TK TinkerSpace

Pencil tech


Today we had a lesson in the limited resources we have and the status of our technology. We were preparing for our star test and trying to sharpen pencils. I have noticed for a while now that pencils that I purchase are just not of the quality that used to be available. Approximately 25% of the pencils will not stand to be sharpened. They break and are not sharpen-able.
Somewhat occasionally the school will purchase some pencils but they are the same brands or types available in the stores where I shop. So we have a real problem. We have to write and we do not have enough computers for students to write and work and often we don’t have enough pencils or paper. Today was a crisis because we must have pencils for the star test and almost didn’t have enough. We must find a solution for our pencil and technology needs before ready for the common core and the smarter balance assessments.
Any ideas or suggestions? Please let me know. I think I will do a grant for pencils. I’ve seen some that teachers have done on donors


  1. Sally Canzoneri

    Mr. S,

    Your problem is more likely due to pencil handling than pencil manufacturing. I’ve taught weekend, after school, and summer writing & art classes to kids for years, so I have a lot of experience with a wide range of pencils. When pencils are tossed and banged around (even very good ones, like professional level colored pencils), the lead can get broken inside the pencil. This only becomes apparent when you sharpen the pencil and the lead keeps breaking off.

    My guess is that your school got a batch of pencils in boxes that had been really badly handled. I’ve used a lot of cheap pencils over the years, as I’m a sucker for Dollar stores and colorful pencils, and have not seen a general decline in pencil quality. If a lot of the teachers in your school had the same problem, you might try to find a way to change suppliers. (I didn’t read enough to see if you are saddled with a centralized supply system which would make this difficult though.) if the school can order its supplies directly, try Staples or Nasco. Another thing to do is to be sure you are really getting HB/No. 2 pencils. Softer leads break more easily.

    Changing the subject, what is the iPad writing software you are piloting if you raise money for an iPad?

    Best Regards,
    Sally Canzoneri

    1. iteadmin (Post author)

      Thanks. I’ll look into pencil handling. We are stuck with central ordering, but we purchase many of our own pencils too.
      The software is GoWrite, soon to be released for iPad.


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