Sunday, November 2, 2014

Made4Math: Feather Pencils

I've been trying to come up with an idea all summer long to maintain my stock of pencils.  I know it's inevitable that my pencils are going to just get up and walk out of the classroom, but anything I can do to minimize the loss will be a great help.  Last year I tried wrapping colorful mini duct tape around the top of the pencil to identify my pencils.  Within two weeks, I was finding the tape adhered to my desks, chairs, and adorning my classroom walls.

I've seen all over pinterest teachers that taped flowers to their pencils.  It will definitely remind students that the pencil does not belong to them, but I can only imagine how annoying it is to write with.  The real problem though is that a large flower renders the eraser unusable.  These teachers have stated that they just hand out erasers for students to use instead.  This would be a wonderful solution, but my students will take one eraser and magically turn it into several mini projectiles.  (In case you haven't picked up on this fact so far in this post, or any of my previous posts, my students are very destructive.)

I was stuck on the idea of attaching something to the pencil though.  Something small, flexible, colorful, and easily identifiable.  Finally it dawned on me.  I went shopping at Hobby Lobby and came across these:

I know.  1998 called and it wants its pens back.  They were only $0.99, and couldn't resist the fun nostalgia. 

So I decided that since feather pens are so much fun, why not try feather pencils?  I bought a pack of bright, colorful feathers, and attached them to the pencils with washi tape.  My only hope is that students don't take these apart.  And of course they do.  (The most annoying thing is when they have scissors for Interactive Notebooks, some of them will cut the feathers off.)  They complain that the feathers annoy them.  I have two things to say when they tell me this:  (1)  Just be glad I didn't put a large flower on it; (2)  If you don't like my pencils, bring your own pencil.

One of the things I love about this method is that there is no need to sign up to borrow a pencil.  Just take one and put it back when you're done.  (Although I've had to remind students that this is what we will have to resort to if they keep taking/mutilating my pencils.)  I will be able to scan the room before the end of class and notice who has one of my pencils and remind them to return it.  Another bonus is when students do find my pencils in another classroom, they bring them back because they know the pencil is mine.  In the past two months, I have lost approximately 30 pencils, which is a HUGE improvement from the pencils I lost by this time last year.

1 comment:

  1. I circumvent the pencil problem by stocking up on the Bic disposable mechanical pencils. I can usually get two dozen for $6 somewhere and then sell them for a quarter (and only quarters). Because they had to buy it, they have a sense of ownership and are less likely to abuse them.


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