After ignoring wordpress most of the summer… Here I am back to blogging! Some of you have already gone back to school, others like me are counting the few days left of freedom we have. Even if you are already back to work or not, I am sure you will like to read this article.
OXFORD MAGAZINE for Preschool and Primary has always got really interesting articles for TEFL teachers. I follow their online magazine and I like to share the articles I like the most or the ones I think that can be interesting for other teachers.
This time, the article is about “How to keep a young learners class quiet“:
It is somewhat inevitable that young learners will get rambunctious and noisy in class at times. Trying to shout above them is often an impossible feat and ends up hurting your vocal chords more than calming them down. There are lots of different tricks and techniques that can be used to save your voice and help little ones get back on track. Here are a few suggestions.
Hands up, cross arms, head down
Ask children to raise their arms, cross their arms, and then put their heads down on their desk or table. When they have calmed down, continue.
Stop! Look! Listen!
Make a sign or poster for class with a stop sign, eyes, ears. Ring a bell and drill the ‘stop, look, listen’ routine. Make it like a game and congratulate children when they do the routine well.
Clap your hands with a specific beat and encourage children to copy the beat. Do this a couple of times until everyone is back on task.
Sometimes with very young learners it’s enough to distract their attention with something they are not expecting. For example, the sound of a wind chime or using a vaporizer to spray some scented water as you walk around class. There is also the possibility of using a tool like the Too Noisy app(for phones or PCs) where children can see how much noise they are making.
Ready for responses
Teach children different responses to things you might say in class. For example, I am what I am (teacher says, “I am” the class respond “what I am”). Other catchy phrases could include:Impossible is nothing, Just do it!, See you later alligator, Zig-zag.
Assign different children in class the job of quieting down the other children at their table or in their area. When indicated, the helpers try to ‘shush’ the children around them. If they do well, they can be given praise or a small prize.
Raise your hand and explain to the class that they need to be quiet and raise their hands before the countdown is over. Numbers can be written on the board, shown on flashcards or on your hand. Practice the countdown technique as fun activity before using it in class to calm children down. It’s important they are familiar with the technique before it’s used and remember to praise them if they do it well.
Play some music that the children like as they are working. Explain that if they get too noisy you will have to turn the music off.
Explain to the class that when they get too noisy they will lose time from other activities or from break time. When they get noisy show the timer or show them the stopwatch and keep track of the minutes they lose on the board. So, if they ‘lose’ 5 minutes, that means, for example, 5 minutes less playing Simon Says or Bingo.
Everybody Up Song: Please Be Quiet!
In this short song children learn to be quiet and to say sorry when they are making too much noise.
Stop that Noise (Jazz Chant by Carolyn Graham)
Carolyn Graham’s Jazz Chant about keeping quiet can be taught to the class then used to quiet them down when things go haywire.
Teacher: Sh! Sh! Stop that noise! Chorus: Sh! Sh! Stop that noise! Sh! Sh! Stop that noise! Teacher: Come on girls, Tell all the boys. Tell all the boys, To stop that noise! Girls: Please be quiet. Stop that noise! Please be quiet. Stop that noise! Teacher: Come on boys, Tell all the girls. Tell all the girls, To stop that noise! Boys: Shut up girls! Stop that noise! Shut up girls! Stop that noise! Teacher: Come on girls, Come on boys. Tell everybody, To stop that noise! Chorus: Sh! Sh! Stop that noise! Sh! Sh! Stop that noise! Sh! Sh! Stop that noise! Teacher: Tell all the boys To stop that noise!
Here is a video of some children in year 2 in northern Spain using the chant in class.
Signaling Classroom Transitions with Songs
Helping students know where they should be going and what they should be doing can cut down on classroom noise.
Keep in mind that it’s important to vary techniques and to experiment with new methods. Things that work in one group might not work in another group so be prepared to adapt and change according to your needs, and the children’s needs.