14 Jul

This may or may not be an issue at your school, but give me your thoughts if you’ve faced the challenge of pencils.

When a student needs a pencil in your class, what do you do? Do you just give him one? Do you just lend him one? If you lend it, do you take collateral?  Write his name on the board?

In the past, I’ve taken shoes, backpacks, ID cards, and written names on the board. I get most of them back, but I do still lose them. I’ve also done the golf pencils because it was suggested the the students won’t take them because they don’t like them. I agree, they didn’t take them as much, and they didn’t like them as much to work with, but they sure liked throwing them at one another. Then I got to thinking, about the fact that since these kids are borrowing a pencil in my class, that means they just don’t have one. Should I just give one to them?

What do you do?


Posted by on July 14, 2010 in education


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12 responses to “Pencils

  1. Sherri

    July 14, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Just GIVE them a pencil! Is it worth the whole exchange ordeal? I just remind them at dismissal to return any pencils borrowed. No big deal, and the majority of the time they are returned! That is why I stock up at the sales before school!!

  2. David Duez

    July 14, 2010 at 8:47 am

    I give them one… but actually I have a cup on my desk that has a bunch in it all the time. Most of the time my kids bring theirs. But, I share my room 2 other periods and that’s usually when they disappear.

    I had a teacher in high school that would use golf pencils (the little tiny ones) and kids hated that.

  3. I Speak Math

    July 14, 2010 at 9:48 am

    I have a barter system for pencils, or should I say half pencils. I have a small Sponge Bob pencil pail that I fill with sharpened half pencils. (Yes, I cut them all in half). When they need a pencil, they have to put their pencil (or pen) in the pail to get a half pencil. Then, at the end of class they switch back. They know the system, they don’t have to ask me, and it doesn’t eat up class time hunting down pencils for kids or seeing who has one they can borrow if I don’t.

    This also works with pencils that need to be sharpened during class. I have a no sharpening during class rule (unless they have their own, small handheld sharpener). The noise is distracting and some students consider it a recreational activity. So, if you need a shaper pencil, you trade yours in for my sharp half pencil until the end of class.

    I just bought 25 8 packs of pencils at Staples for 1 cent a piece. That is 25 cents for 200 pencils – or 400 half pencils. So, I am not stressed if they don’t come back. I don’t keep track. I have enough to worry about. And, 400 should last me the year. : ) But, they hate these little pencils (think golf pencils) so it is usually not a problem.


  4. Desiree

    July 14, 2010 at 11:02 am

    I let them borrow one. I usually keep them in a container on the board and if they leave their ID great, if not then I make sure to ask for them at the end of the period. Most kids just don’t have a pencil and they need it to finish the homework. Sometimes they remember and bring them back at the end of the day. I don’t really mind as long as they try to make an effort to give them back. Oh well…what’s a couple of cents. 🙂

  5. cordiwife

    July 14, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    This is David, not Bethany. I do not give my students a pencil. I tell them that I brought my supplies and that they need to bring theirs. They usually borrow 1 from a neighbor. I stopped when I noticed that every day the same kid(s) would be asking; therefore, they’re not responsible enough to take it home and bring it back or put it in their locker.
    At the end of last year, my mom gave me a shoe box of pencils. Every where she ever went in life, she bought a pencil… so, I call it the ghetto pencil box. I put it up on my file cabinet, and for the last quarter of school, when a student asked for a pencil, I’d point them to the ghetto box. and then call them ghetto too. half of the box is gone now…

  6. Matt Townsley

    July 14, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    Over six years, I tired all kinds of things…not giving pencils, giving them to anyone that asked, limiting the number of pencils, selling pencils and using collateral. Perhaps because I wasn’t consistent with any one of them, I didn’t find any one strategy to be any more useful than the others.

    On a somewhat related note, I was at a meeting today that consisted of all adults and I ran out of paper. Someone gave me a piece of paper to continue taking notes. I sat on an interview panel this Spring and a colleague forgot a pen. I gave him one of mine. Sometimes I wonder why we send the bar higher via punishments and crazy expectations for our students than we do for our colleagues and friends. Sure, there’s lessons to be learned such as “come to class prepared” but does refusing to give a pencil (arguably a fundamental tool to learning in any math class) to a student if he/she forgets it once in a while really drive home that point?

  7. Simon Job

    July 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I have small plastic zip lock bags with three pencils and an eraser in them.

    Similarly, if they didn’t bring a pen or a ruler, they get a large plastic zip lock bag with red pen, blue pen and ruler in them. I was tired of handing out individual items and not getting them bag. The plastic bags solve that a little. Also, having the bag on their desk for the lesson is a little annoying.

  8. Janelle

    July 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Such a good question. At the beginning of the year, I always have pencils available for students. I have them in a cup next to the pencil sharpener. My hope is students will take one if they need it and return it at the end of class.

    However, the cup soon gets depleted – as does my own supply of pencils. By the end of the year, I was out of pencils I had to loan out. Most students were able to borrow them from others, and I am not a stickler for pencil only in my class (pens are usually fine, too).

    I still don’t know what I’ll do this year. I hate pencils walking away, but it’s such a little thing to get uptight about.

  9. jalzen

    July 14, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Thanks for all the comments, guys! I think I’m leaning heavily toward just giving them pencils. I bought A LOT of them on sale. It was good to hear about what others do too.

  10. Jennifer

    July 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

    The first year of teaching I went through over 300 pencils. Now, I do not give them pencils freely. One of my 3 class rules is to be prepared and the first consequence to breaking any of the rules is a 10 minute detention at lunch. SO, when they ask me to borrow a pencil, my respond is always the same, “sure, it will be a 10 minute detention.”

    Somehow (it must be magic), when there is a choice between finding a pencil or having a detention, they find one either by actually looking in their backpack or by getting one from someone around them. If a kid has taken too long or is making too much of an issue in my class by trying to borrow one, I give them one and a detention slip at the same time. In our detention time, we talk about how they can make sure they always have a pencil/pen at school and I always make them bring 5 to school the next day to PROVE that they are going to fix their own problem. The detenion usually only lasts 2 minutes 🙂

    Usually by October no one asks anymore, but everyone has a pencil 🙂

  11. katie

    July 22, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    i make them leave a shoe. just one shoe, not both. people don’t want to try this because they’re afraid of the smell, but i have the nose of a bloodhound (i’m famous for this!) and i RARELY smell the shoes, even if they’re right next to me. and i move around the room so much anyway that i don’t smell them. this works better than anything else because it’s collateral that they don’t want to part with, so they usually try to borrow from someone else.

  12. Miss Teacha

    July 23, 2010 at 6:37 am

    i sell them for 25 cents. I never loan a pen/pencil. You must buy. I had some kids that bought pens/pencils every day of theweek.


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