Beacon Lesson Plan Library

The History of the Pencil

Wilma Horton
Miami-Dade County Schools


Through an Internet investigation, students gain knowledge about the history of an important tool used in school and complete a concept map and an essay.


The student applies a variety of response strategies, including rereading, note taking, summarizing, outlining, writing a formal report, and relating what is read to his or her own experiences and feelings.


-Pencil or pen
-Computers with Internet access
-Optional: Teacher may copy the Website on a CD and would need blank CDs and computer with capabilities to “burn” (make) CDs
-LCD projector for computer if PowerPoint presentations are elected
-Overhead projector if needed


1. Buy various colors of pencils and include several in the traditional yellow-orange color.
2. Draft rubrics or criteria checklists for concept map, essay, computer behavior, and cooperative learning.
3. Photocopy rubrics or write criteria on overhead transparency. (PowerPoint slides may also be used to display criteria.)
4. Prepare computers for Internet.
5. Optional: If using CDs, copy Websites to CDs.
6 . After reading the Website information, determine the depth of research required by students.
7. Access Beacon site to review concept mapping and think-pair-share. (See Weblinks)
8. Draft several general questions for students to locate the answers on the assigned Website.
9. Compile a list of students to share computers.


1. Pass out various samples of different colored pencils. Announce to the class that if they lived prior to 1770, they would have used bread crumbs to erase their pencil mistakes!

2. Ask students to describe on paper the physical attributes of the object being passed around.

3. Write on board or overhead or PowerPoint presentation this lesson’s title: The History of the Pencil.

4. Review lesson on concept mapping and think-pair-share with students. If students have never been exposed to these two teaching stategies, they might acquire the skills using a simple story (fiction or nonfiction) that would help them to practice prior to this Internet lesson . The think-pair-share concept can be taught at the same time as the concept mapping; the concept map is tangible, the think-pair-share is an action that they must do to get another's perspective and additional facts on the lesson being taught.

5. Review essay rubric. Many grammar/writing texts have them. Use them. (Do not reinvent the wheel.) Determine length of paper: a five-paragraph essay, three-paragraph essay, etc.

6. Review computer usage and behavior rules.

7. Pair up students at computers and ask them to look for weird and interesting facts on the pencil.

8. Students think, pair, and share their concept maps (notes).

9. Circulate among students and smile and encourage them to stay on task.

10. Students edit concept maps to reflect their respective partner’s perspective of the lesson.

11. Students turn in the first draft and edited version of their concept maps.

12. Teacher determines assessment by noting additional factual information from partner on the edited concept maps.

13. Encourage each student to write a summary essay on their research. Using the predetermined rubric, have peers proofread essays prior to submitting to teacher. Permit students to rewrite essay.


1. As a formative assessment instrument, the student fills in a concept map on the facts about the pencil. The concept map of each student must reflect information from their partner in order to fulfill assessment demands for Goal Three: Cooperative Workers.
2. The final written report is a summative assessment with evaluation criteria previously determined by teacher.


1. Gifted students may create a test for peers to take. The teacher may select several test items from each student for a class test, or may permit each student to create an entire test for their peers.
2. Students may be asked to imagine a world in which the writing utensil was never invented. This could be in the form of a presentation or an essay.
3. Students might write a report on graphite.

Web Links

Web supplement for History of the Pencil
Concept Mapping

Additional information on history of the pencil.
The Anatomy of a Pencil

Web supplement for History of the Pencil
Historical Information on the Pencil

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