PAT Tips and Examples from
Do What You Would Be Doing Anyway
“Anything I teach can become a PAT,” says
elementary teacher, Debra Johnson, Dunlap, TN. “What?
How?” comes the reply from many secondary teachers.
It is difficult to get the mind-set that learning can
be turned into a game in high school. Fred says, “Don’t
think of your students as 16 going on 25, think of them
as 16 coming from 12.”
In Rush-Henrietta, NY, a science teacher spent the last
10 minutes of class summarizing the lab exercise or a
key concept. BORING! Enter Responsibility Training. A
Jeopardy style game turned the last 10 minutes of everyday
into a lively contest. The teacher allowed students to
use their notes and lab manuals, which meant everyone
was engaged in the review. Teams were assigned and kept
for the semester. Eventually, the students asked to use
the first part of their PAT for review in order to help
the weaker players. The teacher was happy to throw in
a few bonus minutes for that activity, and before he knew
it, his peer-tutoring program was in place. The results
were incredible - giant strides were made by all of his
students on the NY Regents Exam.
How much time did the teacher give up? None - he would
have reviewed anyway.
What did the teacher gain? Student participation in the
review! This alone is enough to make PAT worthwhile. In
addition, the teacher gained more instructional time because
students earned their PAT with quicker transitions, less
fooling around and more efficient clean-up.
Other Ideas For PAT
“With French, I have a lot of flexibility because
even a silly game becomes a mind-stretcher when done in
a foreign language,” writes Paula Egan Wright of
Cheyenne, WY. Paula’s 7th, 8th and 9th graders earn
an average of 30 minutes of PAT per week. Among their
favorite games from our training manual are Fingerprint,
Jeopardy, plus two variations of Academic Baseball (golf
Paula has also organized a Casino Day activity where
tables are pushed together and three to four games go
simultaneously. These are simple number and color games
in French such as UNO, Ninety-Nine, and easy dice games.
Along the “Something I Would Do Anyway” line,
Paula uses several PATs to make puppets, rehearse a puppet
show and take the show on the road to local elementary
Annette Patterson of Artesia, NM teaches a variety of
high school science classes. In physics, PAT has ranged
from short games of Yahtzee when studying probability,
to longer PATs where they build roadways to racecars while
studying centrifugal force and velocity. In her chemistry
course she uses a tag team relay where the kids run to
the board to point to symbols when she calls out the elements.
Annette tells us that this is especially good to wake
them up after lunch.
Deciding When and How Long
Assess your situation. There is no iron-clad rule. With
most secondary classes, 30 minutes once a week works.
However, you may find that you have a class where more
frequent reinforcement is to your advantage.
Frequent, But Shorter PATs
- Remedial math classes often profit from fast games
involving math facts on a daily basis.
- Title One teachers report that having something to
look forward to at the end of class helps with time
on task and reinforces basic skills.
- Many teachers, especially those with 90 minute class
periods, use incentives daily to help students stay
involved during the last 10 minutes of class.
Fewer, But Longer PATs
Claudia Gerhardt of Boise, ID has used PAT in a variety
of ways in her English classes since 1978. One honors
class, for instance, could defer gratification several
weeks. They saved enough PAT time to spend two class periods
watching part one and part two of long movies such as
Hamlet. Claudia has been comfortable using less academic
activities as PATs. After a long winter, an hour outside
to play softball worked for her. When asked what the educational
value of softball in a English course is, she answered,
“It never hurts to work on group cooperation while
having fun, or to show kids you care about more than English.”