As the school year goes on, students become more and more comfortable with one another in the classroom. Building this sense of community is exactly what teachers strive for, but this also comes with one headache-inducing drawback: THE NOISE! Of course teachers welcome collaboration during some academic times, but at other times we just want peace and quiet at indoor voice levels. To address the noise issue, teachers have many different hacks that encourage students to use appropriate voice levels in the classroom.

Here are 10 amazing hacks for quieting your noisy classroom.

1. Voice level lights

Having a visual for students to see the appropriate voice level for an activity is super helpful. Be sure to practice with your students often what different levels sound like. For example, a level 3 would be that extra chatty and noisy level that we would expect outside at recess. However, level 1 would be a whisper.

2. Bouncy balls

Teachers love, which is a free website that you can pull up on a laptop or smartboard in the classroom as long as a microphone is attached to the device. The website picks up on voice level and will change its movement if it gets too loud. You can change the sensitivity of the microphone as well as the theme of the visuals.

3. Students vs. teacher

Students - 3 tallies
Teacher - 2 tallies
Via @thebusyclassroom

Kids love when classroom routines and activities are gamified! It’s also meaningful when the class has to work together to earn something. This hack requires the teacher to count down from 5 to 1 when the class is too chatty. If students are silent at 1, they get a point. If not, the teacher gets a point.

It is up to the teacher how often a reward is given or a consequence is put in place, depending on who is winning this classroom management game. Rewards could be free time for five minutes before recess, extra long snack, extra read aloud, etc. Consequences could be reviewing expectations again, losing a few minutes of Friday free time, or writing down goals of how things will improve in the classroom.

4. Quiet critters

Even older kids enjoy this silly hack! During times when it is supposed to be quiet in the classroom (independent work times usually), quiet critters will find their way to the desks of students who are working quietly and are on task. Alternatively, some teachers like to use Quiet Quackers, which are rubber ducks with the same purpose.

5. Classroom doorbells

Teachers have been using doorbells to help with rotating through centers during the school day, but it can also be used as a way to quiet down a classroom. Teachers can ring the doorbell, signaling students to stop what they’re doing, look and listen immediately. The doorbell could also be used as a 1-minute warning as students wrap up conversations. Just be sure to make it clear with students what the voice level expectation is when they hear the doorbell!

6. Read aloud voice level books

Students respond well to visuals and text-to-life connections. One of our favorite books about noise is Decibella and Her 6-inch Voice by Julia Cook. The student in this book is introduced to different voice levels, which provides great opportunities for students in the classroom to practice these different voice levels along with her. For extra flair, read this book alongside your voice level lights, explicitly teaching your expectations.

7. Voice level scenarios

Voice level scenarios presentation slide. Caption: Talk about voice levels and when and where to use them. Read each sentence and decide what voice level would be appropriate. Move the voice level number and talk about why you chose it.
Scenario 1: The class is listening to directions.
Picture of a teacher face her students, who are sitting on the color mat. A box is available for students to fill in the blank with a voice level number and explain their choice.

Similar to the use of social stories, your class can also go through different voice-level scenarios and decide what the classroom should sound like at that time (silent, quiet, table talk, loud, etc.).

8. Table points

Another way to gamify voice level management is to task tables with working together to use appropriate voice levels throughout the week. When tables transition quickly and quietly, stay on task during academic times, and prove they are role models when it comes to voice levels in the classroom, they earn points. The points can be cashed in for lunch with the teacher or a prize from the prize bin each week. We recommend racking up points weekly, but younger grades may need more immediate rewards.

9. V.I.P. Bin

The V.I.P. bin hack can be used in many different ways. It could stand for “very important person” or “very important pod,” depending on if it’s used individually or for tables to share. It is primarily a motivator/reward for students who follow the voice level expectations. For example, if one student is caught several times being a role model for others by using a whisper voice or silent voice when expected, they might earn VIP status for the next school day. In the VIP bin are special school supplies, like sparkly pens, fancy post-its, and giant erasers.

Once students see others earning this fun bin, they will be motivated to watch their own voice level. Be sure to make expectations clear on how someone or a table can earn VIP status.

10. Interrupting chickens

Do you have a case of interrupting students during whole group learning this year? One silly but effective hack is to use an Interrupting Chickens visual display. When students interrupt, a chicken goes into its coop. The chickens can earn their back out of the coop if students find their self-control throughout the school day. At the end of the day, if all five chickens are out, the class can earn a small reward. Older classes can use this hack weekly rather than daily.

While teachers certainly desire a hard-working classroom with appropriate voice levels in place, it’s important to note that we also don’t want students to feel that their voices are not welcome. Using these hacks simply helps students find the appropriate voice levels, while still encouraging the importance of a sense of community.

10 Effective Hacks for Quieting Your Noisy Classroom