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25 ways to get silence from noisy students

Hi there! A few years ago I put together a short e-guide titled '25 ways to Get Silence From Noisy Students'. It has been downloaded THOUSANDS of times by teachers all over the world. You can GET YOUR COPY BELOW, but I also want to draw your attention to the growing list of COMMENTS relating to this blog post (also below).

Since posting the blog post, hundreds of teachers have kindly shared THEIR OWN tried and tested ideas for gaining student attention and keeping noise levels down in the classroom. Read them, try them out and let us know how you get on. The blog post is proving to be a very popular and useful resource; you can also help us make it EVEN BETTER for teachers like you around the world by leaving YOUR best classroom management strategy for getting noisy groups of students to stop talking when you need their attention in the comment box below. Try to keep your idea as succinct as possible and be sure to keep coming back here to see the new ideas.

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154 comments
Jonathan says 28th March 2017

Sorry forgot one…Also picked this up at a conference. If I’m having trouble I tell my students to point to where the noise/talking is. I keep repeating it in a conversational tone until the people talking or making noise realize that the whole class is pointing at them. An unexpected byproduct of this has been that by the time all my students have stopped being disruptive I’m the only one talking (“point to where the noise is coming from”) and everyone is pointing at me which means I now have their attention!

Jonathan says 28th March 2017

When my class isn’t doing what they need to be doing I start either counting to three and/or saying something like, “you are too loud, 1” “You are too loud, 2” when I get past three I ring a small bell-hop style bell on my desk and begin…the Sad Face. It starts with a circle, then and eye, another eye, a nose, and finally a frown. When a class gets to that point we immediately stop whatever activity we are in the middle of doing they get out their textbooks and begin to copy down material on what we were just studying onto a sheet of paper. Class time is still being spent on the content we were covering, but in a far less fun manner. It has been down right Pavlovian to see the change. If my hand so much as moves toward to bell (even if I haven’t counted) they get quiet. Only had to resort to copying 2-3 times the whole year! They’ve become so conditioned that it even works outside of the classroom when there’s no way we could stop and copy. Other teacher have started copying this methodology some with greater or lesser success.

Rebecca says 28th March 2017

I have music on (Country, Beatles, classical, any modern stuff… whatever) when they come in. By the time everyone is in the class, they’re supposed to be standing and waiting for me to say “Please sit down”. At that point, they should all become silent before the music gets turned off. Whoever is still chatting at that time gets extra homework (1 extra exercise, or 5 sentences to write… )

With my tounger classes, graded 6 and 7, I tell them that if they work well all week, we’ll stop work 10 mn early on the last day, and watch a cartoon. Fun… but useful too, as we then comment upon the cartoon. I teach English as a foreign language, so the kids are encouraged by the fact they are capable of conversing.

I take off demerit points for chatting on the term grade, but take off less if they’ve chatted in English. They know chatting will lose them points, no matter what the language, but the fact that I only take off half the amount for English shows them I value the fact they’ve leant enough vocabulary to do so.

in fact, one of my classes was so bent on chatting that they made up vocabulary sheets on all the interesting subjects (partying, going out, boyfriends… ) and passed them around to all members of the class, to refer to so they could chat in English and lose less in the process. I was so amazed I picked up the sheets and gave extra points to the kids who’d made them, a bonus on their creative writing grade.

Adam Gilbert says 3rd May 2013

I was amazed how well this worked (and I don’t think it’s been mentioned before). I just stood at the front of the class, closed my eyes and put a big smile on my face. I waited a little while, and then I said in a calm and quiet tone of voice, “Yes, I can see how nice and quiet Panda Class is. Everybody is sitting down nicely with their hands folded and ready to listen to the teacher. ” By that time it was already super quiet.

Vixx says 3rd May 2013

I say “show me ready” and my grade 1 students show me what that looks like–sitting properly at their desk, quiet, and ready to listen.

Jane says 2nd May 2013

I have a cheesecake challenge operating. When I want students to work with no talking so that their concentration is enhanced, I give them a time frame of absolute silence. This depends on how long the task should take. If no one breaks the silence and all work is completed satisfactorily I make a cheesecake. I never buy one and the students know I have put effort into it and they appreciate it all the more. (I have been asked by one mother if I would make one for her son’s birthday as mine was so much better than hers. I gave her the recipe and found it was exactly the same as hers but the ‘challenge’ made it special)
One student in year 7 said one word, one minute before time was up, no cheesecake. Class was devastated. Word got around school to all classes that I meant what I said. 10 years later and students still now that cheesecake challenges are worth it and that once one boy spoilt it for the whole class. I now implement it a little differently by having the reward more long term. All classes will get a cheesecake at the end of term if they are silent by the time I count down from 3 when I want class silent, looking to me and awaiting instructions.
I have been given a certificate by a senior leaving class at their formal/prom, called the Cheesecake Challenge Award.

    Grace says 2nd May 2013

    Is the cheesecake ready before the challenge or do you make it after and bring it next day?

skundberg says 1st May 2013

If I want to adress the class and only parts of it is paying attention, I say “Put your hand on your head if you can hear me now”. They who listen, do, then I lower my voice and say “Put your finger on your nose if you can hear me now”, then I lower my voice almost to a whisper and say (and do) “Put your finger on your chin of you can hear me now”. By then, the students that talk and don’t pay attention notice that the rest of the class is doing something strange, and is hushed and either gets curious or slightly embarrassed that everyone else is engaged in something. When everyone is quiet, I have their attention (for a litte while) and can give my message.

Jo Todd says 1st May 2013

I play a short ditty on my trumpet and they know that that means to stop what they are doing and listen. Everybody can hear it!!!

km says 14th April 2013

Put a yellow infraction slip in front of student to remind them to be quiet or stop whatever behavior they shouldn’t be doing.

Lindsay says 10th April 2013

In one of the classes I was in, we would say Claaaaaaaaaass? And they would all respond with a “Yeeeeeeeeeees?” Then you make it fun, “classidy class class?” “Yessidy yes yes?” It always makes me smile to see the students respond to my silly ways of saying the word class.

    Josh says 11th May 2013

    Where did you get this idea? It sounds like one I saw on a brain training/teaching site I saw a long time ago.

Serenabrobins69 says 23rd February 2013

I count down from five and signal with my fingers high in the air.

Classroom Management Strategies | 25 classroom management strategies to get silence from a noisy group of students says 12th February 2013

[…] I hope you liked the ideas in this little report. For hundreds more ideas like these from our teaching colleagues around the world, be sure to visit the following thread on our blog: http://www.behaviourneeds.com/blog/2013/01/31/win-a-free-copy-of-take-control-of-the-noisy-class/#di… […]

Fidud says 8th February 2013

One of the children in my class went to India with her family and brought me back a beautiful singing bowl. When I want the class to become quiet I tap it lightly and then play it. A wonderful eerie sound seems to get louder and louder until all the children have heard it and become quiet. It is magical.

Joannbudrys says 5th February 2013

At beginning of year teach them that when you put your hand up they have to follow suit and all stop talking. by time all hands are up room needs to be silent. It works well as they see it as their secret ritual and last one to react can be given a job like clean the board, empty the bin etc.

TeacherR says 4th February 2013

I turn on a kitchen “ticking” timer. I say “you all need to be able to hear this ticking, if you can’t hear it, then it is too loud.” They all are quiet so they can hear the ticking!

Luframac says 4th February 2013

i show them a little object in my hands and grab students’ attention by making all of them to have their eyes on the whatever thing. then i could move the object and make sure sts’ eyes are following it

Toroboy. says 4th February 2013

This might sound strange…………but it works: 
I just say “hands up if you’re still talking”.Its funny because some students do raise their hands and then realise what they have just admitted to. Gets silence (and some laughter).

Sandu Harrell says 3rd February 2013

I just say, “boys vs. girls… game on” and the first gender to speak after I say this causes the opposite gender to receive a point. Then I same, “game two” and we continue with the same process. Points are tallied as a student job. Which ever group gets to 10 points first earns a Jolly Rancher. Then we start over. They love it.

    Swansonp says 6th February 2013

    If one team was “running away” with the points and the other team was giving up, you could say “double or nothing”.

Nichola Sheath says 3rd February 2013

I use a touch bell as in the one from a yes no game. Very indiscrete no raised voices and has the desired affect.

Marie-Claude says 3rd February 2013

I teach FSL. I say “attention” with my hand up and they respond “tout le mode”. I then use my raised hand to do a 5-to-1 count down and they all know to have eyes and ears for me and pencils down. If some of them are not cooperating, I start giving my instructions and walk to my class chart at the front of the class. It is a Bristol board with library-cards pockets stuck to it with each students’ name. Each pocket has three colored cue cards; first green, followed by yellow and finally red. I take the student’s green card and put behind the other 2 (warning) while continuing my instructions. The student(s) stop right away and if he/she is not aware of the change in card, a near by student will quietly give him/her a cue to look at the pocket chart. If I need to put the yellow card behind the red one, the student stays in at the next recess and I write a note to parents in the agenda.

Dee says 3rd February 2013

When students are getting too loud while working, I ring a bell. They get quiet immediately and I do not have to yell to get their attention.

Linda says 3rd February 2013

I stand in front of the class and do arm gymnastics eg. one arm by my head and the other arm stretched out to the side and change the movements quickly.

Meri says 3rd February 2013

I sing some words to the class (listen to me) and they reply singing back to me (listening to you)

Jodie says 3rd February 2013

I use  clapping pattern.  Many teachers stop after the first or second pattern.  I make a bit of a game of it by adding an extra clap to the sequence each time. Eg 2 hand claps, 2 hand claps and 2 head, 2 hand claps, 2 head, 2 shoulder and so on. When I have got everyones attention I then do 2 claps and fold my arms and then the students are ready to listen with their arms folded.

Teacher says 3rd February 2013

I hit three consecutive notes on a kid’s xylophone and  say, either “1, 2, 3” and the kids respond , “eyes on me.”  or if working in groups , i say, 8-9-10″ and kids respond, “be quiet, again).  simple and it works, everytime.  

Leighgray7 says 2nd February 2013

I sing.  Usually the first verse of Mercedes Benz, by Janis Joplin.  Kids (in my case teenagers) who have had me often enough to learn it can join in if they want.  By the time I get halfway through it’s almost always quiet.

Jonsey says 2nd February 2013

I just look at them and say class class and they look at me and say yes, yes. The one who isn’t paying attention gets to come up and write the first problem or the first sentence of whatever we are working on. Works everytime, noone likes to come to the board and be the center of attention unless it’s a group activity.

Suepars says 2nd February 2013

I also use the GIVE ME FIVE. strategy but I have seen teachers use a clapping pattern that the students have to copy. As they start clapping they stop talking. By the time the teacher claps a second pattern even the most talkative 5th graders have stopped talking and are matching the clap.

Donnashade says 2nd February 2013

3 claps usually does it cos that’s my agreed signal for attention and eventua silence.  failing that, i once wrote on board that if they got ‘ quiet’ quick, i would do a dance at the end of the lesson.  at some point, kids realized what was on the board and it went quiet. at the end of the lesson, i put on youtube and did a little dance. 

Lizcamp says 2nd February 2013

I say to the class Give Me Five which they know means: Eyes looking, Ears listening, lips closed, Hands and feet still and brain ready. I count down from 5 to 1 and expect all the children to be ready.

Yasaman Shafiee says 2nd February 2013

Hi. I ask them to make a circle, and then I sing The Itsy-Bitsy Spider and ask them to shout or to say “Eek!” and jump whenever they hear the word spider. Or I fast forward If You’re Happy and You Know It and ask them to do the actions as fast as possible. Afterward, they usu. don’t have the energy to make noise for a while.

Linda_learntoshine says 2nd February 2013

I say to the students, “Back to me” and they respond, “I’m back.”  I also have students say, “listener” or “speaker” to remind students of their role.

Maryarno says 2nd February 2013

I also use the raised hand/ arm as a visual cue, and count backwards softly 5, 4, 3… I have never got to to 1.
It is also helpful to use consistent specific places in the room for attention for instruction, roll marking, and correction ( different for each). Once they learn these they will often respond automatically when you move to the spot.

frothquaffer says 2nd February 2013

Double hand clap and a raised arm. All students zip their lips and raise 1 arm. 

AnnieOakley says 2nd February 2013

train the students to say “I can” or other affirmation as I say 1-2-3.

Dartan6 says 1st February 2013

Hi I have just started teaching and something I learnt from a teacher on one of my practicums was to just simply raise my arm. It’s amazing the response from the students because they are simply wondering what I am doing and they become quiet. So now I say when my arm is raised eyes this way I need to communicate with you, never any need to raise my voice. If I am consistent with this it works a treat 🙂

Mogwai says 1st February 2013

I stand at the front of the class with my hands clasped together and wait. This is the signal for my class that I am waiting for them. This works really well for the younger students.

Iwlmurdoch says 1st February 2013

Unexpected praise always works well for me. Tell the pupil who seems disengaged during a lesson that you were really impressed by what they achieved last time and that now is the time to prove that last lesson was the norm and they’re just having a bit of a bad day. Also asking ‘Did your Head of Year mention that I’d spoken to them about how well you did last week?’ even if you haven’t actually done this, usually works. They believe that if they repeat their good performance you will remind the Head of Year. Amazing how much weight kudos in the eyes of someone in authority has.

Shari says 1st February 2013

I sing (very badly) until they all look at me in horror and stop talking. For a minute.

Smithdiana7 says 1st February 2013

I use positive praise for the appropriate behaviours and if a child does soemthing outstanding I do a little dance xxxx

Doug Squires says 1st February 2013

I have a 10minute sand timer bought off ebay for a few quid. It is called Egbert, top set year 11 to bottom set year 7, all know about egbert. I ask for quiet, if it does not happen I reach for egbert and let the sand fall until they are silent. The whole class stays in at break, in silence, until the time is made up.  They very quickly get the idea and the warning egbert egbert goes round the class as soon as I pick it up. Its visual, slightly funny, non verbal communication and they can’t argue with the egg timer!

Dawn Brosius says 1st February 2013

With a group of younger elementary students,  I will (sometimes with a hand puppet, sometimes without) begin speaking in a different accent ie: British, western, Irish etc.  This usually gets the attention of a few students who start pointing and giggling, causing the rest of the class to give me their attention.

Chelsea says 1st February 2013

I quietly go up to the board and write a “bonus” question. The students know (established at the beginning of the year) that if they write down the question and answer before I erase it, they get points. These can add up to coupons that are worth: get out of class 2 minutes early, 5% increase in one lower grade on daily work, extra time on the computer, etc. They become very aware when I am moving towards the board without me having to say anything. Works well. 🙂 

Chris Allsopp says 1st February 2013

I work with 11-16 year olds who are of the more challenging students in various schools.

Before the class starts I draw in the top right of the white board a guage – this is a bar with part of the bar coloured in (a little like a magnet) The coloured portion is the amount of work I expect to be done whilst the unshaded portion is the time we will spend on ‘fun’ activities such as sport. If the class cecomes too noisy I simply walk to the board and slowly shade more of the graph in, at least one of the students will normally see me and it’s a simple case of peer pressure to bring the noise level back down.
All the students know the guage is there and what it means, so really they write their own destiny.
Further to this, I have already explained that the original coloured portion is the work that needs to be done so if not during this class/lesson/session than it’s added to the next and the next and so on… we always try to have a trip out every half term so if there is no empty guage left  – no trip!

Lvmeaker says 1st February 2013

To get my noisy class to attention, I stand in front, hands in the air and start clicking my fingers. This is usually enough to get their attention, but if not I will then clap hands above my head, they soon start following, then I click fingers 3x and fold arms. I now have their attention.

Mbee says 1st February 2013

To get my students’ attention I say in a normal voice: “Class, class” and they reply: “Yes, yes”. They love it (Grade 4). During noisier activities, we use a little bell with a nice sound. When the students hear the bell, they stop, face me and are quiet and I can give them my instruction. For behaviour, we use one warning. If the person offends again, he/she gets a yellow card, which is recorded at the end of day. We have a system of different cards and each has different consequences.

    Josh says 11th May 2013

    Where did you get this activity? It sounds like one that was taught on a brain training site I saw a long time ago.

Antoinette says 1st February 2013

I teach 5-6 year olds. To get them quiet I start to clap in a simple rhythm loud enough for the sound to be heard in their noise. The students one by one then hear the difference in the noise around them and start to follow the pattern.  when all are in the clap pattern, I stand before them, stop the hand rhythm and them give them verbal clap instructions ( 3 claps, 2claps, 1clap, 0 clap). they are then quiet and waiting for the next set of instructions and I can begin my next lesson.

neovi m says 1st February 2013

Early on in my long career I discovered a simple and effective, least intrusive, energy-saving for all concerned and preserving of everyone’s  ego: smile with your eyes and tinkle a glass with a metal teaspoon! Works a treat!

juliehig says 1st February 2013

I watch the noisy students with my Action Man binoculars – it never fails to silence the whole class. The Early Learning Centre telescope works well too!

Fvessey says 1st February 2013

Frank Vessey
My behaviour strategy is one warning and the next time the student has a dentition. If I am teaching, I simply say the name of the student followed by “first warning”, then continue teaching. If they say anything back to me, (or re-offend), I say ” (name) you now have a detention at lunch”. I usually just put their initials on the edge of the board and keep teaching. I rarely have to say anything more than “first warning” now to have the talking stop.

Petag says 1st February 2013

I acknowledge those students doing the right thing, often with a quiet “thank you”  – they are happy that their behaviour has been recognized and gradually silence spreads through the class.

Cherie A Staples says 1st February 2013

The quieter I am the quieter they become. During the quit time I am sure to make eye contact with my noisiest student.

Johnson O says 1st February 2013

The quickest: I commend those/groups on task; others simply keep quiet to be commended too

Mcclenaghan Douglas J says 1st February 2013

Well, you could do as one of my colleagues does and always ‘miraculously’ get good classes! But for the rest of us mortals the best long term strategy is to have credibility so that when you need to get their attention you can, because they know you’re worth listening to.

Anne Cooper says 1st February 2013

I don’t say anything but start writing up on the whiteboard . . . . . . .If I see you being quiet and sitting on the floor reading your book( any direction you wish to give) I will write your name here with a number. When the bell goes I will start rubbing your names off and then you may go out to play. Congratulations! BUT your name can be rubbed off before this time if you are not following this message.(or something similiar to this, varying it according to age group and reading ability). It usually works well!

Nkz76 says 1st February 2013

when I see a student on task I will say “Thanks, ______” Students love to hear their names in positive ways!

Juanell Sunderland says 1st February 2013

Raising three fingers and counting down: 3 Eyes on me, 2 Facing front, 1 mouths closed. Sometimes I might need to repeat “1 mouths closed” with one finger on my lips, but not often.

Bcurl says 1st February 2013

Raising my hand and putting a finger across my lips gets me attention and quiet almost immediately!  Thanks for the tip!

Patty Smathers says 1st February 2013

I raise my voice, get their attention, and say, “I don’t want to write referrals, so let’s quiet down and make it a great day” for all of us.  Patty

Mrs. Ally says 31st January 2013

To gain my pupils attention, I blow a soft horn. Then I open up the board which has traffic lights up on it. Children’s photos are on cars. All students start off on green, warning is amber lights and red means last warning. Each Friday, everybody on green gets to pick a fun activity to take home. Those on amber choose an extra piece of work to complete as homework. Those students on red will need to complete that homework activity during recess on Monday. So when they hear the horn, arms are folded ready to start. If class gets a little noisy, I remind them about the traffic lights. 

Now some children will go to amber then red, but using positive reinforcement when doing the correct behaviour, means their name goes back down to green. (have used this technique  for years and would like to thank who shared this idea, but I can’t remember where I got it!).

Another technique I have used is the simple: Teacher “1, 2, 3, eyes on me”, Students “1, 2, my eyes are on you’. Brings their focus to you before during a lesson.

Jody says 31st January 2013

I begin the class with a game of hangman- I tell the kids,as soon as they sit down, we will begin to play. Then I pick a title that relates to the subject I was introducing.  I review the schedule and try to introduce a community service project that teaches citizenship and current events.  Students like to do projects that empower them.  

Serenity Sid says 31st January 2013

In order to get my pupils attention, I will stand in front of the class with arms folded and say “Arms folded” and the pupils will respons by folding their arms and with reply, “I’m ready”. They know that by doing so, I am all set to start my lesson.

Margot Guerra says 31st January 2013

To gain their attention, I start with a topic of  interest, then I start lowering my voice, at  first it´s hell but at the end they all make silence.Another technique that I use is raising my hand. They know it means to make silence.As they quite down I expect all hands to be raised.

barb Mclachlan says 31st January 2013

I standin front of my class with my hand up and count backwards from 5 with my fingers (no voice) if they are no quiet by then I look at my clock in an obvious manner and time them untill they are all quiet. However long they take they owe me double at recess or luch. Takes about 30 seconds at the most. BUT you have to follow through,
Barb

Jane Agard says 31st January 2013

whoops ! …raise your raise below should read raise your hand !

Platimer says 31st January 2013

I often use a short rhyme to grab my student’s attention. First, I say, “Eyes to me.” Upon which the students are to put down their pencils or whatever it is they are currently doing and respond with, “Eyes to you.” That way, they are vocalising what it is they are meant to be doing, instead of me having to tell them. It works quite well, but there is always one or two students which fail to stop their activity, in which case I say their names followed by, “Eyes to me.” They really don’t like having to individually respond then. It works a treat. 

Jane Agard says 31st January 2013

I use the “Give me 5” strategy from Carolyn Webster Stratton’s Incredible Years/Dinosaur School.  It works across ALL key stages and works like this : TEACH your class/es that when you raise your raise in the air you expect them to show 5 Behaviours (not copy you by raising their hands too !)
1.Eyes on me 2.. Ears open 3.  Mouths closed 4. hands in lap /wherever 5.  Feet on floor   

Tina Ou says 31st January 2013

Stop talking, put one hand up and count down on your fingers from 5 to 1.During that time you have to be calm and confident even if you are already annoyed.Then your calmness will pass to the students and gain you their attention. It works every time!

    Luframac says 4th February 2013

    pretend to be calm… I like your point of view… and will try to put it at work asap

L M Barnes says 31st January 2013

I have a  “Secret Student” each week.  The pupils do not know who it is…if he/she is quiet & engaged the whole class gets a reward at the end of the week (and the secret student gets named & praised)  If the secret student has been noisy or not working, nobody gets the reward (although the individual does not get named)  I put a reminder on the whiteboard “Are you this weeks Secret Student?  Are you earning our reward?”

    Tina Ou says 31st January 2013

    I like this strategy, but I have some questions: what type of reward do you give them? How old are your students? How many students in your class?

    Josh says 11th May 2013

    Where did you get this idea? It sounds like one Rob Plevin teaches in his program.

Dmeredith says 31st January 2013

Hi – I use the 3-2-1 system with middle school. I am in the specific spot in the class that I give directions and discuss their learning goal for the day. The student know that by 1- all mouths are closed and I have their attention to quiet a noisy class – switch thrombosis group activity to reporting out or another activity, etc. Works like a charm!

Mrs Willing-to-try Anything says 31st January 2013

A clip from ‘Waterloo Road’ (early series when it was better and which current students haven’t seen), to open and the promise that watching a bit more will be the reward for hard work if enough is achieved!

Sciencelabman says 31st January 2013

i use a dog training clicker!!! 4 clicks…stop…pens down.. fold arms…. look at me…listen. works really well.

MadameT says 31st January 2013

I start timing the time it takes to get quiet on my Iphone (free chronograph app) and deduct the same amount of time from recess. It gets quiet rather quickly when they see me reach for my phone.

Angela says 31st January 2013

I meet the students at the door with a smile and a sign.  The sign may change but it’s my way to communicate my expectations as we start our day together.  One example could be I “Heart” a Silent Start “.  I make sure to be in the doorway, one foot out in the hall and one foot in the room with my body just close enough where only one student can come in at a time and I smile and nod my head with eye contact at each individual.  This aides in slimming down the idea that groups can bust through the door together and has (believe it or not) a calming effect on the group.  Once in the room, there is always a “Do Now” starter activity that has the instructions on the board. This is something that could be review or practice quiz or overarching big idea question that is lined to the lesson for the day.

    Josh says 11th May 2013

    Where did you get this activity? It sounds like the one Rob Plevin teaches as part of his program.

Kat Brossmer says 31st January 2013

I use a low-toned gong which I ring 3 times as a single that something is about to change in the room. I make sure that one of the activities which students tranisition into is a learning game where they can interact with each other.

Belliboep says 31st January 2013

Slam a book down hard on a table, grab the noisiest kid by the throat and start strangling.

Carla Kyle says 31st January 2013

I had teachers say “Hello Class” and we said “Hello Mrs. X”

VLinville says 31st January 2013

Have a cue set up with the class where they answer in unison (Whole Brain Teaching by Chris Biffle) to whatever you say.  (For example, if you say, “Claaasss. . .”, then your students would answer with, YEESSS. . .or Yeesss Mam.”)

    Josh says 11th May 2013

    Love the fact that you quote your sources. It is great because I can go there for more. Thank you. I couldn’t recall this teacher’s name and have been looking for it for a long time. Thanks!

Bgroves says 31st January 2013

I explained the concept of ‘investing’/ ‘banking’ in your future. If you imagine a 55 min lesson as £55, how much are you just blowing every lesson by mucking about? How much are you ‘banking’/’investing’ in your future? Leads to good conversations about what they want to spend money on/ jobs in future/ crtieria to get there. Once they heard the spiel all you have to say is ‘How much are you banking of today’s lesson?

Bokkieinuk says 31st January 2013

As I can speak Afrikaans I start babbling away in that – they all quickly drop silent in wonder!

Mandy Graham says 31st January 2013

I use the computer (linked to SMART board) to write

..thank you for working quietly … and then list instructions

I have also typed on the board

… please pack up quietly and stand behind your chairs,  its nearly the end of the lesson.

Its surprising how quickly students notice changes on the board!

Candyevans says 31st January 2013

Sometimes I start signing what I am trying to say or speak French or with a foreign accent or like a valley girI or I just get theatrical!  This gets middle schoolers attention!

Eddietown says 31st January 2013

I just walk to the front of the class and eyeball the back wall and stay absolutely silent.  A bright spark will notice almost immediately and nudge others. i find that one by one they stop talking as they wonder what I am up to – it almost becomes uncomfortable for them.  It has NEVER failed!

Bacon123 says 31st January 2013

Say “Eyes this way” Immediately start thanking those who give you their attention. The others rapidly follow.

Trish says 31st January 2013

Our y3 classes respond very well when I shout out “One, Two …” They respond by calling out “…. Eyes on you!” As they respond they stop what they are doing and face me ready for what ever instruction, message (or occasionally moan!) I need to communicate. It works well especially when you model standing still and looking expectant. I’ve seen it fail when a staff member has called it out while they are trying to find or prepare something. They become quite sing-songy (!) about it which they enjoy, this strategy has worked everytime for me.

Jasonshaw1 says 31st January 2013

With very difficult groups I occasionally use an extreme ploy of saying “OK – important announcement…!” whilst keeping a very serious expression –  and then I just stand at the front waiting. It usually works a treat in silencing even really noisy groups. I then say whatever it was I needed to say…and diffuse the situation with humour (such as “oh – the important announcement? It’s lunchtime! You need to start packing up!” etc…)

Obviously only works when used once in a while, for classes who just won’t quieten down with your usual strategies.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     The power of ‘curiosity’ Jason – works a treat.

Wibblywombat says 31st January 2013

Depending on the age group – clapping a rhythm usually works well.  They need to listen well to be able to repeat it back and they enjoy doing this.  Younger children: Look at the window (point to each item when singing this), look at the door, look at the ceiling, look at the floor… now look at me.

Whispering instructions sometimes works a treat… Doing supply helps because different strategies are needed for different groups of children.  One very difficult group – I wrote on the board ‘I am timing how long it takes to be quiet’ – then without saying anything, I exaggeratedly look at my watch – eventually they quieten down.  Then I explain that is how much break time (or golden time) is now owed.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Yes – I like your whispering idea. One of my colleagues used to do this; she was only tiny and was very quiet by nature. The students used to automatically drop their volume to hear her talk. 🙂

Brent says 31st January 2013

The teacher sings out “Day-Oh. Daaaaaaaaaayyy-OH.”
and the students sing back, “Daylight comes and I wanna go home.” The song is the cue for attention at the front of the room where the teacher goes before starting the song.
This is an extension from the Harry Belafonte “Banana Boat Song.”

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Made me chuckle Brent – nice one. 🙂

serene says 31st January 2013

I’ve tried many strategies before like tapping or clapping, but the one that does wonder with my teens is putting one of my hands on my mouth and keep silent. It does grap their attention. Then, I use “Quote this”, ice-breaker to engage them by letting them choose a quote related to the topic they study and give their opinions and reflections to the whole class.

Inma says 31st January 2013

I brought castanets from Spain and I play them when I want my students’ attention. I do some Flamenco tapping other times and it works! (I am from Spain)  

Rebekah Stewart says 31st January 2013

I start singing a familiar song, like Frère Jacques or Twinkle Twinkle and everyone joins in.  By the end of the song, everyone is focused on me again.

Carla Kyle says 31st January 2013

I love Harry Wong’s style but I have added my own piece to it. I clap twice and raise my hand. I used to substitute teach and it worked for me for K-12th grade. The older ones would just turn and look at me but they would instantly be quiet.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Yes, Harry commands respect. Good adaptation Carla. 🙂

Cynthia Brundage says 31st January 2013

I use a 100% system.  I give an instruction like “We need everyone quiet to start the lesson”, and I count percentages until everyone is on task.  If it takes longer than I designate, then I remind of the appropriate consequence for the students not complying.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Nice one Cynthia. Can I ask what your consequences might be?

isabella says 31st January 2013

I raise my hand and wait until all students raise theirs: some of them do it immediately (they are the few who always pay attention to what I say) and the others follow, as they gradually realize that the class is becoming silent. One minute or so, and they are ready to listen. As the aim is to get them stop talking I don’t say anything, but just put up my hand and wait. It works!

Matt says 31st January 2013

I write the word ‘BREAK’ on the board.  If I don’t get quiet in 3 seconds or less after raising my hand I rub off the letter ‘B’ and write the names of anyone still talking/writing on the board.  Next time I need silence I usually get it  – but if not I rub off the letter ‘R’. If by the end of the lesson I’ve rubbed off every letter, those children with their names on the board stay in for 5 minutes of their break.  If there are any  letters left, they all get to leave on time.  If all the letters are gone, only the noisy ones get punished.  (better than keeping the whole class in).  Not sure where I picked this up – maybe one of yours Rob?

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     not one of mine Matt – but like I like it! 🙂

Traci says 31st January 2013

What has worked for me is to use a call and resonse.  I simply say, “bump ba-da bump bump” and the students response is, “bump bump”.  This allows me to immediately get their attention no matter where I am in the room.  I tried chimes in the past, but if I was not near my chimes I would have to walk to where the chimes were.  This new strategy works like a charm!

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     You’ve just reminded me of the one I used to use in seminars and workshops Traci – great strategy, thank you.

Megan says 31st January 2013

The most successful strategy I’ve used was a call and response. I or my co-teacher would say, “ozzie ozzie ozzie”, to which the kids would respond, “oy oy oy”. We let them yell it if they wanted (of course they did) but they had to be absolutely silent after they finished. 

This doesn’t work with the group of kids I’m with now; there are significantly less of them, so acknowledging the kids who are doing what they’re supposed to (“Josh is sitting quietly and listening.”) or indirectly referencing those who are not (“I see three people who are not ready to learn.”) is usually sufficient.

Each group of children is different, you just have to find what works for you and them. 🙂

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Good point Megan – and neat strategy too, thank you. 🙂

Lxsmith says 31st January 2013

I use the count down method.  Starting at 3 stating that they need to finish their conversation, then 2 stating that they need to be facing front, 1 stating that they need to be listening and facing front, then 0.  By this point they should be listening and ready to start.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     We love the countdown too. 🙂

Joyce says 31st January 2013

I normally stand up in front of class raise my hand and state “all eyes are on me” and require all students to raise their hands in the air that draws attemption to all students around.  The students get quiet wait for instructions. It has become a signal for all students at our school.

Pjflagmom says 31st January 2013

I have used this strategy with a variety of age groups, Kindergarten through Eighth grade.  I teach the group “what good listening looks like,” such as quiet hands, looking at the speaker, quiet bodies.  Then when I want them to be quiet, I say “show me what listening looks like” and I get the results for which I am looking.  It is amazing how well it works.  Younger students love the “role play” and older students (although they find it amusing when I am teaching the strategy) comply as well.  It allows me to quickly and quietly get the results I am requesting.

Deangarza says 31st January 2013

I usually give a choice. For example, I will say,”Should cleaning up take 20 or 30 seconds?”. If they don’t choose or choose a number I didn’t say then I choose the lower one. After a while they make the decision and I remind them they made the decision not me. 

Steven says 31st January 2013

As part of my classroom routine, my students know that I will give them 20 seconds to wrap up their conversations and come to attention.  So I will raise my hand or turn off the lights and say “Okay, 20 seconds to wrap up”.  They respect the fact that I respect their interactions by giving them time to finish up.

Ajoseph says 31st January 2013

I teach a self-contained classroom in the USA for students Kindergarten to third grade.  I take photos of each student sitting in at their desks in the expected position and tape the photo to the student desk.  I then teach them the ‘Wait position’.  To transition between activities, and quieten students, I simply ring my chimes and say ‘Wait position!’ and the students stop what they are doing and return to their desks.  I give them a minute or two to achieve this and then say ‘I’m waiting’.  It’s a group behavior plan and so everyone needs to be in their seat by this time.  I hold up a sign that says ‘United we stand’ to show I am waiting, and if students are still not in their seats, I have velcroed numbers 1 to 15 on the board.  I simply start removing the numbers (beginning at 15) until they are all seated and quiet.  The numbers on the board refer to the number of minutes they get for afternoon recess.  It’s amazing how little I have to say for them to organize themselves, and encourage others to get into position too!  It’s impersonal, and no one can argue with the procedure.

    Ajoseph says 31st January 2013

     I forgot to mention that the above is a classroom for ED and behavior kids.

Beverly Morse says 31st January 2013

For my class this year, I have found turning the lights off and remaining very quiet and still untill everyone is ready to listen.

Morrison says 31st January 2013

Call and response methods work very well with all elementary ages (I do K-5).  With the younger students it may be the “1,2, 3, eyes on me; 1,2, eyes on you) and with older students “Marco”; “Polo”.  Changing it up for novelty and effect seems to be important, too!

Ethurau says 31st January 2013

I will start writing all the instructions or drawing pictures.  This causes the students to focus on what is being written and most of them stop what they are doing and get others to focus because they would rather get verbal instruction than figuring out what they are supposed to do from a picture or written words.

Lisa Detrych says 31st January 2013

I clap a rhythm 5 claps and the class is taught to follow that motion.  Then I do one more with a different amount of claps and they follow and in Elementary school they are quiet.

Kwit says 31st January 2013

I dramatically saunter over to my file cabinet and sneak (in full view of class) a few MM’s and pop them in my mouth and whisper something to the effect ” ohhhhh, I guess I’ll just have to eat these all to myself! It gets real quiet fast!!!! Eyes glaze, heads pop up and students sitting up ready to listen just in case they might get a MM!!!

Nicolle Regitz says 31st January 2013

I walk over to the group (still talking about whatever it was), establish some sort of contact, like leaning on one of the desks and being in the way of their conversation, then I do something unusual. I tend to be a bit theatrical, I’ll laugh using a witch voice, or cough as if I’m about to pass out, or just pretend I know what the conversation is about and comment (“Yeah man! Did you see that? I could not believe it!”), then move back to the subject when they stare at me (thinking: “what the….?”).
Students generally start laughing and I become the center of their attention again. Then I can continue teaching.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Well explained Nicolle (sorry, I sound like a teacher filling in a report card!). I liked that one.

Leo Pusateri says 31st January 2013

I start singing the Willy Wonka boat ride song…

“There’s no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing
Or which way the river’s flowing”

Kara311980 says 31st January 2013

I hold up a large red E made from construction paper. The visual shows I am READY to begin and the quiet down. If it is done before I count to 5 they get a sticker or stamp

Sara Marsh says 31st January 2013

Oops! Les yeux* not truck!!!

Sara Marsh says 31st January 2013

Un, deux, trois- les truck sur moi!
A, B, C – les bouches fermees!

You say the first part of each line- the students respond with the other!

    Rayment_14 says 31st January 2013

    I start a countdown, 5 if you’d like to just settle down. 4 and it’s nice to see how quickly this table are ready. 3 conversations should be ending. 2 all of this table are ready well done a merit for you. 1 face the front please. Aaaand zero well done al quiet and looking at me thank you!

M Jannaty says 31st January 2013

Stop midway in a sentence and stare at the student causing the distraction – this will inevitably get attention from the culprit as well as any others who are lost in thoughts! 

Diana England says 31st January 2013

With children aged 5 – 10 years old, teach them the following chant with actions:
1-2-3 Look at me (point to your left eye at 1, point to your right eye at 2, point to yourself at 3)
1-2-3 Listen to me (point to your left ear at 1, point to your right ear at 2, point to yoursself at 3)
1-2-3 Shhhhh! (Start the ‘shh’ off quite loudly, and end so it’s practically silent)

Repeat and get the children to join in the chany with actions.

Tell them whenever they hear the start of this chant, they should stop what they’re doing, stop talking, look at the teacher and join in the chant.

This always works in getting a group’s attention and getting them to be quiet.  It’s especially good for children with no or little English as the chant is so easy to learn and meaning is contextualised with actions.

Enjoy!!

Jimjones says 31st January 2013

I believe teaching by proximity is the best way to help modify student behavior.  Your presence alone, near a student, is generally enough to get a student to stop the action you find disruptive, without stopping the flow of what you are teaching.  When that does not work, I ask my students to get out their invisiable duct tape.  A little humor goes a long way in reminding students about their responsibilites.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Nice one Jim – I love the the gaffa tape idea. Although I have been known to use the real stuff (purely for comedic effect I assure you! )

Loracyme says 31st January 2013

My best strategy is using phrases that students respond to in some manner, ie teacher: hocus pocus students: everybody focus, one two three eyes on me, or whispering if you can hear me clap once, twice( do this till all students are clapping.

Jancis Ham says 31st January 2013

Merely say quietly so that the nearest students can hear, something to make them put their hands up and focus on you, ideally “Hands up who’s listening!”
This will (almost invariably) create a response as students are used to putting hands up automatically. This gives them a visual signal that their classmates are interested in something, triggering the copycat response, and also focuses on their actually listening so that they stop talking for a moment.Of course you have to be ready with something worthwhile to say immediately you have their attention or it’ll be like calling ‘Wolf’ and probably not work a second time. Depending on their level of focus it may require another super interesting comment like “I have 2 minutes off the next Break/ a coke scented sticker/ for those who….” depending on age of students, or the irresistible “What can you hear outside?”

Angela says 31st January 2013

Teaching a class of ESL Grade 4 boys at the moment, very very noisy and hard to quieten – actually hard to even get them to stop fighting and sit down!  Best strategy for me is to write a word they know on the whiteboard (e.g. computer time/ game time) which tells them that if they are quiet, I will let them play on the computers or take them outside for quick game.  Half the students normally stop talking when they see the word.  Then I start counting backward from 5.  Every time I get to 0 and there are students still talking, I rub out a letter.  Peer pressure kicks into gear because they know if the words are all rubbed out, then the computer/ game time is gone.  Works most of the time 🙂

Emmaq says 31st January 2013

It depends on the age group really. With infants a bell, shaker, raising fingers, clapping a rhythm saying 1,2,3 look at me” works very well, followed by acknowledgement and praise of those children who have stopped and quietened down. With juniors I find a hand up and a clapped rhythm works well too, as does a bell. I have recently been doing supply at a ‘new school’ i.e small alternative school, with no sanction or reward system and the most challenging children I have ever come across in all my years of teaching alternative . You talk to the children and they simply ignore you. I would love to know what would work with them, honestly. What do you do if a child refuses to do as you say and there is no sanction you can use? I’d love to know.

Alanflow says 31st January 2013

I believe in strong punishment. That works immediately. I like to take items from them and make examples of them. Guaranteed quiet class in minutes forever.

Mcampbell says 31st January 2013

Drop down onto the floor, do some press ups; challenge them to beat you.  ‘Usually the ‘jack the lads’ will take up the challenge.’  The teacher can then enter names on the board for an improto competition for various activities.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Like it! 🙂

Cr_buffington says 31st January 2013

My favorite way to quiet the class is to begin naming students that are ready to work.  I simply say (quietly) “I can see that Susie is ready to work.  I can see Johnny is ready.” In no time, even the talkers are wanting to hear their name.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Nice, positive strategy.

Casner says 31st January 2013

Unfortunately, my best strategy for keeping students on task and quiet is to deduct 5 points from their current assignment if I have to speak to them about their noise level or what they have chosen to do.  Once I start calling out 5 point deductions others start to take notice and begin their work quietly.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Cheers Casner. If it really works for you (and imprtantly, for your students), then it is a fine strategy. maybe ask the class if they can suggest any alternatives – they are surprisingly inventive! 🙂

Satina Schwarz Dooley says 31st January 2013

Truly if I had a way to quieten my high school students I would share and I would not need the pack!!!  If I have bell work up, ready to go, my class starts work and is quiet.  But it is like you explained, they may be quiet but they are still talking.  What about the student that everyone likes but he thinks his job is to challenge the world before it knocks him down?  I enjoy learning from you but I am still having problem with THE NOISY and CHALLENGING SPANISH speaking student.

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Thanks Satina. Somwetimes it is not crucial to have them silent as ling as they are working and just loosening up with them can be enough to relax them into being more responsive. Having said that, I hear your frustration about the challenging student. We have oodles of strategies for this problem. Stay tuned… 🙂

    Loloki says 4th February 2013

    Spanish?

Ann Fitzsimmons says 31st January 2013

Hold up a large paper clip – the class knows that you want to be able to hear it drop onto the table. (It’s a version of “you could hear a pin drop”
They usually stop talking while you drop the paper clip – and you capitalise on the silence!

    Rob says 31st January 2013

     Thanks Ann – nice one. 🙂

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