Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Case of the Missing Pencil

I am starting my 12th year in education. My how fast time flies by!! Each grade is different. Each classroom of students are different. However, there is one thing that every class has. What you ask? LOST PENCILS! I just don't get it. Everyday for the past 12 years, my students were asked to write throughout the day, and at least once a week I heard the dreaded statement, "I don't have a pencil, Mrs. Horton."

I have tried a variety of things to try to remedy this never ending problem.

*Community pencils: I purchased cute little containers for students to keep enough pencils for each student at their table. This worked beautifully until someone took  from another table or forgot to return the pencil when they were finished.

*Keep your own pencils: One year I had students keep all their pencils. If they stored their items in their binders, the pencil would always be there and others would not have access to them. This worked beautifully for my organized, wanting to please darlings. For the rest of the class, this created other problems such as... bringing a ridiculous amount of pencils out to work, breaking pencils for the joy of sharpening them ALL day long, and the dreaded mechanical pencil. Oh mechanical pencils how I loathe thee!!

*Pretend that there isn't a pencil dilemma: I have even ignored the issue with pencils. I finally got to the point that I would wait until someone would loan a classmate a pencil before I would even get up from my teacher chair. This was not good. Those who were always prepared were expected to take care of those who neglected responsibility (which I am sure are still borrowing pencils to this day.)

So, I am trying something new.

Mrs. Horton's Pencil Procedure:
All students are expected to bring to school a package/box of #2 pencils. On the first day of school, each student will be given a ziploc plastic bag. They will keep out two pencils and the remaining pencils will go into the bag and I will put them up. The students will have to keep up with their two pencils by making sure they are sharpened and kept in their binder. If a pencil gets too short for use, students can bring the short pencil and exchange it for a new one. If they lose or forget a pencil, the students can get up to 2 free pencils from their bag without penalty for each nine weeks. After they have used up their 2 free pencils, it becomes a behavior issue. 

It is my hope that the students will step up and take responsibility for their supplies. I am certain that I will have a lost pencil this year, but maybe with the help of my Pencil Procedure my students will spend more time learning and less time hunting down supplies.

A Little Bit of Paint and Pinterest

I would love to share a fun, up-cycle project I  finished for my classroom. This projected started out as an old cabinet door I purchased from a teacher friend. My first thought was to paint it with chalkboard paint and use it as an objectives board. Well, I did paint it, but it is not an objective board. See, I tend to fiddle around on the fun stuff to keep me from working on the "not so fun" stuff. (Bad I know...) Let's get to it!!
1. I used an old cabinet door I found from a teacher friend on a Junktique Facebook group. I love these sites. I have found several neat items and book for my classroom. Oh, and it is generally very cost-effective.
2. Using chalkboard paint, black paint would work too, I painted the inside panel. It took 2 coats. Let it completely dry before you add a new coat. It needs to go on smooth so you can write on it later.
3. Using red acrylic paint, I painted the border. I didn't know what I wanted at the time so I used a Wal-mart plastic bag to create a texture on the red paint. Then after it dried, I decided I didn't like it and painted it with a second coat of red without the plastic bag texture.
4. While it was drying, I surfed Pinterest for examples of fonts and phrases for my board.
5. When the paint was completely dry, I used a pencil and began to create different fonts. I started off with the first row and then kind of jumped around as I tried to fit everything in. When I messed up, I simply re-painted the black and tried again.
6. When I finally felt that it was good, I used a white paint pen to make the words stand out. This part was super easy.
This is a super cute, inexpensive way to jazz up your classroom. What is something you made for your classroom this summer?