Kids are talkative, that’s no surprise. It’s also not a bad thing most of the time! However, if our classrooms are TOO chatty, it can have a negative impact on learning for all the students. I’m sure we’ve all been there too – frustrated because the kids are talking nonstop, drained because too much instructional time is being lost, and lost because you don’t want to resort to raising your voice to get it under control.
Well worry no more because I’ve got some amazing strategies to help you calm that chatty class for good and turn all those conversations into meaningful talks! Check out these 10 easy and effective tips to combat chattiness in your classroom. I desperately wish I had #5 and #9 in my early years of teaching! Read on and learn how to turn chattiness into a positive tool for learning.
#1: Connection Circles
One way to use those chatty voices is by providing specific times to share about themselves, or learn more about each other, with connection circles. Provide time each morning and see how it transforms your day. Let them talk and connect because it makes a huge difference!
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. If you find that your students just won’t stop chatting with each other, simply let them talk. I know that may sound crazy, but we have to think about student needs first, which is more time to talk with each other.
Implementing morning meetings or connection circles provides a safe space for students to talk about whatever topic you feel is necessary for the time. Connection circles are a game changer for a positive classroom community and can seriously help combat elevated levels of chattiness. Check out more hacks for classroom community ideas HERE!
#2: Using Music
Using music is a great way to give students an auditory measurement for how loud their voices are. Simply play music for students to calm and monitor voice levels. I love to have students help create a classroom playlist, or you can choose a kid friendly station to play for them. I like to play classical for students and often find that they really enjoy it. The rule of thumb for them is to inform students that the volume of their voices should never match or be louder than the music that is playing. If they do get louder than the music, set the expectation that you will turn it off and that is incentive enough for them to control their volume. It is a great management tool for allowing students to talk and share as they work, while also being mindful of their noise level.
What about giving kids not just an auditory aid, but a visual aid as well? You can actually SHOW students how loud they are with these two awesome websites Bouncy Balls and Too Noisy. They are both fun and engaging ways to show students the power of their voice.
#3: Explicit Voice Level Instruction
Some kids just don’t realize how loud their voice is or how to control it. Explicit teaching is sometimes all they need for this. No matter what point in the year you are, this is ALWAYS a good thing to review when those noise levels get out of hand. Students need reminders, pretty frequently, for WHEN to use their voice, but also at what noise level is appropriate.
Teach students exactly when to use which voice levels, utilize visuals aids, and don’t forget how important ample practice time is for students! You can learn more about voice level tips and tricks HERE!
#4: Utilize Literature
Tip four is to use my favorite classroom resource: BOOKS! There is so much awesome literature out there that helps to teach students about the noise levels of their voice and when are the best times to use it.
Three of my favorites read alouds are Decibella and her 6 Inch Voice, Lacey Walker Nonstop Talker, and My Mouth is a Volcano. These stories really help students learn, in engaging and relevant ways, to make connections to their own voice in the classroom.
#5: Code Word
Have you heard of a movement code word before? It’s a super simple way to help students transition to an activity WITHOUT chaos. You provide the word of the day, or week, and it’s the code to move to the next activity! So how can this help with noise control? You guessed it, the class must be quiet in order to hear it!
The word can be as creative as you want it to be, such as “taco” or “robot”. Students know they can’t move, get started, or transition to an activity until they hear that word! It’s a fun and engaging way to get student’s attention and use it as an anchor to remember to move. Grab this Movement Code Word Freebie below by subscribing!
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#6: Turn Those Talks into Productivity
Extra chattiness can always be turned into a positive tool for learning. This tip tells how to turn all that talk into conversations with academic value.
We must remember that allowing students to talk not only helps with developing communication skills, but it also allows students to feel valued and heard. When they are encouraged to voice their ideas, experiences, and feelings, students learn important collaboration and language skills. It also helps us as educators to identify and discuss common misconceptions when listening to their conversations.
One way to allow the chats to continue, but keep them on task, is by effectively using partner activities. I’m talking turn and talks, teaching about active listening, and giving them ample time to do these things. Partner conversations can come in to help foster healthy connections and discussions. I love utilizing partners throughout the day with students. Whether it’s during the beginning of the day and we are sharing something personal or during academic times. Oftentimes students feel more comfortable sharing with a partner and can learn from them even better from us! Let more partner hacks HERE!
Another super important piece to turning those talks productive is establishing a great vocabulary routine so they can practice using great academic language. Vocabulary is one of the biggest predictors of reading success in students so it’s crucial to make it a huge component in your classroom. Check out 5 easy tips for building vocabulary in THIS post!
#7: Get Their Attention
Ever find yourself losing your voice shouting or talking over students to get their attention? Have you realized that the ‘stand and wait until everyone notices that they should be quiet method’ will have you losing SO much instructional time? Well no more of that! Instead try call and responses. They are SUPER easy and engaging for students and so much fun!! They can be as simple as you calling out ‘class, class,’ and your kids responding with ‘yes, yes’ or you can shake things up and use seasonally themed ones! Check out this amazing bundle of call and responses so you can insert the fun, get their attention, AND save your brain some thinking power!
#8: Teach Procedures and Set High Expectations
Procedures and expectations are the backbone of our classroom but if no one can hear them, how will they learn? I like to use hand signals as a quiet way to get their attention, or for students to utilize to get their needs met. We hand signals for questions, getting tissue, water, pencils, and permission to use the bathroom. Check out THESE editable hand signals to manage all the things in your classroom!
Before delving into all of your high expectations and procedures, we must make sure everyone is quiet so that our instruction is completely digested and understood. You want to set an expectation for how it will look and sound when students are carrying out the task. Use all the tips and tricks to calm the chattiness before getting into this and you’ll have a classroom that can almost run itself! When it comes time to check the talking and/or volume in the room, they’ll get it together much quicker because it’s rooted in those high expectations they’ve practiced time and time again. You can read more about the power of procedures and expectations HERE.
#9: Have Them Work TOGETHER
Instead of students getting together to chat, get them excited to work together to earn a reward!
Rewarding students is so important to motivate them and it gives them experiences they can remember forever. This tip combines positive incentives and teamwork while having fun! These are an engaging and visual way to motivate the entire class to work together and show off all their great behavior!
Whenever all students come to the carpet after the first time prompted, or when everyone is walking quietly in the hallway, they’ll earn a piece of the puzzle to complete for their class reward. Each piece shows progress towards their goal and it’s so much fun watching it all come together! You can give your students all kinds of choices for rewards to vote on that are fun and FREE, such as Bring a Stuffy Day, extra recess, or Pajama Day. Best part? They’re editable so you can make it your own for your students. Check them out HERE!
#10: Secret Student
This is a fun and easy tip that takes only a tiny effort to try! At the beginning of the day, pick one or two students to be your “secret students” for the day. They must not reveal themselves to the rest of the class. Tell the secret agents what specific behaviors you want them to be on the lookout for. I normally choose things I’ve noticed that students are really struggling with, like lining up or transitions, etc.
During our morning meetings or announcements, I’ll give my class reminders such as, “Our secret agents are looking for students who work really hard to line up quietly.” At the end of the day, the secret agents can reveal their list of classmates, with reasons why they chose them. With that list, you can pick one or two students to receive a ticket that they can cash in for a trip to your treasure chest, a small snack, or free choice. This is something that can be done each day with new students getting rewarded and being secret agents. It’s so much fun!!
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