3 Tips to Solve Pencil Problems in the Classroom

Pencils can be a source of frustration and a waste of class time. Think about how many hours in a school year students spent trying to find, borrow, or sharpen a pencil when you are ready to begin a lesson.  Why is this topic not covered in undergrad classes?
Pencil Problem #1: The pencil that doesn't sharpen or the tip keeps breaking off.

Different brands of pencils sharpen different ways. If your school allows it, write a specific brand of pencil on your school supply list. Non-teachers don't realize how much the brand of a pencil makes in the day-to-day life of a student and teacher. My favorite brand is Ticonderoga.

Pencil Problem #2: Sharpening at the wrong time

Accidents do happen, and pencil tips do break in the middle of a lesson. Keep a cup of sharpened pencils that students may borrow if this happens during a lesson. Put a small piece of colored duct tape at the top of the pencil near the eraser so you can easily identify your pencil. If students need to borrow a pencil during a lesson, they leave their pencil next to the Teacher's Pencil Cup and borrow one from the cup. This seems to be quicker and quieter than letting students sharpen their pencil during a lesson.
Would you like some freebie signs to attach to your pencil cups? The "write on" sign is for pencils that are ready to write. The sign with the stop sign is where students put their pencils that have stopped working. There is a sign that you can put on your cup of pencils that you use at your reading table.
Pencil Problem #3: Lost pencil syndrome

Do you have a student that frequently has lost pencil syndrome? It takes up valuable class time, it is frustrating to you, the student with the lost pencil, and the other students in your class. Here are a couple of things to try:
  • Assign each student a number. 
  • Write their number at the top of the pencil near the eraser with a sharpie. 
  • Give each student a small amount of sticky tak to put on their desk. They will put their pencil on the sticky tak.  It helps with the pencil rolling off the desk syndrome.

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