There are two types of tools that I use regardless of the subject I’m teaching or the students that I’m teaching. Those tools are random name selectors and countdown timers.
Random Name Pickers
From picking a line leader, to calling on a student during a discussion, to drawing a prize-winner there are plenty of times when we need an unbiased random name selection method. Over the years I’ve tried a lot of random name selector tools. I have two “old reliables” and one new to share with you.
Flippity.net offers a random name picker that can be used to select one student’s name at random. It can also be used to random create small groups of students. You can even use it to create a randomized seating chart! Try the demo here or watch my video for a demonstration of how it works.
Wheel of Names is a free random name picker website that not only lets you enter names, it lets you upload images to be chosen at random. Wheel of Names also lets you create a free account that you can use to save a series of wheels. That option could be helpful if you have multiple classes and don’t want to enter names whenever you need to pick a name at random. Watch this video to see Wheel of Names in action.
ClassPoint.io is a relatively new PowerPoint tool that includes a bunch of neat tools for teachers including polling tools, annotation tools, and a random name selector. The random name selector is demonstrated at the 6 minute mark in this video.
Whether I’m teaching high school students, guest teaching in an elementary setting, or facilitating a PD workshop I always use countdown timers to keep scheduled activities on track. Otherwise, I start talking to students and before I know it, an activity that was meant to be 15 minutes has become 25 minutes. The same is true when scheduling breaks. Here are the timers that I typically use to keep things on track.
Simply type into a Google search “set timer” followed by an amount of time and a countdown timer is displayed. An alarm beeps when time is up. You can make the timer appear full screen without advertisements by clicking a little box icon to the right of the timer.
Before Google included the “set timer” option I used Online Stopwatch whenever I needed a countdown timer. It is a free website that gives you the choice of a stopwatch function or a countdown function. You can set the countdown timer for any length of time and an alarm sounds when time is up. Make sure to use the “super full-screen” mode to avoid displaying ads in your classroom.
Russel Tarr’s Classtools Countdown Timer has two slick features. You can create and set multiple timers on the same page. This means that if you had students sharing in rapid succession you wouldn’t have to reset the timer for each student, you simply move onto using the next timer on the page. The second feature of note in the Classtools Countdown Timer is the option to add music to your timers. You can have your countdown timers set to music. Mission Impossible, The Apprentice, and Countdown are the standard music options. You can add other music by using the YouTube search tool built into the timer.
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