How about having the students help develop a code of conduct? They know the difference between right and wrong, but if they have partial ownership of the rules they are more likely to follow them. Then consider setting up a positive consequence for good class behavior. Perhaps a fun/interactive science or math lab. Maybe use a bean jar to accumulate rewards. Something that is both visible and measurable.
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My daughter's teacher used a "Marble Jar" - she rewarded good behavior/quiet listening with marbles in the jar (you can choose to also take them away if there is too much talking). 25 marbles in the jar resulted in a "marble party" - something exciting to do like board game afternoon, or popcorn and a movie.
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