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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tried It Tuesday {Pencil Challenge}

Time is flying! I can't believe that we are well into May. ELA and math state tests are done and we only have science to go. We still have almost 40 instructional days to go…but who's counting?! :)

It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Simple! 

My Tried It:
Pencil Challenge
Our fourth graders are OUT OF CONTROL this year with pencils!!
Last week mechanical pencils were officially BANNED from the grade. We always write on the school supply lists "no mechanical pencils" please. Now I remember why! We started getting relaxed on this rule and before we knew it, students had mechanical pencils everywhere!! I wish I had taken a picture of some students desks filled with them. There wasn't just the issue of them constantly breaking and students playing with the lead. I had the problem of about five boys who would crowd around each other's desks anytime it was time to line up and look at each other's pencils! One boy said he bought pencils himself at Walmart with his own money. However, he bought the wrong size refill lead and that was another issue, trying to find pencils and trade to match his lead! Ugh!

So, now with mechanical pencils gone, we are focusing on another pencil problem! Since we are departmentalized, students from two other homerooms come to my room everyday for math. I keep book boxes of math materials in my room complete with a pencil case to store a "back up pencil" and highlighters. Students should just come to class with their homework folder and a pencil. Lately it seems that half the students never have a pencil (or a back up one in their box in case one breaks). Students can only sharpen pencils during morning work time, snack time, and at the end of the day for management issues. We all know students who would sharpen pencils all day to waste time. :) I've had these containers for two years, but with 50 students in and out of my room everyday, students just take pencils to borrow them and never return them! I can't keep extra ones in there!
Possible solution? Start a pencil challenge! I read about pencil challenges in the blogging world last year. This is the deal:
I gave everyone a pencil with their number written with a Sharpie on a piece of duck tape wrapped on the end.

The picture above is actually for my block 2 class and the picture below is block 3. I had to use different tape for each block because the numbers repeat three times for each group. I used another different tape for my block 1 but I didn't get a picture before passing those out last week.
The students can save their pencil and not use it or use it everyday. They just have to still have their pencil by "pencil reward day" which is Wednesday for my homeroom.  They received their pencils last Thursday. Today I asked how many still had their pencil and EVERY student raised their hand! I didn't tell them what the prize would be, but said there would be a reward. I'm going to mix it up a bit and sometimes give lunch in the classroom or outside time and other times a prize from my prize bin. It's close enough to the end of the year that I think I can keep it going all year and it will save my sanity these last weeks!!
By the way, my Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener I first blogged about in January 2013 here is going strong! Here is a picture of my pencil sharpener yesterday. I had it wall mounted in a creative way.

These are my pencils sharpened with the Classroom Friendly supplies sharpener.
These were sharpened with the electric sharpener. :(
I will update on the pencil challenge soon and let you know how it is going. 
Have you ever tried a pencil challenge?