Yesterday, Cassandra wanted to set aside time to model how she uses Academic Challenge Time (ACT). I've got a pretty good idea on how she uses it.
She prompts the students with what she wants them to do and she'll give them a time limit to do it. If the students perform the task within the given time limit, they'll get a point. If they do not perform the expected task within the given time limit, they neither gain nor lose a point. If they are noisy, distracting, or have more out than what they need, the class loses a point. She used ACT prompts a lot while I was watching her, but she told me that she gave them a lot of prompts because the system is new to them, so she wants them to get familiar with which tasks they will need to perform to get points. My speculation is that eventually, I want to just stop giving them prompts and eventually, they will just be mechanized to act as needed when they are needed to. But, that means I just need to be consistent about when I want them to work quickly.
Here's an example of how I used ACT today. "Your backpack needs to be under your chair, your homework needs to be out, you should only have a pencil and eraser out. Do all of that by the time I count down to zero, and I'll give all of you a point." Once I start counting down, they move with haste. The only problem I'm having which is something that I need to prompt my students about tomorrow is that if someone is not moving fast enough, don't rush them. Some students are not used to moving fast, so it will take a little practice for them.
Today, they reached ten points. So, we immediately stopped what we were doing. Majority of the students wanted to play 7 up, so that's what we did. It was only five minutes. After we finished the one game that we were able to play, students were complaining that they had such little time to play. But, shortly after, they were focused on trying to get points again.
So far, the system is working well. The students want to work for the points and encourage each other to act accordingly in order to get those points. There's only one thing that I'm worried about. I'm worried about over time, students becoming numb to five minutes away from academic work. I'm worried about the joy of that five minutes of free time losing value for them. Oh well... I'll just have to wait and see.