“1… 2… 3… Eyes on me” – and the talking continues. You say it a little louder, but no luck. If this is what happens to you daily, you are probably looking for some ways to quiet a chatty class. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to teach while others are talking. True, many times a call and response will work for your students. But sometimes, we have to go a step further to keep the noise level down in our classrooms. Find something that works best for you with this list of 15 ways to quiet a chatty class. I have definitely used #6 and #11 some years. 😉
1 – Desk Friend Quiet Reminders
“Quiet critters!! I put something on each of their desks before a lesson, throughout the lesson, anyone who’s off-task/talking/not doing their best work gets theirs taken away (quietly and discretely, but they know). Whoever has theirs at the end gets a prize (sticker, lollipop for home, dojo point, etc) they LOVE IT, they learn accountability, it’s an individualized incentive that you can easily turn into a whole class (if everyone still has theirs at the end of the lesson…). I’ve used post it’s before, but created my own critters with pompoms and google eyes for this year.
I start with a period, if they keep it for a period, they get a prize – If they lose it, they get it back to try again after the period is over. Then after a few weeks, I move on to the whole morning – if they lost it they can start again after lunch. Then I go a whole day. Last year they loved it and I could go for a whole week! I use it A LOT at the beginning of the year and phase out as they learn the appropriate behaviors, but still do it for fun sporadically.” – Michelle C.
Important to remember… if your students are playing with their quiet critters, walk over and gently remind them that their desk friend may have to leave or be “babysat” by another classmate. Or, perfect your teacher’s stare and no headshake so you can remind them from across the classroom.
Quiet a Chatty Class 2 – Play Quiet Music
It is amazing how quiet your class can become when you play calming music. For some reason, background noise being in the room lessens their need to fill the space with noises of their own. Other teachers recommend finding piano music and playing that while students are working helps to keep the chatter to a minimum.
I recommend introducing the music while they are working independently or during small group centers. If you find that it works well, you can play the music very softly in the background during your whole group instruction as well. At first, it may feel weird teaching with music, but over time, it will become a part of the normal daily routine.
3 – Pre-Planned “Chat Time”
Some teachers plan certain “chat times” throughout the school day. Think of them as “brain breaks”, but with talking involved. As a matter of fact, you could combine the two and get the movement and talking out of the way, so students are ready to focus and learn when the break is over. After a decent block of instructional time, allow your students to have some “chat time”. It doesn’t have to be a long time, maybe 3 or 4 minutes, but then make it clear that the expectation is they will quietly listen during the next lesson.
4 – Include Discussions in Your Lesson Plans
See how many times you can include partner or team sharing within your daily lessons. You are allowing your students to “chat”, but directing the conversation to academic in nature. It will allow them to talk while increasing engagement during your lesson. A note to remember… try to make your sharing “Think, Pair, Share”. Give your students some think time to formulate their response prior to sharing with a partner or table team.
You can also make partner sharing a “game”. These activities can be done during whole group, or you can set up active listening centers for literacy and math small groups. Favorites in my classroom are “Would You Rather?” and “What Would Happen If…?”, as well as math strategies talks when solving word problems. For whole-class discussions, students can work on their Social-Emotional skills, or Debate on current events.
5 – Give Yourself and Your Students Some Grace
Think about the first time you were able to see your teacher besties after remote teaching had ended. Didn’t you feel like you had years of catching up to do? 😂 Many of our students were affected the same way by the pandemic and remote learning. They are excited to be back in school with their friends and have a lot of “catching up” to do. Put some procedures into place that allows for talking, but also cues them back in when learning needs to take place. As well as building social skills, for many, the pandemic left some academic holes that need to be filled too.
Quiet a Chatty Class 6 – Whole Class Quiet Rewards
Similar to some behavior management systems, you can use whole-class rewards to quiet your chatty class. I’ve seen teachers share ideas such as marble jars, class points, filling a ten frame, or gaining a certain number of clothespins or paperclips. Have a discussion with your class about the reward they would like to have if they reach their goal. Make sure that their ideas are within reason, and they can easily be something that does not have to cost you money. (think extra recess, dress-up days, lunch together, etc.) It’s a win-win situation, as you build classroom community while working on staying quiet, so you can teach.
7 – Wireless Doorbell to Stop the Chatter
“Ding, ding, ding” and all students stop talking and look right at you ready to learn. Sounds amazing right?! You can use a wireless doorbell to help cue your students into the fact that it is time to end the chatter and put their eyes and ears on you. Teachers recommend using a Wireless Doorbell with a variety of sounds to help quiet your chatty classroom. You can click it whenever you need to, and by having a plethora of sounds to choose from, you can also keep your students on their toes by never knowing what sound they are going to hear each day.
Quiet a Chatty Class 8 – Read a Book
Many times we use a picture book to help teach students academic skills. Why not use a book to help with talkative behavior as well? Maybe by reading a story about non-stop talking, you can brainstorm as a class some ways to help with all of the chattiness going on in your classroom. Some of the favorites you can use that highlight chatty students are…
- My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook
- Decibella and Her 6-Inch Voice by Julia Cook
- Effie the Ant by Beverley Allinson
- Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
- Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne C. Jones
9 – Make it a Challenge or Game
Some students really get into the “Quiet Game”. You can award points individually, or as table teams, with the winning team earning a prize. Free time is always a coveted prize in our classroom. 😉 You can also play “Students versus Teacher”, with the students earning points if they remain quiet for a set amount of time and the teacher earning points if students are talking out of turn. A note to remember is to start with a short length of time. If you have a very talkative class, you can make it as short as 10-15 seconds. The goal is to give them some success to make them strive to participate and hopefully end the chatter.
10 – Rearrange the Furniture
Okay, this should be the last resort if all other possibilities don’t seem to work. Student desks could be arranged in rows, so there really isn’t anyone for them to speak with while you are teaching. Or some teachers will put up privacy folders so that students are in their own “cubicle” while working on tasks and not tempted to talk with their classmates.
Quiet a Chatty Class 11 – Blurt Beans
Create a jar for your blurt beans. As a class, decide what rewards your students would like when you have reached 1/3 of the way to the top, 2/3 of the way, and then at the top. You could split your jar into fourths as well, depending on the jar size. Have a separate jar or bucket to hold onto your beans. Each day, every student gets a set number of beans (pinto beans work best). During the day, if a student blurts out, they have to put a bean back in the bucket (where all beans are kept). While packing up, they get to put any remaining beans in the prize jar. To save on time, your students can count out their beans each morning as part of the routine. As the jar gets filled, you get to enjoy your class rewards and words towards having a quieter class.
12 – Noise Level Lights
Purchase a few tap lights and have corresponding noise levels next to each. Throughout the day, tap on the level of noise that is appropriate for the current task/lesson. It is an easy visual reminder for your students to keep the level of chatter to a minimum.
13 – Secret Code Word
Have a “word of the day” displayed every morning when your students come into the room. (You can tie this word to your current units of study, or important vocabulary from your reading curriculum.) During the day, while you are teaching, if you say that word, the first student to raise their hand after it is said gets a small prize/incentive.
Quiet a Chatty Class 14 – Quiet Signals
Students can quietly tell their classmates to be quiet without all of the shushings. When you are teaching your routines and procedures, teach them a certain hand signal to use that can help their classmates remember to stay quiet. It can be as easy as putting a finger to their lips. Or, you can make up something different (maybe even have your students give their input). You can also use non-verbal signals to help students remain quiet by walking around the room, lightly touching shoulders, or just being in close proximity. Work on perfecting your “look” – you know the one I’m talking about.
15 – Other Chatter Ending Ways (Just for Laughs… 🤣)
We also have some teacher friends with a sense of humor…
“Tell them that their gluesticks are chapstick.”
“Don’t masks make them sound quieter?” or “We all have to yell nowadays with masks on!”
It is very frustrating to teach while your students are talking. This is definitely a behavior that needs to be under control. Just remember to not always ask for complete silence. Some talking during the day is a good thing, especially if you have directed it to be academic in nature. Do you have any surefire ways to quiet a chatty classroom? Please share them in the comments below.
Written by – Janessa Fletcher
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