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Nuts & Bolts: Managing Student Noise

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Managing Classroom Noise: The Noise Meter

To help control the noise level in my classroom I have created a "noise meter" poster that I stick to the chalkboard in the front of my room. My chalkboard is magnetized and I move a refrigerator magnet on the poster to indicate the acceptable level of noise. The levels are labeled: 0, No Voices; 1, Whisper or "Buddy" Voices; 2, Table Voices (can only be heard clearly at the student's table); and 3, Classroom Voices (can be heard clearly across the room, useful during whole-class discussions). At the first of the year we practice these different noise levels. In addition we discuss when the different levels are most appropriate and why. Many times during the day I let the students choose which noise level they wish to work at, sometimes I limit their choice to a couple of different levels and sometimes I don't.

The noise meter is a visual reminder of the agreed upon/appropriate noise level. If the students' noise gets too far above this, then I ring a small brass bell (one of those that are found at import stores, not the big loud ones) to get their attention and I gently remind them to work quieter. If I need to do this again, then I get their attention in the same way and we practice saying a phrase in the appropriate voice. For instance I might say, "I noticed we got a bit too noisy again so I want you to repeat after me... Math is fun in a table voice." Then I count to 3 and we all begin repeating the phrase while using the appropriate volume. This way the students get to practice what their voices should sound like and they get to hear what it should sound like in the classroom as a whole.


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