Daily Pencil" can on my desk in between the morning and afternoon routine so that if students need a new pencil, they have to ask me for it. My students this year had A LOT of trouble with organization and responsibility. They would lose EVERYTHING, even the pencil that they were writing with just seconds before. Requiring students to keep track of their pencil throughout the day will hopefully help with their responsibility and help them take ownership for classroom supplies.

Here are some great ideas from around the web:

This is my classroom. You can see my two GREAT round pencil sharpeners on the counter next to the Sharp and NOT Sharp cans (They are also pictured at the top of this post).
Controlling My Chaos
Miss Powers' Class
Polka Dot Patch
I would love to hear how you manage in your classroom! Please leave comments below with your wonderful ideas.

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