Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 8... Getting the Students' Attention...

As much as I like routines (and, honestly, I LOVE routines!), I also love variety. Especially with sixth graders, I like to keep them guessing a little, so they do not become passive participants (or, worse yet, passive non-participants)

Therefore, I use a range of different attention-getting strategies in my classroom. Depending on my mood or the noise-level or the activity, I chose the sound-maker that makes the most sense for the situation.
Last year, I incorporated some whole brain teaching into my classroom. We used some of the "teaching gestures and procedures" as well as the focusing technique of "Cllaaassss...." The kids enjoyed it and were quickly adept at imitating any variation in pitch, tempo or volume I modeled! But their was favorite was always "classity class."

In many situations, however, I tell my students that I prefer to use my voice for discussions and conversations, not trying to get them to focus or be quiet. There are also times when I request their attention simply by waiting. (Sometimes I sing songs in my head--but they don't now that!) I don't say "Shhh" nor do I like my students to say "Shhh" to each other. Since we use some sign language in our class, it usually only takes one student to sign "Look," and the rest will usually turn and focus quickly.

These "energy chimes" were the first "attention getter" I ever used. I use the three (melodious!) tones to remind them: 1) Stop what you're doing (nothing in your hands), 2) No sound, and 3) Eyes on the teacher. I like to let the last tone hang in the air and then fade away. This one has always worked for me. And it's sentimental too!

When the room is very noisy (a "good noisy" that comes from involvement in an activity), it is hard to hear most "traditional" sound-makers. I rarely use this "clacker" because the kids are often startled by the unfamiliar sound. It is the most helpful in a crowded noisy room and can be counted on to catch their attention (Although, invariably, someone says, "What was that?")

This bell has been my old stand-by for years (and years and years.) It looks fairly ancient too! I like the fact that you can continue ringing the bell until the students stop talking. It's not particularly loud, and the tone is gentle, so it's not ear-shattering when I ring it. I like that in a bell!

I saved the best for last. I saw this one on Pinterest and I simply HAD to have it! (I tracked it down in Pier One.) I love my new bell! It is not particularly loud, and the sound is pleasant--more so than the usual "school bell" or "sales clerk bell."  More to my liking, however, is the appearance. Love the bling! And the colors match my room. It just makes me happy to see it on my "desk" (which is now just the table that holds my computer and the doc cam--and the bell!)

I already know I am going to have to remind the stduents not to ring the new bell at random moments. And then I am probably going to have to remind myself...

What do you do to direct students' attention? Do you have a favorite sound-maker?


  1. I'm a huge fan of call-backs, like "Class" "Yes?" I also use, "Push!" "Pause." and "Hold up!" "Wait a minute." I also love my little service bell, although it is not as blinged out and awesome as yours!

    1. Hi Amy (Awesome Running Machine that you are!): I'll have to check out "Push," "Pause" and "Wait a minute." Have you heard (I think). "Super scholars on three"? I want to investigate that one next...

  2. Love all of your ideas! My fourthies do "okay" with the "Claaaaass" and "Classity Class" but the novelty for them usually wears off after the first few months of school. The chimes have ALWAYS been one of my go-to's, too! They are a nice relaxing noise and they carry over most. Definitely a keeper :) LOVE your bling bell! Ooooh.. I'm sensing a need to go to Pier 1 :)


    1. Hi Amelia: I agree with you about the novelty... I think that's one of the reasons why I like to change it up. THANKS so much for stopping by!

  3. I read the book Yo! Yes? by Chris Raschka and use that as my call and response. My whole grade level adopted it at one school I taught in, and then it spread to the whole campus. It was powerful when any adult could get the attention of a large group because we had that signal in common.

    Krazy Town

  4. Our former principal used to say, pretty softly, "If you can hear my voice, clap once." Some kids would clap. Others would notice. Then she'd say, "If you can hear my voice, clap twice." The whole school (about 650 kids) would respond. I was always amazed. She never raised her voice, and everyone was silent after the second clap. Magic!


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