Is it possible to get students to talk quietly?

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by microbe, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Dec 12, 2012

    I substitute teach for middle school and high school quite a bit, and if the students have classwork I find that it is far less painful to let them work on it together rather than silently.

    Unfortunately, and this is especially true for middle school, the students don't seem to have any volume between silent and ridiculously and disruptively loud! Is this normal? Is there a way to get students to talk quietly to each other? Asking them to whisper doesn't even register.

    I've noticed that not letting them move from their assigned seat helps with other behavior issues, but not the volume!
     
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  3. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    Dec 12, 2012

    Middle school brains can seem to think about others for no longer than maybe 10 minutes. At that point they revert to their natural biological state which is "only I exist." I don't mean that in a snarky or sarcastic way - that really is the adolescent brain in most cases.

    So, when I do let them "work together quietly" I do so knowing I'll have to remind them every 10 minutes or so to quiet down. Sometimes they don't and we go back to silence. Reminding them that there are other students around them who work better in quiet makes it seem less like you're angry and helps put the locus back on them. It doesn't always work but it definitely helps in the long run if you're constantly reminding them not to be selfish.
     
  4. Ms.SLS

    Ms.SLS Cohort

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    Dec 12, 2012

    Try expressing your volume desires in numbers (level 1 - whisper, level 5, yelling). Have them practice different levels a couple times (they love it). Then, ask them to work at a certain level. When they get too loud, just remind them.
     
  5. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Virtuoso

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    Dec 12, 2012

    When I subbed, I let them know that they could talk as long as they could hear me if I spoke a little louder than my usual speaking voice (pretty much the one I use if I'm on stage). I also let them know if a teacher in another classroom came in to complain or see if I needed help, talking was done for the day. After I had subbed for a couple of years, most students could say the rules with me. They also knew I have a very staccato, Philly-style "YO!" that they would hear if I though we might be about to disrupt another class. Most of the time, the thought of that bellow was enough to keep the more boisterous students to turn down the volume. Those who really knew me and saw I was inhaling knew to cover their ears.
     
  6. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Phenom

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    Dec 12, 2012

    I have a voice level chart in my classroom. I include the appropriate voice level for each activity, so the subs know what I expect. Whenever the kids get too loud, the level immediately drops to to zero. I leave it like that for awhile, and then I'll switch it back when I feel like it. I don't make an announcement about it. It just switches on the board. I've also put certain kids on zero. I have one who cannot talk quietly. She yells and is off task. She's not allowed to talk during work time.

    The do know the difference, but they have to be taught and it has to be consistent.
     
  7. HeatherY

    HeatherY Habitué

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    Dec 13, 2012

    Sometimes I start with: "Your teacher said that you are to work on this silently by yourself, but if you can work quietly for x amount of minutes, I'll let you work with a friend for the remaining x minutes." Usually they will have mostly completed the assignment by the end of the "silent" work time anyway. And you'll come off looking nice and not like a mean ogre while still getting the work done.
     
  8. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Phenom

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    Dec 13, 2012

    I do this too. But if someone talks during the X amount of minutes I reset the clock (my stopwatch). Once we have 10 or so uninterrupted minutes of working I allow them to work in partners but only at whispering level.

    As soon as someone talks above whispering level I reinform everyone that what I am hearing now is NOT whispering level. I then ask everybody to practice whispering level noise. If they go over whispering level two more times, I make them work silently again.
     
  9. microbe

    microbe Comrade

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    Dec 13, 2012

    So today I had the same classes of middleschoolers work silently instead. While there was some talking, it wasn't nearly as loud as allowing them to work "quietly" with neighbors. I'm considering that until I get my own classroom, that having students work silently will be my best bet.
     

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