1. Exchanging supplies for a valuable item. Works great, but I hated the disruption and felt like valuable instruction time was lost.
2. Selling supplies. Also works great, as long as the child who doesn't have a pencil also doesn't have a quarter, which is likely. Then you have to decide if you are going to give the student a pencil or not and try to collect the quarter later. Too much hassle for me.
3. Expecting students to borrow from another student. This also works pretty well, but I started to feel bad for the same poor students getting hit up each day.
4. Providing supplies freely. Nice and non-disruptive, but supplies can go un-returned.
Providing supplies remains my method of choice. I try to set it up so the disappearance is minimized, and I live with replacing items occasionally in exchange for avoiding less-preferred hassles. This year, I am tweaking the location of my supplies.
Back story: I decided to test out this classroom arrangement I read about from Mathy McMatherson. It is pretty genius, really. All students can simultaneously see the front of the room AND interact with a group of four without re-arranging desks. I hate moving desks. I wonder how many opportunities I have missed to allow students to work cooperatively because I didn't want to move the stinking desks. I am hoping I will be able to move toward a more cooperative, student-centered classroom, just by removing that barrier. I'll keep you posted . . .
Bonus! This new arrangement allows for a supply caddy right in the middle of each table:
I found the shower caddies at Walmart for $.97. Each contains:
1. Two basic operation calculators.
2. A set of colored pencils and a pencil sharpener.
3. Two spoon pencils.
4. Two knife erasers.
5. A note card holder.
I am most excited about the note card holder. I plan to use it for any accessories that are specific to a lesson. It can hold math dominoes, puzzle cards, sorting cards, log war cards, and more. When I get to that part of the lesson, students can take them out without wasting any time on distribution.
Additional items I might include permanently or as needed:
6. Green fork pens.
7. Dry erase markers and erasers.
8. Scissors and glue sticks
9. Graphing calculators.
My hope is that I can trade a bunch of distractions and transitions for more instruction time.
Finally, I have been thinking about the inevitable. There will be broken, consumed, and lost or stolen items. How to minimize that? I have a few ideas:
1. Don't have the caddies out on the first day of school. Wait until there is time to give students clear instructions and expectations.
2. Have an inventory list on the side of the caddy. Part of the closing routine each day includes students double-checking to make sure everything is there.
3. Ask students to donate consumable items. Will they?
P.S. It turns out that Sarah posted something really similar earlier today. I decided to go ahead and publish this, but I encourage you to check out her version. She uses supply baskets in conjunction with interactive notebooks. I don't do ISN's, but I don't think I would want to try without reading up on all of her good ideas. And she says she'll post pics of her supply basket, so stay tuned!