The other day I was assigned a task at school to administer a type of timed oral fluency test. I am not sure of all the details, but I didn’t mind as it seemed simple enough, and I’m a team player. I was asked and complied. A student is given passage to read aloud; I have a page to mark miscues. The student has one minute to read. I add up the words (each line on my score sheet has the total words in margin in cumulative fashion—surely there are many familiar with this assessment, but quite honestly this was my first experience with it.) So as I prepare I realize I need a timer. I ask about that and am provided a brand new little digital timer to use.
Just as I organize my desk for a middle school student to sit across from me, I realize the timer does not work. I am flustered because it is brand new–I opened the package. Sigh. It needs a triple A battery, just the size I do not have. Now I could have walked to another room and taken batteries from any number of remotes housed in the library–i work in mecca of batteries! But I remembered using an online timer before. A quick search offers me several that I can download, but don’t want t download a silly timer.
Now picture this conundrum. I have about fifteen students one at a time getting ready to participate in this assessment. I don’t have a timer. I even consider using the second hand on my watch, but realize watching the second hand would keep me from marking miscues. I need a timer that I can set and hear. So I decide to tap my network on the shoulder. I open Twitter and ask this question:
Can anyone point me to a REALLY SIMPLE online timer that will ding? Dont want to download
Now mind you Twitter has been catching flack around the blogosphere for any number of reasons, from a recent security issue to it not being the place for deep conversations. But I love the fact that I had a group waiting in the wings ready to rescue me with a quick solution to my dilemma. This is one of the reasons I like Twitter. In the limited 140 characters, I can use it to find quick answers, learn of larger issues, get links to deeper conversations elsewhere, and enjoy tv games or programs with a group of like minded people in my network. I had friends from all over the place make recommendations.
The Answer Is…
So what did I use. As Cheryl Toledo (of Normal, IL) had suggested very early, she tweeted about a timer she used on her MAC dashboard. Now I use a Mac at home, but I was at school. But her reference to that dashboard made me remember gadgets, and I use an iGoogle page which has many, many possible gadgets to add. So I turned to my iGoogle page, went to my tab labeled fun stuff, and searched for a timer gadget. In no time I had a simple timer that had a nice comforting “bling” to indicate time was up. Perfect for my needs, and “just in time” to serve my purpose. Thanks for the inspiration and indirect answer Cheryl!
Other timers recommended
Some of you may want to know what other solutions were offered, and ‘m not sure my TweetDeck image will show them, so I’ll list them here. A few were duplicated. All were pretty good and some downright funny!
But my point here is to say as many are dropping out of Twitter, I have yet to cease finding value in my participation. Twitter, even if I don’t jump in the mix daily, has the ability to make me laugh, enlighten me, point me to interesting, educational, and funny stuff, and has built me a network of those I can rely on for help. Even with some dropping it, I’m still in! I can’t imagine not having this resource in a time of need, as silly as that sounds.
Image: ‘09 seconds‘
Image ‘timer solutions’
A screenshot from my TweetDeck application