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Kishkumen 10-23-2017 07:21 PM

Quiet Monitors?
I have a sensory issue where it's impossible to determine which student is talking. As a result, there is no way to apply consequences for talking other than barking at the whole class. It was suggested that I use student monitors to help with my 3rd grade class.

This didn't work last year because:
不tudents lost instructional time managing the classroom for me
不tudents abused their power by falsely accusing rivals and letting their friends get away with talking
品t required a lot of extra time in the classroom as I looked at their charts and slid students up and down the clip chart.
不tudents in the back can't see mouths moving, and students in the front have face backwards to do their job.

However, a further suggestion was that the program could would if:
不tudents were not out to "catch" offenders
不tudents were rewarded if they had a quiet area and didn't have problems.

any idea how to do this?

Gromit 10-26-2017 01:21 PM

Talking isn't the problem. Talking is only a problem because of its effect, and it's usually a problem for one or more of a few reasons:

1) student is not paying attention to instruction
2) student is preventing others from paying attention to instruction because he's engaged in conversation with them
3) student is not working independently
4) student is preventing others from working independently by being a distraction
5) student is slower to perform tasks than he could otherwise be

For 1&2 -- you can develop the skill of seeing who is talking by recognizing body language, lip movement, and whether they're "with you" during instrution

For 3 & 5 -- as you circulate the classroom, you'll see that talking student isn't working efficiently AND/OR you implement time limits for independent work and consequences for not finishing and let the talking sort itself out

For 4 -- this one is the only one I can see peer monitoring working -- teach th class a quiet signal for them to give you if another student(s) is preventing them from focusing because of chatter. They give the signal - a quiet coyote hand signal or a finger in the air or hand on head or whatever - and you can look in that direction for the body language/lip movement. Eventually, the talkative student might even self-check before you have to do anything.

Anyway, those are just some of my brainstorms.

I would not do clip charts at all, but especially not for something you can't personally monitor.

Kishkumen 10-26-2017 06:42 PM

Thanks for your response, but my brain cannot notice with sound or vision who is off-task. Twelve years ago I was told this would "come with experience". Last year I realized that most people can filter out background noise. It was like discovering that I'm the only person who cannot bend steel with my mind. The magic ability to determine who is off-task is not going to arrive, so I need another way to bend steel, some kind of workaround.

What I'm looking for is a technique that can be implemented when quiet signals are ignored by 1/3 of the class, when established procedures no longer work, when sound comes from all directions, and yet individual students all appear to be on-task. At present, all I can do is bark at the class every minute when the noise gets too loud.

Fenwick 10-27-2017 07:46 PM

I'm confused. Do you have a physical disability that prevents you from hearing or seeing what students are doing?

Kishkumen 10-29-2017 07:25 AM

My brain cannot determine the source if there are multiple sources of noise. I hear it from all directions at once. And for some reason, I don't notice visual clues if there are more than one. I suspect my attention is diverted so rapidly that it's impossible to focus on just one off-task student, kind of like how a school of fish distracts a shark.

If there's just one pair of students off-task or talking, I can deal with it. But if there are two or three locations, I see all students on-task with noise being "piped in" via a loudspeaker. All I can do is bark at the whole class.

This was first realized last year, after a decade of wondering why every class management technique fails when I attempt it. I do what other teachers use, but after a month of establishing procedures, these techniques become steadily less-effective. I'll spend more and more time "practicing procedures" during the year just to slow the decline.

One quarter into the year, there are now students ignoring call-back signals. Students are starting to talk before I finish one sentence of instruction. Students start talking as soon as I start small group time. Students will start talking when someone enters the classroom with a question. The second I'm no longer looking directly at the entire class, the noise starts, and I have no idea who is doing it. The students see that my expectations cannot be enforced, and the problem gets worse.

Circulating the room, visual scanning, positive reinforcement, table points, etc. all eventually fail by the middle of the year. I can only conclude that there is a sensory issue that prevents me from picking out individuals.

Lillybabe 10-29-2017 08:53 AM

My suggestion is going to sound mean but it might work. When you want all students working independently or listening (ie no talking at all) set that as an expectation. Give a reward or consequence if there are any sounds/talking at all. If you expect 100% compliance and one or two kids are always getting others in trouble (or making them lose a reward) everyone is going to start telling you who the troublemakers are. Once you start hearing "But Bobby's the only one talking!" you can start focusing on just that one student. According to many things I have read on classroom management if it's more than 1 or 2 students talking (which you'd notice I think even with your sensory issue) then the whole class is likely off task and you need to have more practice with procedures. With my kindergarten group (I did this with 5th/6th too) when we practice stamina for independent reading and writing I set a timer for a specific time (we're up to 10 minutes now) and the expectation is no one talks or distracts others for the entire time. I shower them with praise and Dojo points if we make the goal and because it's so quiet I can easily pick out the one or two who decide to break the rules. As far as catching who is off task I would just pick an area or section of the room to hone in on at any one time. Look at each child in that area and make eye contact while you're giving directions or watching for independent working. Whoever is able to quickly make eye contact or whose eyes are locked in on what they are doing is on task. Anyone who takes more than a few seconds to notice you or who is looking all about is off task.

Munchkins 10-29-2017 08:58 AM

If you can't notice who is off task, how can you effectively keep a class on task? Maybe that's what you're asking?

I would look for a position where I worked with small groups and not a full class. I have good classroom management, and can't always tell who is talking if I'm not looking at them, but I've never heard of not being able to visually tell who is off task.

The only other suggestion is to have them work together as a class, stressing the positive. All for one and one for all. Celebrate a productive reading class with a GoNoodle video (free online resource) or a 30 second dance party. Keep the celebrations (I don't reward expected behaviors, but we celebrate successes.)

Good luck!

Lakeside 10-29-2017 09:01 AM

I understand.
I feel the same way sometimes when I sub. I don't think I have as bad an issue, because I'm OK if I can see their faces, but when in an unfamiliar classroom, I don't know their voices, so I often can't tell who is talking if I am writing on the board, or helping someone in the back of the room.


不tudents abused their power by falsely accusing rivals and letting their friends get away with talking
This is exactly why I never use student talking monitors!

But I agree that


...the program could would if:
不tudents were not out to "catch" offenders
不tudents were rewarded if they had a quiet area and didn't have problems.
So if you want to stop barking at noise, reward quiet instead. Mark off a section of your whiteboard as a chart, with a box for each ____ minutes (2? 5? 10? not sure exactly) that they are to be listening/working quietly.

If they have been quiet at the end of that period of time, you mark a star in the box. So many stars equals a reward (extra 5 minutes of recess, social time at the end of the day, skip two questions on homework...whatever you want to use).

The kids will remind each other to be quiet because they want to share in the reward.

Kishkumen 10-29-2017 02:14 PM

I'm hoping I'm not the only one with this problem. Everyone I've talked to simply says "don't let them talk". It wasn't until last year I realized that most people can actually filter out background distractions. I would just see students magically respond to them, yet when I set up the same procedures, it wouldn't work for me. This is because they can determine who is talking, so students who choose not to follow the rules are quickly dealt with.

This week I've tried a stopwatch, and I'll add time to their Fun Friday until I hear one voice. Sometimes they'll get two or three seconds, but sometimes they'll get a couple of minutes as we walk down the hall.

When I give the call back signal, I'll start counting how long it takes to get everyone's attention. Students have gained two or three minutes during the day, but then will cumulatively lose two or three minutes talking during instruction. But at the end of the week they'll have ten minutes of free time to play board games. Lets hope this practice keeps working.

•If the noise gets too loud, I have difficulty processing language of any kind (reading, hearing, writing) or even thinking clearly. Often a student's disruption is obvious, and I can't think clear enough to do anything.

•Whole-class instruction works well. Because things are much quieter, I can usually tell who is talking and deal with them.

•It's really tough during independent work such as partner talk, group work, and shoulder partner reading. These require students to talk, and even when I'm sitting next to a group, I cannot understand if kids are talking about the lesson. They could be discussing anything, and I'd never notice so long as they have work in front of them.

•no, I can't tell voices apart. Two or more voices become a monotonous hum.

•Rewarding silence is without merit if the students never actually get silent. I have to accept a low level of talking, because silence is not a reasonable goal.
I can guesses at students, though. I'm afraid of getting it wrong and punishing a quiet student.

•The expectations had been well-established after a month of practice, but now they're slipping.

•Students are actually fine in the morning, but in the two hours after lunch they're unresponsive. I have to give "silent reading" breaks mainly so I can have a break from the noise.

•My class is now down to 27 third-graders now that some of them have moved out. The smaller class size is making a difference.

Fenwick 10-29-2017 09:16 PM


I'm hoping I'm not the only one with this problem. Everyone I've talked to simply says "don't let them talk". It wasn't until last year I realized that most people can actually filter out background distractions. I would just see students magically respond to them, yet when I set up the same procedures, it wouldn't work for me. This is because they can determine who is talking, so students who choose not to follow the rules are quickly dealt with. ...
No teacher is able to hear and/or see every disruption. That's not realistic. Students play many more games than there are remedies. Goal is to reduce disruption to a level where the few students who do disrupt become part of the teacher's radar. How do you know who should be on the screen? When working the crowd during guided practice consider "hook and look".

Hook and look means to approach the student's desk who has raised hand for help from the direction which, when bending down to help, affords the best view of the class. Example: Say you are cruising around in the middle of the room and a student raises hand in front row. Easiest and quickest route is to walk between aisle one and two and help student from behind, leaning in from side or back of seat. This is also the worst position in terms of management. Your back is facing the majority of the class. This is when kids think, "Great! She can't see me. Time to go for it!"

Technique is to walk around to the front of student's desk (hook) so when you bend down you are facing the class. If it's the back row you would go around behind student (opposite than front) so, again, when you bend down the class is in view. Think "Which direction should I be facing that will keep the class in view?" The "Look" part is a little trickier (the part I always forgot during training) -- After placing your bod to see most of the class start to bend over to help the student but pause half way down and raise s-l-o-w-l-y back up. Look at the class, especially any targets you suspect may be off task. I'll bet you will have 2-3 faces staring right back at you. Why? They are watching and waiting for you to be engrossed in helping the student as their signal to start goofing off. When you stand calmly back up, look and wait it throws a wrench into their plans. At this point they can either raise the anti and do something overt right in front of the teacher (not wise) or get back to work. Most will choose work. Do this a couple times and soon through your actions students won't try the out-of-sight-out-of-mind game.

Kishkumen 10-30-2017 05:41 PM

I've been doing Hook and Look for years. I actually wear construction knee pads so I can drop to one knee and keep my head level, rather than bending down. This keeps my field of vision wider than if I were looking down.

But I'll try the second-look technique tomorrow.

NCteacher 11-03-2017 02:17 AM

Uses the microphone on your commuter to monitor noise. It痴 visual- the balls bounce the bigger the more noise. My kids love it. We set challenges sometimes- let痴 see how long we can keep the balls still.

cattleya 11-16-2017 09:14 AM

I like bouncy balls. it is better if you can put it on a smart board.

I have also put a post-it note on the upper part of the desks and while I wander around watching their work give a mark to those who are quiet, and on task. At the end of 5 marks (for example), they might get a star on a card. When they get a certain amount of stars, they get a reward. I do not like the toys/candy/food rewards, but a reward of getting to work on "your own project, from home" (for instance) is a good one.

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