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PAT Tips and Examples from Secondary Teachers

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 and basketball).


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 classrooms.


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.”

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