Question Detail

Concern with noise level

Jun 4, 2013 4:10pm

If this looks too familiar, I apologize. I should've posted this in the correct category and I posted this same problem under a "general" forum:

Hello! This is my 1st time posting. Does anyone know an effective way to keep noise level to a minimum when students are engaged in teams? I've always had this problem and I had to keep using my signals to let them know that the noise is becoming unacceptable. This is one of the problems I'm facing when students are engaging in accountable talk. Sometimes I feel that they become so passionate that the noise starts to escalate. I keep reminding them to use indoor voices but I keep having to do it every 5 to ten minutes. Does anyone have any suggestion in order to sustain an acceptable noise level when students are engaged in teams? Thank you for any suggestion. Happy Teaching!

  • English Language Arts / Math / Other
  • Pre K-12
  • Behavior / Collaboration / Engagement


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    • Jun 4, 2013 9:11pm

      There's an iOS app called MyClassRules that has a noise meter and awards points if students can keep the decibel level down. It might be worth a look.

      • Jun 7, 2013 8:23am

        This may not be what you're looking for, but is the noise really a problem or are you just nervous that it doesn't sound like a traditional classroom? The reason I say this is because my room gets noisy too, but the kids are just excited and engaged. I check in with my room neighbors and it doesn't bother them, and it doesn't bother the kids, so as long as work is getting done, I just love to bask in their excitement. You'll get used to the volume if it isn't interfering with anyone else's learning. If it is, however, you could play a game... and the quietest group gets a prize or something fun...that usually does it because kids are so competitive.

        Katie (@KatieNovakUDL)

        • Jun 10, 2013 2:32pm

          Essentially, Bouncy Balls is a website that activates your microphone and detects noise level. The more noise in the room, the more the balls bounce. The quieter the room is, the more still the balls remain. I thought it was a fun, engaging way to monitor noise levels. Ask students to try to keep the balls as still as possible during class, and maybe reward them by allowing them to sing and be noisy on their way out of class :)

          *Teacher Note: It does ask for permission to access your camera/microphone settings. To my knowledge none of the information is saved. And once you leave the site and go back you have to grant permission all over again.

          • Jun 11, 2013 6:55am

            Yolanda! I love the strategies you itemized here as I have used most of them. My favorite is doing the combo of an audio and a visual-countdown (3, 2, quiet on 1) signals. I had even asked students to give each other a gentle tap on the shoulder or at the elbow to let them know to stop whatever they're doing and listen. That's the kinesthetic component. I suppose that I just have to keep using these non-online strategies until they learn the acceptable noise level when working in teams. Again, I thank you for the link on those bouncy ball website to give them that visual when they're getting too loud.

            • Jun 6, 2013 5:41pm

              Are you circulating around the room as they collaborate? Your constant presence helps moderate noise levels because the students remain vigilant of your presence. I don't do it to intimidate them; in fact, it's a great way to informally assess them. I like to stop and talk to a group if I hear something interesting or feel they need redirection. If the noise is due to off-topic socializing (which is common), your movement around the room will keep their chattiness to a minimum. Another strategy you could use is assigning roles. Give each student a particular responsibility (like you would in a literature circle) so that he is accountable for some particular task.

              • Jun 11, 2013 4:17am

                Hi Michael,
                You want actual strategies...=) OK here goes may have to post more than once since this only lets me put so much like twitter (and teachers are notorious for talking, here goes) lol
                1. Notice times when the students are displaying the correct attentive behavior and/or voice levels. Use specific praise that identifies the action that you appreciate. ("The red group is doing a wonderful job of using their table voices.")
                2. Develop a signal system. When you want quiet and student attention directed toward you, show the signal (hand raise, finger to closed lips, etc.). Students acknowledge you by showing the same signal. Of course, this system needs to be practiced, and students need to be positively recognized for having followed your lead.
                3. Develop a classroom chant that the students repeat when they hear you say it. They then close their lips and attend to you. For example: "One, two, three. Eyes on me." at which time the students reply, "One, two. Eyes on you."

                • Jun 11, 2013 4:25am

                  Last but not least...I hope this helps.
                  8. Give warnings about being "too loud" in a non-verbal manner (so that we don't yell louder than the volume of our students). Say a student's name quickly (or otherwise gain his/her attention), and hold up one finger (symbolizing "first warning"). Hold up two fingers for the second warning. Wave the student to you for the third consequence (whatever you have decided upon and discussed previously with the students).
                  9. When the classroom is noisy, look for students who are using the correct voice levels. Recognize them positively.
                  10. Model the voice level that you wish them to show.

                  • Jun 15, 2013 2:57pm

                    I loved the Bouncy Balls site, but I am not sure my students wouldn't get louder just to be rewarded by the bouncing >smile<
                    I am a music teacher and I will definitely use this with my littles to teach dynamics!

                    Thanks for all of the strategies, Yolanda!

                    • Jun 7, 2013 11:30am

                      @Katie I agree with you. The "noise" may be the sounds of productive kids. My kids do get noisy, and I have to monitor their noise level because I have a moving wall, so the noise filters into the other classroom. Walk around and just listen to what the kids are saying--you may be pleasantly surprised! Good luck.

                      • Jun 7, 2013 3:12pm

                        Everyone, I appreciate all the suggestions!

                        @ Michael, I gotta take a look at that app you're talking about because I want to keep a consistent noise level that students should discipline themselves to listening too. Maybe this "meter" can remind them how to modulate their voice and hopefully encourage that consistency.

                        • Jun 7, 2013 3:13pm

                          @ Jessica, yes, circulation around the room is an integral part of the curriculum I use on math. And I think someone brought this up that it helps (in)formally assess the group dynamics and the quality of rigorous discussion. And roles have been assigned, it's the maintenance of a consistent level of noise that I want my student to self-regulate. Sometimes, due to my enthusiasm, the students respond by giving each hi-five's and their excitement is palpable.

                          • Jun 7, 2013 3:13pm

                            @ Katie, I'm concerned that our noise though semi-productive may be bothering the neighbouring classes. So I do check next door and my neighbouring teachers are so understanding albeit that they're more traditional than I. And I let them know that I won't take it personal if they come over to tell me that it's just too much. I know what you mean by that level of enthusiasm and I couldn't get it when my approach to teaching was more in the traditional end. Mind you the students I had have had English as an added language. So providing them with that math talk is crucial. And I could turn it into a game so I can keep that consistent noise level.

                            Keep them coming, everyone. I do enjoy reading your responses because I'm always looking for strategies

                            • Jun 10, 2013 3:33pm

                              Kate, I checked out the link you provided and even though I have not fully explored it yet, I can imagin how it works. What a great way to reinforce the visual aspect so students can see how much is way too much noise. The whole point is for them to moderate the productive noise hopefully and this would give them that gauge as a visual. Love it. So this will work if a teacher has access to the internet and all the hardware but what do other teachers do to moderate the noise while still working in teams? Thanks Kate.

                              • Jun 18, 2013 9:35pm

                                I play instrumental at the beginning of class and make sure all the students can hear it. If the noise becomes loud enough that I can't hear the music, I write, "Can you hear the music?" and stick it on the leader's desk. When the noise level drops, the leader of the group holds up the note. I take their note and give them a praise note.

                                • Jun 25, 2013 3:58pm

                                  My building has had success using the ACHIEVE model for classroom activities. In this model, each letter stands for a different expectation for the work being accomplished. I have created a model for my students to use for every activity scenario - small group work, independent work, etc. I have found that giving students an appropriate noise level under the "conversation" section helps. Keeping the poster up or projected during the activity gives me and the students a good point of reference if they need to be reminded. This does take a little setting up, as you need to set expectations and give examples about what each noise level sounds like - a 3, 2, 1 scale or something like "only your partner can hear you", "only your group...", "the whole class..."

                                  This link provides an outline of the model:

                                  • Jul 4, 2013 5:50pm

                                    First, is the noise a functional noise or non-functional noise. By this I mean, are the kids engaged in the activity or are they talking about ideas outside of the subject. I was really worried about the noise level in my classroom since I was in the center of two hallways and the noise carried. (I also had classes with 35-40 kids) However, when administrators checked in they were happy, because almost all of the kids were engaged in the activity.
                                    I have utilized the bouncy balls app and I also use the "give me five" that many students are familiar with from their elementary days. I also set noise standards by using music. They have to be able to hear the music playing.
                                    I have found that if I practice and provide examples at the beginning of the year, that it is easier. If the students are too loud we stop. I explain my expectations and we try again. Modeling in my classroom has really helped behavior and noise level.

                                    • Jul 6, 2013 5:20pm

                                      There is an internet site called "bouncy balls" where balls bounce higher as the noise rises. I think it may not be a good idea for ongoing monitoring, since it could be reinforcing to make the balls bounce. But it might be good (and fun!) for teaching the students what different levels of sound feel and sound like.

                                      • Jul 15, 2013 9:29am

                                        At the beginning of the year, have them practice different levels of noise. Level 1 is a whisper. Level 2 is speaking in a normal conversational volume. Level 3 allows for excitement.

                                        After they have practiced, call out the appropriate level before they begin any activity.

                                        • Jul 15, 2013 9:45pm

                                          @ Kristi, isn't it true? We can't stress the importance of practice enough.

                                          • Mar 20, 2014 10:55pm

                                            Kids are a blank hard-disk or a blank DVD disc or blank pen-drive.

                                            You can write anything you want to to write in that

                                            each kid have ability to do things by own self.
                                            they have more solution for current problems

                                            let them give direction
                                            give them scope to think

                                            once they find the way
                                            they start reading
                                            they start finding solutions

                                            Be a consultant rather then dictator

                                            Make a list of social problems facing by your country and society.
                                            find out NGOs working on that

                                            Let them explain meaning of opportunity.

                                            so many developing country facing learning English
                                            let them know that their native language is English
                                            In that way they may realize the value of a language.

                                            Use this kind of examples and finding reason to why do they have to learn what they learn.

                                            • Jul 29, 2014 8:04pm

                                              For starters, make sure groups are not too big. "Too big," of course, depends on the task at hand. Thus the noise will likely be more contained within the individual groups.

                                              Also, from my experience, if two friends are in different groups but are in close proximity to another, they may get sidetracked and start talking to each other [about something completely unrelated]. Therefore I also suggest keeping groups as far away from each other as possible.