Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Keeping dictation shorter

I have the hardest time keeping my children on task during our Riggs dictation. They can turn a 10 minute spelling or phonogram test into an hour if I let them. I admit that I’m easily distracted by the youngers and can tend to lose track of time so I’ve been on the hunt for a free timer program that would help keep us on track, but the ones I had used would always restart at zero and I wanted one that would let me restart back to 30 seconds after each phonogram or word as the case may be. I finally found what I was looking for! :) It’s called TimeLeft and its basic version is free.

imageI chose to keep it down to its bare bones and do without the title, headers, play/pause and restart buttons. This allows me to have a very small timer which remains on top of all windows, but which can easily hide in less used parts of my screen. There are easy to remember keyboard shortcuts for start (ctrl+s), pause (ctrl+p), and reset (ctrl+r).

Here’s how I use it. I get the timer window active, press ctrl+s to start it, then say the phonogram or word that is being tested on and press ctrl+r to reset it back to 30 seconds (or however much time I’m allowing for each item). Then if they beat the timer, I say the next thing and press ctrl+r again. If they don’t beat the timer and it dings, they leave that space blank (and subsequently get it wrong) and we move on to the next phonogram/word. They really don’t like having to skip one so they try real hard to beat the timer.

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