I don't know what to do with my class. I have this problem every year but when i look in the other first grade classrooms it always seems like their class is so quiet, even when playing partner games. Partner math games is when i have the most trouble. I know they don't mean to but they just get so loud when playing games. i try to have the games group at the other side of the room away from indepenent (quiet) activity/group but classrooms just aren't that big for it to really make much of a difference. We've gone over quiet voices, i've modeled it, I've stopped them multiple times when they get too loud, I've given consequences to repeat offenders but nothing seems to work. I have no problem getting them to be quiet to listen to me or to stop talking but then 2 minutes later the noise level goes right back up. I don't want to take away partner activities or small group work but it just gets so loud. Is this just the norm of first grade and i should just accept it?
They're even loud when they partner read on the rug if they finish independent morning work early. What am i doing wrong or are my expectations unrealistic?
You need to have them practice whispering to their partner during their own time: recess, free choice, etc. My team used to give the partners "topics" to whisper about and then have them practice whispering and remind them we should not be able to hear what they were saying. After a few practice sessions, they usually do better.
Sometimes I just ask them to be a "watcher" instead of a "doer" since they were too loud. I tell them to watch others to see how they are keeping their voices quiet. Usually after they have had to sit out and not get to play, they usually can remember the neighbor voice. I like the practice during recess time, I might use that one too.
I can't take credit for this, as someone else on here suggested it to me. Why don't you play classical music or some other type of music. Explain to the students that if they can't hear the music, they are talking too loud.
Another thing to pay attention to is your "loud talkers." Some kids, as strange as this sound, don't understand how to modulate their voices when working in a group. If they're listening to everyone, as opposed to just their group, they are going to try to talk over the classroom instead of within their group. OR, if they have leadership/dominant tendencies, they believe that talking loud will result in people following their orders. Talk to those students about their voices, it may help!
I also have used music in my classroom. This sets the mood for work. My first graders understand they must work quietly when the music is playing. I found John Davidson on itunes and I also use New Age music with nature sounds. Compliment them on working quietly with stickers or tickets. If you are consistent, it works. Good Luck!
Talk about what it should look and sound like, make a chart. Model how it should sound, how it should not sound, then how it should sound again to imprint it into their muscle memory. Have students model before going out to work. The moment it gets beyond what you all discussed and modeled signal everyone back to discuss again. This should not have to go on more that a week and by them they will have built more and more minutes of quiet work. I do not take credit for this method, it is from the Daily 5. It really works!!! In any subject area. It just takes a little time and persistence.
Maybe one of your partners would allow you to send a group at a time to the other class to observe how groups should interact. When your groups have rotated through they can discuss it in class.
Also, you might tape them during their noisy periods and then let them enjoy a Friday pm movie. While they are watching this interesting movie play the tape so loud that they can't hear it (make sure your partners are aware that things will be loud for a while) and start to complain. Turn off the movie and discuss noise, finish movie quietly.
My 1st graders are loud loud loud!! They also were not good about following classroom rules like staying in their seat & working on an approriate "finished list" activity if they finished an assignment early. Finally about a week ago I told them that the 2nd grade teachers & I were VERY concerned that they were not going to be ready for second grade in time with the way they were behaving. Then I told them we were going to be visiting the 2nd grade class in small groups to observe what reading to self & independent work times looked and sounded like. This was a pretty big eye opener for them and they were really impressed with the 2nd graders. (Unbeknownst to them I knew before taking them in that the 2nd grade we visited was an exceptionally phenomonal class of students, but still.)
We came back and made a list of what they saw and heard then compared it to what our room looks and sounds like. Ever since then their work skills and noise level have both improved a lot. And when they do begin to resort back to their old ways I just say, "Is this second grade behavior?" and they can quickly adjust. I think for first graders it really helps to give them a concrete visual like this.
All this said, they are still a loud & rambunctious bunch! But hey, baby steps