One day, Jay Edwards, a K-4 resource specialist at California's Hemet Elementary School decided that his classroom computer wasn't pulling its own weight. Declaring it a "slacker," he resolved to make his computer act as his personal school bell system. Computers should make life easier, according to Edwards, and since his own schedule was entirely different from the regular school bell schedule, that use was a way for his computer to get back into his good graces!
"A quick search on Google verified that others had had a similar notion," he explained. "The MP3 Alarm Clock 1.4 freeware by Mike Margolis is my favorite multiple alarm program. It provides up to 14 alarms, which can be set up to run on a particular day, every day, or every weekday. There's even a snooze alarm!"
Edwards day includes nine periods a day, during which he services five different grade levels in a school with no periods at all. The multiple alarms provide notice for students who come early that it's time to begin class, warnings that another group is on the way and it's time to wrap up, and reminders for students who have such special appointments as speech instruction. Of course, Edwards uses the bells to keep himself on time as well --for weekly playground duty and other events that are easy to overlook. The alarms worked so well in his own classroom that he shared the idea with readers of the NEA's Works4Me mailing list.
"Many multiple alarm programs allow the user to add wave files to the alarm sounds," Edwards said. "It's fun to pick wave files online and assign them to the beginning and end of activities, and to such weekly activities as library, computer lab, and music class."
Multiple alarm programs are easy to install, says Edwards. To begin, search "multiple alarms" and "freeware" to find a free program to try out. (If you love the multiple alarms, other programs are available for purchase.) Place the program in your startup menu so it boots up automatically when your computer turns on. Edwards recommends choosing very brief wave files (nothing more than two seconds long), because longer sounds can become annoying. Choose sound files wisely to make sure they're appropriate for the school setting. Some good selections include wind chimes and musical instruments.
"Save some alarm settings for yourself - to remind yourself of things like dentist appointments or the parent you want to call at lunch today," advised Edwards. "And you do go home, don't you?"
Article by Cara Bafile
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