How do we reduce noise levels, especially in the hallways and in the cafeteria?
When I taught this (hierarchy below) to the children, I asked them what they knew about using different voices. I told them I was thinking of giving numbers to noise levels and wrote the level numbers on the board. I then asked them what they thought each level might sound like, starting with zero. THEY PROVIDED THE DEFINITIONS AND EXAMPLES OF HOW EACH LEVEL SOUNDS.
Level zero – Silence
Level 1 – Whispering
(Only the person you are whispering to should hear you.)
Level 2 – Speaking voice
(The one you use when having a conversation)
Level 3 – Group voice
(The voice you use when giving a report to a group. This is the voice I use when teaching.)
Level 4 – Playground voice
(The voice you use when you are playing games or shouting to your friends)
Level 5 – SCREAMING
(This voice is what you use when you are hurt or in danger. The only time you might use this voice when you are not in danger is when you are cheering for a sports team.)
Kids don’t really know how to control their voices very well and need specific instruction on how and why to do so, as well as a way to remember. I have been telling them that when they are sitting at their table group that they should have “Table Group” voices. That means that only someone at their table group needs to and should hear their voice. If someone at the next table hears them or if I hear them, then it’s too loud. I added “Partner voice.” They were doing an activity in pairs and I explained that their partner was the only one who needed to hear them. We talked about sitting close to their partner and making sure that he/she was the only one to hear. IF WE MAKE A GENERAL STATEMENT TELLING THEM TO TALK QUIETLY, IT JUST ISN’T ENOUGH TO GET THEM TO UNDERSTAND HOW OR WHY TO DO SO.
I use soft music to set the tone in my room. I tell my students if they talk they can’t hear the music. I find that if I allow my students the opportunity to talk using level 1 (whisper voice) they can share ideas and work, too. I tell them that if they are using level 1 the only person that will hear them is the person right next to them. If I hear them, they know automatically that they will be told to use zero level voice. The choice is left for them to decide.
If they come into the class using a level 2 or 3 voice, I instruct them to return to the hall and enter again because I know they can do a better job. It’s amazing how they respond when they are challenged or if they feel it’s their choice.
Voice levels are the only way to go!