Pencil issues. How can such a little thing create so many classroom management issues?
I’ve used a lot of different strategies to minimize the daily pencil issues that arise, but this last year I discovered one of the best methods to reduce the time suck that is the pencil issue, and I want to share it with you. Simply read on or watch this video describing how to create your own Borrow Box.
I found a box in the recycling bin. I wanted it to be small enough to sit on the counter near my desk and not take up much space.
Two years ago I came across the wonder of Wasi Tape. I found a design that matches the color scheme of my classroom, and I simply taped the box.
Next, I used the point of an exacto knife to cut ten holes into the top. I barely needed to make much of a hole because the pencils I inserted created the perfect size hole.
I made a point of getting a bunch of unique pencils that are noticeable (although this isn’t necessary). Additionally, I took small post-it notes, cut them in half, and wrote the numbers 1-10 on them. I taped these “flags” onto the end of the pencils. Make sure the flags are secure or they’ll slip off the pencil and litter your classroom floor.
Next, I found a small white board with a pen at the Dollar Store. It’s a perfect board because it’s small and the pen velcros to the board.
This is my sign-out board. Students may come up and check out a pencil if needed. The pencil must be returned before the end of class. The flags and the unusual pencils make them easy to spot if a student is using one of them.
When returning the pencil, it goes back in its hole and the student erases his/her name from the sign-out board.
I generally replenish the pencils once every 4-6 weeks, so for about 80 pencils I almost entirely eliminate one of the main annoyances in the classroom. That’s worth it to me. Admittedly, by the end of the fourth or fifth week the pencils are much shorter, but they are still functional and still working to solve the pencil issue.
If a student doesn’t return a pencil, I can see that his/her name is still on the board. If they lose it, they have to make it right by volunteering to do a chore in the classroom or donate a pencil the next day.
You want to impress the point that students should be bringing their own pencils to school, but sometimes issues happen. I might say, “The ‘Borrow a Pencil Box ‘s a safety net for when you need a pencil. Make sure you check the sign-out board at the end of your class, or assign a student to check the board and the box to make sure all pencils are returned.” Be consistent for several weeks, and the expectation will be set.
No more pencil issues! That’s it. Simple, cheap, and effective. What a great combination!
I’d love to hear your best tip for reducing pencil issues in your classroom.