Sunday, January 24, 2016

Does The Great Pencil Challenge Work?

If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw my post in December about how I'd be starting The Great Pencil Challenge with my class.

Every student was given a newly sharpened pencil with pink duct tape with their number written towards the top in Sharpie. That's how we can tell the pencil challenge pencils away from the regular "emergency" pencils. I always keep a small bucket of sharpened pencils handy in case their challenge pencil goes dull or the point breaks during the day because I don't ever run the pencil sharpener during the day. My sharpener is great but loud. It also becomes a distraction during the day that we don't need.

Once the pencil gets too small to sharpen I replace it with a new challenge pencil. As long as they don't lose the pencil, they remain in the challenge with a pink taped pencil.

So here's the question... DOES THE CHALLENGE WORK? YES! Friday was our 5th week of the challenge and 14/17 students still had their pencil! It's unreal, y'all. They're SO into it. I have one sweet thirdie who almost had a panic attack because he thought he lost his pencil. Bless his sweet heart.

Does anything happen to them if they lose their pencil? The sticky note with their name comes off the wall and they don't get a Pencil Challenge Dojo point (worth +2)... but that's it. No one is going to kill you if you don't have your pencil!

Why give The Great Pencil Challenge a try in your classroom? I was sick and tired of them leaving pencils on the floor and going through them like crazy! The only reason I have gone into my new pencil drawer since starting the challenge has been to get a new challenge pencil for a friend whose pencil has become too short to write with. I have saved SO MANY pencils already.

Still not convinced? This is a perfect opportunity to teach responsibility for items and see them take pride in something!

If all of this doesn't convince you to give it a try I don't know what will! How long will your kiddos last?

Make sure to follow me on Instagram to see how many survive week 6!


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  2. Hi! This will be my first year teaching Second. I love your idea as pencils were a major issue in my kindergarten classroom last year. Question...what do you do if they lose their challenge pencil? (As in, what do they write with?) Do you have community pencils for them to access? Also, when do they sharpen their challenge pencils?

    1. Hi Kelly! I hope you LOVE second grade as much as I did. I kept community pencils, or what I referred to as "emergency pencils." If a student's challenge pencil broke during the day they could use an Emergency Pencil. I don't have a manual sharpener and I don't run my electronic sharpener until the end of the day. The same goes for a student who loses their pencil. They can use a community pencil. Once a chunk of kids have all lost their pencils I start a second round of the challenge by giving those students a new challenge pencil with different colored tape so I can differentiate.

      Thanks for asking a GREAT question!

  3. I was wondering what happens if a student misplaces a pencil when you do a pencil check, then finds it again. Will their name go back on the Wall of Honor, or are they done with the challenge?

    Thank you!