Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Apimac Timer & Class Rotations
Apimac is a tool that I came across last year and used a lot in my classroom for various reasons. My favourite was using it as part of class rotations, which I will explain more further on.
Apimac is a timer with many different functions - my favourite being it's ability to use songs from your iTunes to notify the end of your timer. Along with being a timer it is a stopwatch and alarm clock. For a free download it packs some pretty strong punches. When the timer sounds Apimac will open your iTunes, play sounds, speak a message or sound out the time among a few of it's timer features. It's also available in a PRO version for a $45 - the PRO offers many more functions such as launching applications, sending emails, full screen mode and more at the end of your time.
In the classroom I am finding more and more uses for Apimac. To develop independence skills in the students as part of rotations I use Apimac to indicate when they need to swap to the next task by using the iTunes function rather than me stopping the class to move them along.
For example in Reading at the start of the reading session I let the students know how long the session will be, what song will play (this generally lasts 1 week) and what the expectations are for when the music is played at both times (middle of the reading session and again at the end). The students are told that when the music starts they have 3 minutes to finish off what they are doing and get themselves settled into their next task on the board. At the end of the session, the music indicates cleaning up and setting themselves up ready for the next subject on the board.
The students then go on to their tasks. Apimac runs on my laptop that is connected to a set of speakers. At the end of the set time Apimac plays the chosen iTunes song which is always roughly 3 minutes long. In this time I can continue teaching groups that I am working with, monitor and mark student work etc while the students organise themselves. The students learn to monitor their needs without having me remind them of what they should be doing.
In my year 4 class we have just begun using this as part of our rotations (last year I used this with Year 5 students) and already the students say that they prefer having the music break in rotations over me stopping them. It allows them to make decisions for themselves and the music adds a rather happy vibe to the classroom. Students also prefer having some time to finish off what they are doing, rather than being told to pack up things straight away. To be honest, who really enjoys stopping something straight away, when told to, when they are enjoying it!!