This one isn’t exactly a rerun per se…let’s call it more of a rewrite…

This year’s crew has been a bit more, shall we say, trying, than any in recent memory. They’re nice enough for seventh graders and all, but they are really frying my bacon this year. So I have to get my kicks where I can…to sort of…take the edge off.

I devoted a short post to THE TIMER (AKA: THE CLOCK) way back when this whole blog thang started in ’08, but lately The Timer has been enjoying a bit of a renaissance, so I thought I’d share the wealth again.

Several years ago I started noticing that the incoming seventh graders were very used to getting as much time as they needed to finish warm ups and quizzes and such. The idea of a timed test or quiz was completely alien to them.

I couldn’t cope. At the time, I was using a Gateway Destination setup with a 32″ inch monitor and some fine speakers, so I went searching for a little countdown clock I could put in the corner of the screen to start training these kids to work with/against the clock.

“How much time do you think you need for the warm up? Six questions, five you have to copy… six minutes?”



“Ok, six.”

The Timer
The Timer

In my class, almost every activity, except the reading/discussion, is timed. In the upper corner of the lcd projection, there is always The Timer. It is such a part of what we do, that when I forget to start it, I hear about it.

“You forgot to start the clock.” (Followed by a chorus of shushing and “Why’d you tell him?”)

The Clock keeps us all moving right along. It allows them to set a pace that gets them done in time. It prepares them for standardized state tests and suchlike. Etc. Etc. But the best part is, The Timer plays a sound when you start…and when time is up. Any sound (.wav file) you want. And that’s where the fun begins.

Right now the start sound is a silly, high-pitched sort of teeheehee giggly thing. It actually sounds like the laugh of a student I had a few years ago. Everybody that year thought I’d taken the sound from her. But it’s the sound at the end that makes it fun.

I have pretty decent speakers attached to my class computer, so when the volume is up, and I choose, say, a screaming man sort of sound as the alarm at the end…well, the result is one of the unheralded perks of teaching middle school. They’re working away on the warm up, and don’t notice that time is running out…and then: Scream! The first few times, early in the year, I’ve had some fall out of their desks. There are inadvertent squeals (from boys too), screams, and almost all of them jump, if I have chosen the right sound.

Earlier this year we started doing more of our warm ups “one-at-a-time,” with the CPS clickers, and the clicker software has a countdown on the screen, so we haven’t been using the Timer as much. But lately we’ve been going old-school on our warm ups (no clickers!), so there isn’t the built-in clicker countdown, and I’ve been breaking out the Clock more often. Maybe it’s because we hadn’t used it so much recently and their immunity was wearing off? Maybe I just found the right alarm sound for this crowd? Anyway, their reactions have been an endless source of enjoyment of late. The collective scream today in one class was much louder than the alarm itself.  Almost rivaled our Pledge of Allegiance scream. I really thought I was going to need a mop in another class.

After a while, everyone gets to know who the jumpy ones are. Sometimes we try to warn them a few seconds before the end, so they can gird themselves (that only works about half the time), sometimes we just watch, and wait.

“We’re in the red zone now (the clock turns red when you’re under a minute), so those of you who are more… sensitive… might want to prepare yourselves.”

(40 seconds later)

“What did you say, I wasn’t lis…”


Hahahahaha. I never get tired of this.

Every year, before Back to School night, the kids make me promise I’ll use it on their parents. Our BTSN consists of 10 minute periods where the parents follow their student’s schedule, and we give our spiel. I tell the parents that I’m setting a timer so I don’t run long.

Yeah, that’s it.

Click on the picture of  The Timer to go to a listing of files. Right-click on each one and save them all to a folder called timer (or whatever). Read the “Read Me” file for how to change the sounds.

I like to change the sounds at random intervals. Keeps them on their toes.