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25 Attention Grabbing Tips for the Classroom

Whether you're a new or experienced teacher, strategies for getting student attention are an important part of your classroom-management toolkit. In this presentation you’ll find 25 tips for quieting a noisy class.

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25 Attention Grabbing Tips for the Classroom

  1. 1. 25 Attention-Grabbing Tips for the Classroom from the Edutopia Community
  2. 2. Introduction Whether you’re a new or experienced teacher, strategies for getting student attention are an important part of your classroom-management toolkit. In this guide you’ll find 25 tips for quieting a noisy class. These attention grabbers were contributed by educators from Edutopia’s community. Join us at edutopia.org/community.
  3. 3. Tip: Project the timer onto a screen so students know how much time is left. "...there is a timer you can install on your computer. You can project it with the projector, and it lets the students know how much time is left...before they need to be quiet." —Cristina, High School Algebra Teacher, TX Project It
  4. 4. Tip: Assign timekeeping duties to a student. "...the Timekeeper watches the clock at the bottom of his/her screen and when that magic 5-minute moment arrives, is allowed to STAND ON HIS/HER CHAIR and ring the chime. That child is then responsible for putting the chime away and seeing that everyone logs out, pushes in keyboard & chair, and lines up in time for the next group. It's a coveted privilege...Whenever possible, outsource responsibility to the kids!" —Lin Jenkins I am the Timekeeper
  5. 5. Minute for Minute Tip: Students stay late for every minute wasted. "When it gets noisy, I get completely still and look at the clock. It usually takes less than 10 seconds to shush everyone, because they don’t want to stay late." —Ann Hyde, Special Education English Teacher, Anchorage, AK
  6. 6. Tip: You introduce the rhythm; students clap it back to you in response. "It takes 10 seconds to get 500 children quiet with echo clapping...think in terms of long and short sounds, as in 'long, long, short, short, long' or 'short, short, long, short, short, long.'" —Jackie Vandenberg Echo Clapping
  7. 7. Tip: Call out a word or phrase; students respond with another word or phrase. "The teacher asks 'Ready to rock?'...and the students reply 'Ready to roll'...you have to teach it...and maintain it...but the students really loved it and responded well. Good luck finding your voice and what works for you." —Michelle Knotts Call & Response
  8. 8. Tip: A variation on call & response is to teach students a four-line rhyme for two sets of calls & responses. "I say the first line, they respond with the second. I say the third, they say the fourth. You can say anything, but I used, 'Oh my goodness, oh my dear,' and they would say, 'Sassafras and ginger beer.' (I think they liked to say beer.)" —Grace Attanasio Shickler Call & Response 2
  9. 9. Tip: A variation where students suggest silly two-part words or phrases. "As a group, come up with a two-part word or phrase together...'cool whip,' 'focus time,' 'red-robin yumm,' etc. The procedure is key: you will raise your hand...and say the first part...every student will then immediately raise their hand and respond with the second portion, and no further talking or movement...it doesn't get stale because the words are silly." —Patty Call & Response 3
  10. 10. Tip: Do something unexpected or humorous; show your students your humanity. "...I turn to my whiteboard and start talking to it as if it was a real person. After a few seconds, the students notice and giggle about it a bit and then they question me as to 'why are you talking to the board?' Then I explain that it appeared to be the only thing listening to me...it actually gets a little laugh for the kids (who think I've lost it!), but gets the room quiet so that I can begin the lesson." —Lydia Gonzalez, 3rd Year Teacher, 7th Grade Math Humor is Human
  11. 11. Tip: Help students transition with a knock-knock joke. "I love to laugh and love to make my 'little ones' laugh as well. So to get their attention, I clap twice loud, and then say, 'Knock-knock,' after which they will reply with, 'Who's there?' Then, I proceed to tell them a knock-knock joke that also has the next activity we will do included in it." —Ms. Dieujuste, 1st Grade Teacher, Miami, FL Knock-Knock
  12. 12. Tip: Count down by turning off banks of lights in sequence. "I turn off 1 bank of classroom lights as a warning then do the 2nd bank when it's time to freeze and listen when things are finished." —Michelle Murphy Ramey Take It to the Bank
  13. 13. Tip: Use the cue, “Give me 5.” "I don't want to waste more than a couple of seconds [when I] want their attention. I use one of their cues, 'Give me 5' and raise my hand. It usually takes a couple of seconds for all eyes, hands and mouths to be focused." —Deborah Thiessen Cues & Clues
  14. 14. Tip: Use music to help close an activity and transition to the next. "I used a symphonic CD on the smartboard to do transitions. When it was time to start wrapping it up, I'd start the CD and let the design show on the screen that went with the music. They hurried to clean up so they could watch the design..." —Cynthia Hendrix Mederios, New Teacher & 3rd Grade Substitute Musical Transitions
  15. 15. Tip: Use weird sounds for your timers to get student attention. "...set the sound for crickets chirping or a duck quacking...Part of the process of becoming a teacher is finding what works for you, and teaching your students those cues and the lines beyond which you will not go." —Kathy Morlan, High School English Teacher Weird Sounds
  16. 16. Tip: Use lights and music to signal one minute until the activity ends. "Buy one of those disco ball lamps and when kids see the lights going around the room they have one minute to finish up and be ready for next activity. Play a song -- when it starts, kids know to wrap up -- by time it's done, all eyes on you -- also cool if it's the same song every time." —Cary Nadzak, Middle School, Social Studies, SC Stayin' Alive
  17. 17. Tip: Teach a series of movements that students mimic, e.g. hand on head, finger on nose, etc. "Sometimes, in the noisiest of environments, you can get the attention of students without saying a word...after one or two movements, someone starts copying you, then it exponentially spreads throughout the room until you have a silent group." —K. Robinson, 4th Grade Teacher, CA Mirror Movement
  18. 18. Tip: Make the sign for "Quiet Coyote" and wait for students to model it back to you. "...My thumb is pressed to my middle and ring fingers and all three fingers pointing out, with the pinky and index fingers pointing up...I show that sign and say 'Quiet Coyote' and they show it back to me, quietly. The first time I work with a class, I explain that the coyote must be very quiet while it is hunting, so that it won't scare away its next meal. This makes 'be quiet' into a fun game." —Dan Rzetelny Bernard Quiet Coyote
  19. 19. Tip: Adopt the strategy of their previous teacher. "What I find helpful is to continue the technique used by the previous teacher." —Kimberly Hyde, 6-8th Grade Teacher, Orleans, CA Keep It Rolling
  20. 20. Tip: Set goals for group work and ask students to share progress at intervals. "I...find it helpful to set goals when they do group work and ask them to share at intervals. This helps them to keep focused and work at a good pace." —Steven Rookwood, 2nd Grade Teacher, Baltimore, MD Goal Setting
  21. 21. Tip: Establish zones with different allowed noise levels. "I would try to assign a student a job of holding up a sign, which says 'level one,' meaning for one to be quiet; however, this involves a lot of prepping. Level 1: no talking Level 2: whisper Level 3: normal talking voice Level 4: recess voice" —Daniel Taylor In the Zone
  22. 22. Tip: Find a secret code that reminds students how to behave. "SALAME - Stop And Look At ME is a 'secret' code word I teach my students at the beginning of the year." —Angel Bestwick "SLANT. It is an acronym for Sit up. Lean Forward. Act like a third grader. No talking. Track the teacher." —Joshua Burke Secret Code
  23. 23. Tip: Implement a whole school approach. "We have a standardized approach at our school. We start teaching it to the children in the toddler classes." —Mary Kate Land, 4-6th Grade Teacher Start Them Early
  24. 24. Tip: Starting early helps students take ownership of classroom procedures and routines. "The person who needs the group's attention (sometimes it's a student) sounds a tone and then waits. As each person notices, they put down anything they are holding and turn toward the speaker. The speaker finishes every message with 'thank you' and then the group goes back to work. I find that if I wait, those who haven't noticed will get clued in by those who have. It's much more effective when students tell one another, than if I were to tell them." —Mary Kate Land, 4-6th Grade Teacher Start Them Early 2
  25. 25. Tip: Students work together to decide which attention grabbers will work; later, they test and iterate. "...pose the question to your students...ask them to give evidence to support their reasons...take time to have the class reflect on how the method worked...By giving them the power to suggest, they become owners of the method." —Jill Spencer Power of Suggestion
  26. 26. Tip: Give them opportunities to practice time management. "Take the time to teach your students how to do things in your classroom...In my class, the group work that students are given generally has two goals: the curricular goal (finding and creating similes) and the group work goal (keeping an eye on the clock and planning the work accordingly)." —Kathy Morlan, High School English Teacher Practice, Practice
  27. 27. Tip: Survey others, but find what works best for you. "What works for one teacher, might not work for another...If you are able, observe a few teachers this summer, or informally interview some colleagues via email from your school site on what works for them when it comes to getting the attention of students." —Rebecca Alber Find Your Thing
  28. 28. Additional Resources More tips from Edutopia and the web: ● Download Edutopia’s classroom guide: “Ten Tips for Classroom Management” (also available in Spanish). ● Rebecca Alber’s post “Say What? Five Ways to Get Students to Listen” offers useful tips for helping students develop their listening skills. ● “The Zen of Attention,” by teacher Stuart Grauer (from SmartBlog on Education), describes how a Tibetan singing bowl can be used to focus student attention. ● Whatever strategies you use, learn about the importance of consistency in this Teaching Channel video: “Attention Getting Signals: One Spot.”
  29. 29. Special thanks go to the educators who contributed to this guide. For more classroom-management tips and tactics, visit edutopia.org.

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Whether you're a new or experienced teacher, strategies for getting student attention are an important part of your classroom-management toolkit. In this presentation you’ll find 25 tips for quieting a noisy class.


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