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The Pencil Debate: Solutions To Students Not Having a Pencil
This is definitely a heated debate among educators 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.
I am divided, while I feel that is important for students to learn responsibility I also have 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 the pencil problem 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 another item that they brought 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 not been returned.
4. Create a student-managed sign out system. Provide the student manager 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.
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.
8. Tape a fake flower or something equally large to the pencil or pen. This will help identify that these being 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. On social media a teacher shared her creative solution – she posted a laminated sign for each class that 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.
Looking for more ideas and solutions? Check out the blog posts linked below.