Hard-Won Knowledge about Pencils in the Classroom:
An Occasional Series (Part Three)
If you use the two-cup pencil system (which I highly recommend), you can expect a chronic shortage of sharpened pencils. This is because students do not turn in their dull pencils.
There is an easy way to fix this. I call it the Pencil Drive.
Basically, I give students team points for turning in their pencils. To make it easy to manage, I collect all the pencils at once. Here’s a step-by-step process for running your Pencil Drive.
1. Have a class point system. If you don’t, class points are not particularly valuable. (If you teach first grade, this probably doesn’t matter. Little kids love points, even if they don’t mean anything.)
2. Announce the Pencil Drive. Students will have 30 seconds to collect as many pencils as they can. You make a judgment call on whether they can find the pencils in other students’ desks. This will depend on how desperate you are for pencils.
3. Watch for misbehavior. I have never had a problem, but I can see how wrestling or arguing might happen during the Pencil Drive.
4. Ask each table to give all of their pencils to one person. This person will count the table’s pencils and bring them to you. You put them in a cup and let the person mark their table’s points.
5. Send your Pencil People into the hall to sharpen pencils. For your sake, I really hope there is an outlet in the hallway. If not, hold your Pencil Drive before recess or lunch. Your Pencil People can sharpen pencils in the room, and the other kids don’t have to listen to it. If you have kids sharpen pencils during lunch or recess, you should probably ask for volunteers rather than assign someone.