When you teach in the college classroom, it’s hard to keep track of the time. This is true during lecture, Q & A portions, learning activities with your students, student presentations, and yes…even breaks during long classes. You may create any number of different timers for yourself or feel free to access the ones that are available at no charge on http://meggin.com/DownloadsTimers.php
I got started using timers when I was still teaching at the university. Since nearly all of my classes met for three hours at a time, we always had a break mid-way through the session. It was easy for me to lose track of time because I was talking with students, answering questions from individuals, or handling concerns of groups who were working together.
To help keep *me* on track (and of course, to make sure students were getting their money’s worth from me by having a full class session), I started using timers created on PowerPoint. Originally, I just created “break” timers but then later, I found other ways to use timers in the classroom. Students responded well because they knew exactly how much time they had remaining. It also helped me feel more relaxed about taking the time with students that they were allowed rather than frantically looking at my watch and trying to remember what time the break had started.
I tended to use numerous cooperative and collaborative learning experiences within the class time and wanted students to stay focused on their tasks (instead of veering off into chit-chat, which could happen if they felt that had all the time in the world to complete their tasks). Using a timer that was displayed at the front of the room helped them feel a sense of urgency and to begin to bring their learning responsibility to a close as the time “ticked” by. This eliminated the frantic, “Wait, Dr. McIntosh! We’re not finished yet.” I was able to move smoothly between and among the student groups, glancing at the timer as needed. If I sensed that not enough time had been allocated for the task, then it was easy enough to go to the computer to readjust the time remaining.
A third use for timers are the using them during tests. It’s rather jarring to students’ concentration if you are booming out every few minutes, “30 minutes remaining,” or “You have 10 more minutes,” and the like. By creating a timer that displayed the time beginning at 1 hour, then showing it by ten-minute increments until it gets to the final 10 minutes, it helped students to glance up periodically and keep themselves on track.
You may create any number of different timers for yourself or feel free to access the ones that are available at no charge on
We might as well all keep sharing and investing our time where it makes the most sense. Enjoy these and enjoy your students and your classes!
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(c) 2009 by Meggin McIntosh, Ph.D., “The Ph.D. of Productivity”(tm). Through her company, Emphasis on Excellence, Inc., Meggin McIntosh changes what people know, feel, dream, and do. Sound interesting? It is!