How Do You Set Up A Classroom Pencil Management Plan?
Do you dread the question mid lesson, “Can I have another pencil” or picking up 5 pencils on the floor every afternoon? How about my personal favorite, watching a student during a test, break their pencil so they can get up and sharpen it? Continue reading to find out how my team teacher and I created the Pencil Challenge to solve our pencil management problems.
All of these situations are frustrating and a waste of time for everyone. A few years ago, my team teacher and I came up with a solution. We started the Pencil Challenge and loved it. Our pencil system went from reactive to proactive. It helped our classroom run smoothly with only a few small changes.
What is the Pencil Challenge?
At the start of each week, students receive 5 new sharpened pencils in their pencil pouch. These pencils need to last until Friday. We asked students to keep them in their desks. If a student ran out before Friday, they could use money from their class bank (fake dollars) to purchase one. If they didn’t have any money they could borrow one for the day. We would write their name on our clipboard when they received the pencil and crossed it off when they turned it back in. On Friday, we collected the pencil pouches and every student that still had 5 pencils received a reward. The pencils could be broken or dull. We used money for the classroom store as a reward. Every student who had 5 pencils, received 5 dollars. Trained students helped us during dismissal to count the pencils, put the class money in the pouches and replace the old pencils with 5 new sharpened pencils. Another student helper sharpened the old pencils as 2 students worked on the checking and switching out of the pencils. On Monday morning, we passed out the pouches as students entered the classroom.
I originally thought this challenge sounded impossible but the majority of our students excelled and received the reward every week. This system helped me support the students that lost their pencils by allowing me to be intentional with my feedback and strategies to help them reach the reward the following week.
I loved that each student received a fresh start on Mondays and could try again.
How to Organize a Pencil Challenge in your Classroom
- Start by collecting all the pencils students bring in at the start of the school year.
- If a small pencil or supply pouch isn’t on your supply list, communicate it to parents quickly.
- Buy a few extra pouches at the dollar store for new students and those that can’t afford supplies.
- Give students 5 sharpened pencils at the start of the week.
- Add your students to the Pencil Challenge Checklist so you can keep track of who is meeting their goals
- Decide what you will use as a reward. Lunch in the classroom, class money, 5 minutes free time, ect.
- Choose and train student helpers to check pencil pouches on Friday and replace old pencils with new pencils.
- Sharpen all the dull old pencils for the following week.
4 Tips for Success with the Classroom Pencil Management:
- Remind them of the expectations daily for the first few weeks.
- Communicate with parents your expectation so they can encourage their child to be responsible.
- Make it fun and exciting.
- Celebrate the students who reach their goal.