I just started back at school, teaching a first/second grade combo class and so far it is going great. I have a wonderful group of kids - many of them moved up with me from last year and my new faces are great too. My problem is that they work very well, but their noise level continually increases. I have a quiet signal that I use to get their attention and I remind them to use their 6-inch voices, etc. They are very obedient and respond quickly, however, it does not last more than 10-15 minutes. After that, their voices start rising again until the noise level is too loud. Let me stress - they are never a really loud group - but I work better in a quiet environment and would prefer it to be quieter. I am unclear on what steps to take as they are indeed working well and accomplishing a lot. I personally encourage them to communicate and talk with the other children - I am a cooperative learning group type of person - but how do I keep the noise level down without having to remind them every 10 minutes? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
I teach 3-5's. We are Montessori so I am always moving about the room. I would love it to last 15 mins...I get maybe 5. I just go to the children that are loud and very softly ask them to use inside voices. They are so excited to be together, learning, etc. they just forget. At circle I talk very softly, modeling this voice and hope it may run off on them.
Modeling is key I usually keep my voice extra low in the beginning. So are the reminders you are giving. It will probably get better as the year goes on. At whole group time we practice whispering voices, inside voices and outside voices. I tend to exaggerate the quietness of a whisper and the almost-yell of and outside voice. This way an inside voice appears very reasonable, and when I mention to a child you are using an outside voice they realize how loud they are. Later in the year when the whole class is unreasonably loud I use a loud-ish voice and say I am using my outside voice inside, why do I have to do that, the kids will respond that they are too noisy, and it will get quieter faster. I also let my kids remind each other if they are too loud, but we practice doing it in a nice way. A friend of mine who teaces a k/1 combo has a "noise monitor" as a job. If the class is too noisy the lights o off, everyone freezes, gets quiet and then the lights go back on. If the lights have to be turned off a certain number of times during work time (I forget what) they lose the privelege of talking for 10 minutes, and work is completed in silence except for the small group she is teaching (of course). This may work for you with older kids.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by A J Damon
[B]Modeling is key I usually keep my voice extra low in the beginning.
I really value your suggestions. Thank you. I teach first/second in a Montessori charter school, so freedom of movement and cooperative group learning takes place the majority of the day. It is harder to keep the noise level this way but it is a great way to learn. The idea of a noise monitor would work very well in my class. Thanks so much.
Since it's the beginning of the year- Sit on them now (not literally)- Really- insist on quiet and drag out the 'big guns' (not literally) if you have too. You can always lighten up later on- just let them know you mean business now.
MY grade school had a traffic light (a real one) in the cafeteria... if the light was green, you can talk regular, if it's yellow, you could only whisper, and if it was red, there was no talking... this seemed to keep noise level down considerably.
I found a stoplight that plugs in that registers decibels. You can set it for how much noise you'll accept. I tell my 1st graders that if it goes off, they lose a priveledge (extra free choice time, art project, video--educational of course...) the light will change to yellow when it gets a little louder, but there is a sound when it goes to red. they watch the light and will remeind their table buddies if the light moves to yellow. It sure keeps me from always reminding them and makes them a bit more conscious of noise. I don't remember who makes it, but I bought it at a teacher supply store. It's about $40 but worth it.