Adapted Image Courtesy of WoodleyWonderWorks

Adapted Image Courtesy of WoodleyWonderWorks

I LOVE my class this year.  Diverse.  Capable. Sweet.  Unique.  Enthusiastic.  Energetic. Hard-working.  Funny.  Lovable.

These are some of the words that come to mind when I think of my first graders. But one more word that also comes to mind is…chatty.  Very chatty.  We are a ‘work in progress’ with this.  And thank goodness, we are continuing to improve each week.  🙂

Now, don’t get me wrong, I believe a classroom should be FULL of rich, collaborative dialogue.  Student discussion is vital, and our little guys need frequent opportunities to engage with peers and share their thoughts.  I pride myself on having a dynamic, student-centered classroom that encourages this. To foster this kind of a climate, however, students also need to learn how to be effective listeners and independent workers. There are appropriate and inappropriate times for talking, and to get students to adhere to these boundaries, clear expectations must be set.

Here are 13 ideas/strategies to try when working with a chatty class.

1)  Noise Level Chart:  These visual aids provide students with clear expectations.  I quickly call attention to where I’m moving the clip at the start of each lesson.  I love these charts because they prevent me from feeling like a ‘talking cop’.   Instead of having to constantly repeat myself, I can simply say ‘check the chart’ or point to it if needed.  Here is one example I pulled from Pinterest.  🙂


2)  The ‘Quiet Music’:  I play ‘quiet music’ during independent working times.  It creates a calm, relaxing atmosphere and is an audible signal that it is ‘quiet working time’. I alternate cd’s containing classical music songs, sounds of the ocean, and Native American flute & guitar instrumentals.

3)  Mood Lighting:  During ‘quiet times’, I turn on a lamp  with warm, gentle lighting as opposed to the school’s harsh florescent lights. This can help set the mood as well.

4)  Attention Grabbers:  I call/signal for students’ attention in a variety of different ways, not just one.  Otherwise, I get bored and so do the kids!  Sometimes I use a bell, set of claps that students must echo, or these fun attention grabbers from Jessica at Mrs. Heeren’s Happenings.

Attention Grabbers

6)  Talking Objects:  I conduct morning meetings on a daily basis, and also incorporate whole-class reflections and share-outs where each student gets to share an idea.  To encourage listening, I pass around a ‘talking object’ (usually a gigantic Koosh ball or stuffed sea animal).  Students know that the only person who should be speaking is the person holding the talking object.

7)  Brain Breaks:  I provide students with opportunities to release their energy.  This helps them focus better during instructional time.  Please see my article Brain Breaks:  Fight the Fidgeting which links to about 100 dancing brain breaks for the SMARTboard/Promethean board.

20 Brain Breaks:  Fight the Fidgeting

8)  Online Noise-o-Meters:  Online noise meters detect the amount of sound heard on your computer’s microphone. Check out these noise-o-meters for display on your whiteboard so that students can self-monitor their talking.  Try Bouncy Balls, Calmness Counter, or the Too Noisy App.

9)  Cooperative Structures:  Students need time to engage about their learning.  I do ‘turn and talks’ at carpet time, shoulder/face partner share-outs when they’re at their desks, as well as a variety of collaborative group and movement activities.  Check out the Essential 5 of Kagan’s Cooperative Learning Structures for examples of some excellent structures.

10)  Whole-Class/Team/Individual Incentives:  I constantly give my attention to the positive behaviors I’m noticing in my class. Students work for meaningful rewards/incentives on a whole-class, team, and individual level.  Try to ignore chattiness/shouting out by giving your attention/praise to those making good choices.

11)  S.H.A.R.K.:  This is an acronym I created that stands for…

Sit up.

Hands in lap.

All eyes.

Respect to teacher/classmates.

Kind listeners.

When I need students’ attention at the carpet, I simply say ‘shark’ and they clap their hands over their head like a fin and then drop them to their laps.  It’s a fun visual/audible reminder that works!  Plus, it’s adorable!  Here are my niece and nephew modeling this for me.  It took everything for me not to laugh during the conversation they were having.  🙂


12)  ‘Raise Your Hand’ Reminder Chips:  This is something I do with students who really struggle with ‘shouting out’ in particular.  To try to help them increase their self-control, I will toss them a foam math counter chip to hold in their hands if I notice they are having difficulty.  The chip serves as a visual/tangible reminder that they must raise their hand the next time they’d like to speak.  It helps them control the impulse.

13)  Take a Break:  If a student is consistently having difficulty with the chattiness, I provide a logical consequence.  I may ask the student to ‘take a break’ or may provide them with an alternative working space temporarily.  It’s important to be firm, fair, consistent, and caring when doing so.  Have a sincere discussion with the student about your expectation, and allow them to return to the activity on their own accord.  We want them to feel in control of their choices.

What kinds of things do you do in your class to alleviate the talking???  

Please share in the comments section below!  I’d love to hear from you.  🙂


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