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The Pencil Debate: Solutions For Lost Pencils

Read 10 great ideas and solutions for solving the lost pencils problem in classrooms in this blog post.


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The Pencil Debate: Solutions To Lost Pencils (Students Not Having a Pencil)

Lost pencils is definitely a heated debate among educators about whether to give or not give students a pencil when they arrive in your class without one. I understand both sides of the debate – don’t give them the pencil because it does not teach them responsibility for the future, or give them the pencil because they came to class and want to complete the work.

What do you do about lost pencils in your classroom?

I am divided; while I feel that it is important for students to learn responsibility, I also have a professional duty to ensure I can assess what my students have learned. When I lend out a pen or a pencil, I ask my students for a piece of collateral (sweatshirt/hoodie, pencil case, novel, binder, etc.) so that they are more likely to return the writing utensil. Never ask a student for their shoe. In case of an emergency (fire, flood, etc.), the student would have to leave the classroom without their shoe(s).

Below are possible solutions to lost pencils that I have gathered from my own experiences and other teachers.

1. Buy golf pencils for your classes.

2. Request collateral – some schools have student ID cards or other items that they bring to class.

3. Write the student’s name on the whiteboard or chalkboard under a “Loaned Items” section. Make a student responsible for reminding you to collect your supplies 5 minutes before the end of the class. Use this simply as a tracking method, not a punitive measure. Teachers cannot afford to continually purchase new pencils because the ones they already purchased have turned into lost pencils.

4. Create a student-managed sign-out system. Provide the student manager with a reward or incentive (bonus mark, homework pass, food, etc.) for managing this system based on what is allowed at your school/district.

5. Develop a pencil trading system – provide a new pencil to a student who has a used one to share with their peer.

6. I pick up all the pens and pencils left in my classroom at the end of each day. These extra writing tools go in a basket on a shelf that students can take as needed.

7. Use magnet clips and attach pencils to the whiteboard or a metal cookie sheet if your boards are not magnetic. Number each pencil with washi or masking tape to provide an additional layer of organization. Check out these pencil holders that you can tack to your whiteboard or a spare desk. At the beginning of class, check how many you have and then ensure they all get returned by the end of class.

8. Tape a fake flower or something equally large to the pencil or pen. This will help identify that these belong to our classroom. It is also harder to forget and put these into a pencil case. The kindergarten teacher does this at my school to identify what writing tools are hers and are not for student use.

9. Ask the student if they have a pencil in their locker – then let them go and get it.

10. Buy misprinted pencils. I love this idea as it is better for the environment and I am sure you can make it into a grammar lesson.

11. On social media, a teacher shared her creative solution – she posted a laminated sign for each class she teaches. It reads, “___ days since a student requested a pencil.” The class with the best score gets a special treat at the end of the semester/term.

Read about classroom solutions about students who do not bring a pencil to class.

At the end of the day – give the kid a pencil. It is of service to no one if the student feels left out or the work is not completed. I hope some of the lost pencils solutions in this article have helped you shape your lost pencils policy for your students. Get more classroom management ideas here.

Find More Ideas About Lost Pencils

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