Free Countdown Timers for Classroom Applications

In my flipped organic chemistry class, active learning is encouraged by asking questions and posing problems for students to solve (see my post “Enough with the Lecturing“.)  To foster engagement, students record their answers using student response devices, “clickers”.  As an aside, I, unfortunately, have found that a grade needs to be assigned to their work for them to take it seriously.  Most of the time, the questions require the students to work out the solutions.  They are allowed to use anything at their disposal to arrive at a solution including notes, textbook, collaboration with other students, etc.  In these cases, students are given amounts of time to work out the answers commensurate with the difficulty of the problem.  lightning_roundHowever, on occasion, we have what is called a “lightning round” in which objective questions which should not require any in depth discussion or complicated reasoning to answer are asked.  These questions must be answered individually with no aids as if they were quiz questions.  During the lightning round, the students are typically allotted 30 seconds to one minute to log their responses depending on how long it should take an average student to read the question and possible answers.  To ensure that I do not close the polling  too quickly, or leave it open too long, I add countdown timers to each question slide.  One of the timers I like is a little hour glass “animation” that empties just like an old fashioned egg timer.  When the “sand” has all gone from the top to the bottom, I close the polling.  The images below show the timer at the start, a midpoint, and at the end.

countdown screen shot countdown screen shot2 countdown screen shot3

These timers are part of a package containting a variety of different styles designed by David Foord.  All are free for use in educational or non-commercial applications.  If you have a use for countdown timers that work in Power Point, you can download them from A6 Training.



An Unusual Way to Present Introductory Information on a PowerPoint Slide

Sometimes an interesting opening slide can get your audience’s attention.  There is a website that will generate a “newspaper clipping” that can be used to create an unusual introductory type of slide.  All you have to do to generate a clipping like the sample one I’ve added Sample_Newspaper_graphicis go to the newspaper clipping generator and type in a fictional name for your newspaper, a date, a story title and some copy.  The site will generate a jpg graphic file that you download to your computer and insert as a picture on your slide.  I just grabbed something from one of my chemistry students senior seminar abstracts to make this sample graphic.  The entire process took about a minute.  This is not something that should be overused, but I thought it might be an interesting way to present introductory material….and yes, your audience is going to read it, but it could be part of what you are saying in your introduction.  Clicking the link above will take you to the graphic generator.