This post originally appeared on the blog Math Dyal.

The classroom can never have enough pencils. Every period, at least one student doesn’t have/can’t find/dog ate their pencil. I used to fuss at them but it never really helped the situation.

Then one day I overheard a kid talking about how he couldn’t wait to upgrade his cell phone and my idea for free upgrades was born. I keep a stash of brand new pencils with perfect erasers. When a student tells me they don’t have a pencil, I take a perfect one from my stash. The pencil-less student is momentarily excited, thinking he is going to get a perfect new pencil. But that wouldn’t be fair, would it? Instead I tell the class I am offering a free upgrade and I let someone with a shabby pencil with a worn down eraser trade it in for a sparkly new pencil. Then the pencil-less student gets the traded in version. Everyone wins: Kids who bring supplies are rewarded with a new pencil and the students have an incentive to bring their pencils because they never know when I will offer an upgrade special. My middle schoolers love it and they often ask if I have any upgrades available.


Math DyalThis will be Mandy Dyal’s ninth year teaching math in Jacksonville, FL — six years in middle school, and now her third in high school. During the 2014 school year, she was chosen as her school’s Teacher of the Year and was then selected as one of the five finalists for Duval County Teacher of the Year — in a district of more than 8,000 teachers! Mandy believes in making her classroom fun and engaging— and loves using interactive notebooks and hands-on activities. Stop by her blog or TpT store anytime for some fun ideas!