Holding an even more hallowed place in my classroom than the Raffle King, is The Timer. “How much time do you think you need for the warm up? Six questions, five you have to copy… six minutes?”

“Seven.”

“Five.”

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. The Timer 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.

I never get tired of this. 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. 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.

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 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.