Sunday, April 23, 2017

Keep Your Sanity, One Pencil at a Time & Freebie

Hi there!
Soooo, it's been a long time since I blogged...seriously, a  LONG time.  But, I posted a little picture on my IG account that I didn't think anything about.  It had pencils, a sharpener, marker, tape, and scissors in it.  Whatever, just another Sunday night as a teacher.  Well next thing I knew, this little picture went viral!!  Viral for me, at least:)  Over 13,000 people viewed the picture...WOWZA!!

So, that little picture and your active engagement is what inspired me to write a blog post!!  For that, I thank you!

I want share what I implemented in my classroom in-order to keep my sanity for the rest of the school year.  A few years ago, I found "The Great Pencil Challenge" by Ladybugs Teaching Files on Pinterest.  If you click {here} you can read her blog post and click {here} and {here} to get her freebies on TPT.  I thought it was such a great idea, but, I've never had a reason to implement it.  I've always have a large supply of pencils that I purchase at the beginning of the year and generally parents send in tons of extras.  Well, this year it was different.  I didn't receive a lot of extra supplies. And, who knows what my students have done with their pencils...lose them? Break them? Eat them? Whatever they were doing, I was running low, quickly!  I finally had an "AH-HA" moment...The Great Pencil Challenge!!

The weekend before the start of the third quarter, I went home armed with pencils, masking tape, and a marker. As I binge watched The Walking Dead, I wrapped three pencils, for each student, with masking tape, marked it with their student number, and initialed it.  I made a little poster and brought everything to school on Monday.  What was the big reward?  An ice cream party!!!!  If they could keep all three pencils for an entire quarter (45 days) they would get an ice cream party!!!  Most thought it would be easy...well, it turned out to be easy for some and impossible for others.   There were other rewards too...keep two pencils, earn extra recess...keep one pencil, earn a green ticket (token system)...and unfortunately, if they had no pencils with tape, sorry Charlie.

To keep things manageable, I did weekly check-ins.  Every Friday, I would check their pencils.  They need to have three, sharpened pencils in their pencil box for the upcoming week.  For each "Pencil Challenge" pencil they had, they were allowed to move that many spaces around our PBIS track (school-wide behavioral management system).  If they were missing pencils, I gave them new ones. It just wasn't taped and labeled; which meant it didn't count toward the end of the quarter challenge.
waiting patiently
3 pencils!!
In addition, if the tape was ripped or the pencils were too short, I would replace them.  In order to make things even easier, I have a Pencil Sharpener job.  One student is allowed to sharpen pencils each month.  They sharpen student pencils during arrival and dismissal each day.  This is a great way to make sure your sharpener doesn't break mid-year.

All in all, it was a success!!  I had nine students earn an ice cream party, eight students earn extra recess, three who earned a green ticket, and two student got nothing.

As a matter of fact, it was so successful, I figured we could do it for another 45 days!!  The students were SO excited when I came back after Spring Break with three new, sharpened pencils for their fourth quarter challenge!  Check out my little helper (starting him young)!  He definitely made my job a lot easier...haha, joking!

I've kept the rewards the same, since they were so motivating.  We are four days in and all of my students still had their pencils on Friday.  They weren't impressed but I definitely was!!!

If you're interested in keeping your sanity and not losing all your pencils, make sure to check out Ladybugs Teaching Files blog post.  You can also download this free, editable poster for your classroom.  Just click on the picture below.

Thanks for listening to my rambles!

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