Digital Learning & Teaching in Falkirk Schools

Digital technology to support learning & teaching

Countdown Timers and Random Name Selectors for Class Activities

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Sometimes in a classroom situation it’s useful to have a countdown timer.  Whether it is for a bit of fun to focus the pupils on the time available while waiting for pupils to finish a task within a deadline, or to use within a class quiz.

There is a free online countdown timer from which can be displayed on a computer (or whiteboard) and which also lets you choose a piece of music from a selection.  These include television and film theme music (like Dr Who or Pink Panther) as well as a classical selection (such as Pachelbel’s Canon).  And in addition you can upload your own mp3 track (obviously ensuring copyright and royalty compliance).

When you click “Countdown” the timer plays for the length of time specified by the length of the music track (there are tracks from which to choose from 30 seconds to over 7 minutes and many choices in between).  The music plays, and the screen colour changes showing the proportion of time still left to go, with colour variations the closer you get to the end of the time.

Classtools mobile-ready timer lets you add music or YouTube video and have multiple timesr which you can save according to your preferences for classroom use. can be used by a teacher to randomly select pupil names from a class list.  This can be used perhaps where a pupil is to be selected to report on a lesson or task, or to give a demonstration to the class. is an alternative countdown timer tool created by John McLear of Primary Technology which would work well in the classroom.  This is a random name selector. So it is designed specifically to provide the teacher with a tool for choosing a pupil’s name from a class, and then setting a timed task for that pupil before repeating with another randomly selected name.

A teacher simply enters the names of the pupils in a class (by clicking “Change Names”). Then to save this as a unique class list simply click on “Save and Share” and copy the generated website address.  This can then be saved as a link in a document, email or website or blog.  There is also the option to copy the embed code to embed the random name selector into the website or blog. Having done that simply click “Go” and the random name generator scrolls through the names, accompanied by a soundtrack. When the scrolling stops a name will be highlighted.  The teacher chooses the length of time the pupil has to now complete their task (perhaps a plenary report on a lesson) from 1 to 7 minutes. On selecting the stopwatch time a visual countdown timer appears on screen showing the time counting down. As it finishes the timer changes colour to red. The teacher can then choose to keep that pupil on the list or remove the pupil’s name before repeating the random name generator as often as required. This tool would be useful where the teacher wishes to randomly select pupils to present a report, give a demonstration, or undertake tasks, all within a pre-selected time. 

Random Name Picker wheel –  ClassTools provides this free online tool where you can add your class list then click on the wheel to randomly select a name. You can choose to remove names which appear so that they don’t appear again, or leave if you wish them all to remain in the choices.

Triptico is free downloadable software which is a suite of classroom tools designed to work with any interactive whiteboard as a classroom tool which can be adapted for use in many classroom situations. Click here for a detailed description of all of the tools by  Jose Picardo.  This software includes random name selector and countdown timer as part of the suite of tools available. The tools also provide for options to randomly group your pupils, or to have team scoring. There are gaming applications and task-specific applications which would be useful in many classroom situations.

Online Stopwatch is a site with a whole range of timing tools which can be used for a variety of classroom applications, whether timing activities or providing a countdown to signal the end of an activity. In addition to a very large countdown timer stopwatch there is also the option to present different screens displaying the timer such as egg-timer, chess-timer (two player timers), alarm clock, fused explosion, cash clock metronome and others. Each of these tools can be individually embedded onto a webpage or blog, making ease of access for a regularly-used tool possible for a teacher.

In addition to being able to be used online the tool can be download to your PC as flash files (which will work in recent versions of Powerpoint, Smart Notebook or via internet browsers) which will work without the need to then be connected to the Internet.

TimeMe is a free online timer tool which lets teachers customise how the timer appears on screen, so you can change the colour of the numbers or background, you can choose from a range of audio messages which will be heard at the end of a countdown or choose a pop-up on-screen message.

An idea which can be adapted from end-of-task selector to random pupil selector (or indeed combined to randomly select a pupil name combined to a random task) is Max Rayner’s Plenary Tool which is a Powerpoint template which can be downloaded. When displayed the Powerpoint has links from the coloured numbered squares – clicking on a square reveals an end-of-task activity (designed as a fun way of presenting different ways of pupils summarising the learning which has taken place at the end of a lesson or activity). Since it is downloadable as a Powerpoint presentation it can be edited by the teacher to have the number choices linked to a pupil name (perhaps also with an activity).

A6 Training has made available for use by teachers Powerpoint timer templates by David Foord. This is a single Powerpoint presentation which can be downloaded for free. Instructions at he start of the Powerpoint presentation explain how to use and how each timer can be adapted. So you can open and use a selected timer without need to change, or if you wish you can copy a chosen timer slides from this presentation into another presentation (each slide provides the link to provide attribution credit to the original site).

Where there is a wish to have a random selector based on numbers in a group Simon Haughton has created a Powerpoint student selector which has concentric circles and a simple start/stop pointer. So start it, then click stop and the pointer will slow to a stop on a number. If your group is made up of only two pupils then you look at the number the pointer stops at within the innermost circle. If groups of three then you look at the next circle outwards. If 4, 5 or 6 then choose the appropriate circle and the random pointer tells you the number of the pupil selected for the given task or activity.

Powerpoint Timers created by Jeff Ertzberger comprise free to download Powerpoint templates. Each can be adapted to use with your own class, changing text and images as required. The site provides instructions to adapting the Powerpoints to your own needs.

Smartboard and Powerpoint Timers –  these are free to download timers in different styles (eclipse or egg-timers in different time durations)  which can be used offline as part of a Powerpoint presentation or Smart Notebook presentation.

One Comment

  1. Random Name Selector is very handy tool to select the names randomly and the good things is that you have not to download anything 🙂

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