Wednesday, August 28

Perplexing Pencil-Sharpening Pandemonium

How is that for alliteration?  We are all teachers here…right?  We all know the issues surrounding the seemingly simple act of sharpening pencils.  We all have been there…and tried this...and tried that...and still find ourselves frustrated and baffled.

I have tried multiple different electric pencil sharpeners, manual pencil sharpeners, hand-held pencil sharpeners, and management routines to try to get a grip on pencil sharpening in the classroom.  My first year of teaching we went through three electric sharpeners…THREE.  I have disassembled them again and again to poke out broken tips, scrape out crayon wax, and clean out eraser rubber (what is the fascination with sharpening erasers??).  I tried going back to the “old faithful” manual sharpeners...you know as well as I do that they just don’t make them sturdy anymore.

I have done the “Sharp Pencils/Need Sharpened” cups.  For some classes this may be the best option.  I unfortunately had the group of kids that year that would trade for no reason, hoard all of the blue pencils, and mix all the pencils up.  And I just couldn’t keep up with the re-sharpening…especially when it came to colored pencils.  I have had the rule “only the teacher can touch the sharpener”, but that of course means a constant stream of sharpening requests…ugh.  Then when a sub is in the room the kids can’t wait to get their hands (and crayons…and erasers…) on the sharpener themselves.  It’s been a perplexing problem.

Now I’ve read the reviews others have done on the “Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener”…touted as the “last pencil sharpener you’ll ever buy” and the “quietest sharpener for the classroom”.  I figured it was all hype.  It took me two years to finally throw in the towel and give this little baby a try.  What did I have to lose?  I’ve tried everything else.

First impression:  I love the fire engine red color  It is about the size of the average manual sharpener.  It comes with a clamp to attach it to a shelf or desktop. Thank goodness for the  how-to videos on the Classroom Friendly website because its operation is not what I expected.  You must first pinch the tabs and pull the chrome front away from the sharpener.  Once you insert the pencil you need not hold it at all…what?  I know, right?!  Simply turn the handle and the chrome front holds the pencil snug and guides it correctly.  Once the pencil is perfectly sharp, the sharpener stops.  Release the pencil by squeezing the tabs and admire your beautiful point!

The sharpener seems to be put together well.  It has a sturdy, heavy-duty feel that I love!  It is constructed of metal and has some weight to it.    This little powerhouse might be just what I’ve dreamed of for years…the last pencil sharpener I’ll ever buy!  Can it be true?  We will see how it holds up to classroom abuse.   But, I am impressed and dare I say very optimistic that it will live up to its reputation!


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