Preferred Activity Time (PAT) Bank of Strategies for Teachers

What if we could build willpower and self-control in our students? As Roy Baumeister discusses in Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, one strategy to use in building willpower and self-control is to provide students with options, choices, or in this case contingencies also referred to as if x then y options.

  • If I run two miles then I can do ___ later today.
  • If I diet all week, then I can have one “cheat day.” 

Teachers can build willpower and self-control by using Preferred Activity Time (PAT) or contingencies with students. If we finish this activity, then we can do ____.

They key point is that the students are always learning. This is not about games for the sake of games. Learning is fun!

Our teachers got a lot of mileage from Learn Star, which uses a direct response system which allows students to answer teacher-designed or a predesigned set of questions. Our hardest to reach students loved PAT.

This is a link to the Tools for Teaching PAT Bank, which features an ever growing bank of games and activities to be used in Responsibility Training’s Preferred Activity Time (PAT). 

Any lesson/curriculum can quickly become a PAT by making it a team game. In addition to the activities below, any game show format used on TV will work.

Teachers commonly use Jeopardy, Family Feud, Twenty-One, Concentration, What’s My Line?, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, To Tell the Truth, and College Bowl. Also, see our PAT Tips page for some more ways to use PATs.

“Our sixth graders favorite PAT is jeopardy played with their world history vocabulary words. They complained when their PAT time was postponed because of a field trip! ‘Can’t we take the field trip another day, today is PAT time.'”

– Lynn Layman of Greathouse Elementary, Midland, TX


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