I am not going to lie — I am a Pinterest junkie. I find some of the coolest solutions from other teachers’ Pinterest boards, including this gem!
I get so little time with my students that I really have to streamline every little procedure, and one thing that has been driving me batty is pencils! Students will “shop” for the elusive, never-used, full-erasered, lethally-sharp pencil; examining each and every pencil with TSA-level thoroughness, before discarding it in search of a better one. This process can take all class period! I do not allow students to use the pencil sharpeners, because that is another process that can take forever. But pencils do break or get dull, and students need to swap them out for sharp pencils, and I really do not have time to deliver fresh pencils all the time.
Solution? A straw dispenser! Sadly, I couldn’t find a used one in my district’s warehouse, but I was able to find one on Amazon fairly cheaply.
Here are a few tips for making this system work:
- Set out a “dull pencils” container. Students must trade dull pencils for sharp ones. Each student gets one twist only and must take the pencil they get. At the end of the day, allow a trusted student to sharpen all the dull pencils and refill the container. (Since students have to sharpen ALL those pencils, they tend to not sharpen each pencil down to the nubbins.)
- When loading the pencils into the dispenser, be sure they sit in the middle of the dispenser. They may not dispense properly if they sit on either side. (See photo above.)
- This dispenser is acrylic, so it won’t stand up to a lot of abuse. I did find some steel ones, but they were wicked expensive. No big deal, just put the dispenser where it is easy to supervise.
- The little balls on the dispenser handles come off easily. They can be easily glued into place to prevent this.
- This only works with standard pencils. Pencils of odd shapes, sizes, mechanical pencils, and with eraser caps or clips will not work, obviously.
- Worn-out erasers? Awesome! I actually prefer pencils without erasers in the Art Room.
I love easy solutions, and this one has been ideal! I plan to get two more — one for each of my other classrooms, because this has worked so well.
Do you have a great classroom solution? Please share in the comments!