One of the challenges of teaching in a block schedule is that some high school and many middle school students struggle to focus for 80 minute, 90 minute, or longer blocks of time. I always try to break up blocks like this into shorter segments with breaks. To prevent breaks from running too long, I always use a timer. I also use timers to time break-out activities. Whenever it is possible to do so, I like to display the timer countdown on a projector or whiteboard so that all of the students can see it. Here are eight free timers that you can use for these purposes.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Zero Noise Classroom is a free Chrome App that lets you simultaneously display a countdown timer and a noise meter to your students. The directions about how to use Zero Noise Classroom are kind of hidden in the app so I made the following short video to demonstrate how to adjust the settings in the app.
4. Timer Pop
allows you to create and save multiple timer settings. For example, if I
want to have a count down that lasts for five minutes, a count down of
fifteen minutes, and a count down of three minutes I can save them all.
Then when I need one of them I’ll just click on it to start the count
5. Online Stopwatch
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.
6. Online Egg Timer is a
simple website offering three countdown timers on one screen. You can
set just one timer or run all three at the same time with different
settings. Registration is not required in order to use Online Egg Timer. Just go to the site, set the countdown timer(s) using the up and down arrows, then click “start timers.”
7. Timer Tab is a free application offered through the Chrome Web Store and as a stand-alone website at timer-tab.com. As a Chrome app Timer Tab can be used online or offline. The website version of Timer Tab
can only be used online. Both versions of Timer Tab offer a count-down
timer, an alarm clock, and a stopwatch. For the count-down timer and the
alarm clock you can select a video to play when time expires or when
you’ve reached your specified alarm time. You do this by pasting the URL of a YouTube video into the “alarm” field below the timer. Also in both
versions of Timer Tab you can customize the background by specifying an
8. Timerrr.com offers two versions of
their free countdown service. The regular Timerrr displays a dial like
my grandmother used to have on top of her stove. The “egg timer” version
displays an egg timer as the countdown device. Both can be used to set a
countdown of up to sixty minutes.