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Attention Signals & Quiet Signals

Compiled By: Risa

Various suggestions to get the attention of the whole class to prepare them for various other activities or to get them quiet. Some may be more appropriate for younger students, while others work better for older students.

Hands on Top
Posted by: bobcat

I read this somewhere on these boards and it is cute! When I want my kids to put everything down and look at me, I chant "Hands on top" while putting my hands on my head. They respond "Everybody STOP" while putting their hands on their heads. It works well, because they can't put their hands on their heads and hold crayons, pencils, etc.. at the same time.

I also like "Hocus, Pocus, Everybody Focus" I read that somewhere on these boards, too, but I haven't used it yet. Maybe this week I'll try it!

Have a great week! :)

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a friend of mine uses
Posted by: mrssimon2gr

looks like
sounds like

at the beginning of the year they brainstorm what good listening looks like, then what it sounds like....
what does a good liine, look like? sound like?

they do this for every situation.....
her class is always very well behaved!

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Posted by: grade4curlyQ

I use the "Shushers" signal to get their attention. It came from Ron Clark, former National Teacher of the Year. Good idea that truly works wonders.
The first week (1st 2 days) I mention that three people will have a very special job and I want to watch them for a few days to determine who should get the job of helping me get everyone's attention.
What I'm really doing is looking for one or two 'obnoxious' - 'showboat'-'loud mouths' .........they don't know this though. These listed students appear to NOT be paying attention, but guess what? They are! They make the best "shushers."
I tell them that when they hear me say "Shushers" their job is to say "ssssshhhhhhh" loud enough for everyone to know to be quiet, yet not 'spit' all over others. This makes them giggle and they seem to take pride in the job as well as always hear me! Go figure?
Works like a charm year after year. 3-4 years now actually.

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No title
Posted by: GoTeachers

When we are lining up and walking down the hallway, I say: "Single File with a Smile." They all face front and grin those usual toothless grins. :D When in class I'll clap twice and they will clap twice and say SWOOSH while acting like throwing a basketball with two hands (hard to describe):rolleyes: But they love both of those. I also have a train whistle I'll blow sometimes just for something different.

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I start to sing
Posted by: relax

our clean up song and everyone joins in. They love to sing!

Twinkle, twinkle little star
Time to clean up where you are
Put your work back in its place
With a smile upon your face
Twinkle, twinkle little star
Time to clean up where you are

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How about...
Posted by: intheloonybin

...spelling out your school mascot's name? This is done at my school and students understand that they need to be quiet and in learning position before we get to the last letter.

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Active Listening
Posted by: Cowbell

I actually stole this from a substitute teacher and it is awesome. Put up your pointer finger and pinky. Make your middle finger and ring finger touch your you would make a "shadow" rabbit. The upper fingers are for ears open. The "together" fingers are for mouths closed. I make the sign and I look for kids making it back. I thank them by name. Thank you, Brianna....Thank you Parker....Pretty soon they are all doing it. If they don't, they know they are breaking a rule and could "sign" the book. I tried the "give me five", but they would put their hand up and I would call on them or ask them "what" and they would say...Nothing! I'm just giving you five! It drove me nuts!

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Ideas to Focus Their Attention
Posted by: Kerri

I came across this idea in Family Fun magazine and I decided to try it this year with my students.

I created a Native American Talking Stick. I used a dowel and wrapped different colored suede laces around it. I attached rabbit fur, feathers, and beads. I printed out some info on the talking stick from the internet.

Here's how it works: Students sit in a circle. The talking stick is passed around. You are only allowed to talk if you are holding the stick. Everyone else must remain silent and respectful.

I plan on explaining the origin and meaning of the talking stick.

I thought that maybe by using this mystical, magical tool from the Native peoples, my students would learn how to be better listeners.

If someone has a question/ response to the speaker, they hold up an Answering Feather.

I'll let you know how this works out.

Any other tricks of the trade for getting students to behave?

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Posted by: smudgie

I use a rain stick to signal circle up.
I use clapping a pattern or I say "Hands on head, eyes on me, 1,2,3, and they repeat to get attention for directions.

Also I say something silly that they respond to - I say "Gracious sakes alive!" They respond, "Great balls of fire!"

I have ordered a chime to use too!

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grab a book
Posted by: pinkjuice

When all else fails for me, I grab a picture book, take a seat on the teacher chair at the rug and whisper "If you can hear me, come join me on the rug. Let's tiptoe quiet as mice."

When the kids see the others getting up to go to the rug, they are usually quick to close their mouths and join us. :)

Other times I'll just start reading the book right there.

As this is my all else fails method - it usually means I'm pretty p.o.'d. So, I always follow up with the frustration talk. Usually they are very understanding and better listeners for a few weeks!

Other ideas: Teach your class a poem - post it and start to recite it when they're chatty, they'll join in.
Skip count - by 2s, 3s, 5s, etc. It's a great way to get them used to skip counting too! And by the time some of the talkative students join in they're getting practice in the higher numbers - which is what we all need!
Wait, don't ever talk over them. You are important and deserve to be heard!

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this really works...
Posted by: BirdSong

I've tried all kinds of things from raising my hand and quietly waiting to using a train whistle. Eventually, the kids get numb to it. A very experiences colleague of mine suggested this (and I've used it ever since): After asking them to get quiet and they don't, put your hand in the air and count to a 2 second beat using your fingers. Don't say a word. My kids know that for every finger I raise, that's 1 minute off thier recess for the day or the next day if we've already had recess. When the first student sees me counting, they are quick to bring it to the attention of everyone else. It gets quiet very quickly and I let them know how many minutes they lost. I keep track on the board so they see how their behavior affects their day...and that there are consequences. This may sound harsh, but there are only 2-3 days in the entire year when I have to take away the whole recess...and usually it is only about 4 minutes. I also give them the chance to earn back time by showing good behavior in the halls, special areas, etc...

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Posted by: ee

a few more quiet signals:
catch a bubble: students take a breath and hold it
be a snail: middle finger and ring finger and thumb press together. Pinky and pointer go up (antennae of the snail) We hold our hand in that position as a reminder to be quiet

I chant: 1,2,3 eyes on me
kids respond: 1,2 eyes on you

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Posted by: sarahNC

In my class when I needed the students attention, I would say, "One, Two" The students reply, "Eyes on you" Then I say, "three, four" and students reply, "talk no more" This worked well and the students enjoyed it. Sometimes I would have a student reply "shut the door" they would quickly fix their mistake. However I noticed that you wanted a quiet signal, in which case the give me five is a great idea. Sometimes the kids would get loud with out chant. Good luck!

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Posted by: Bertie

Just change up your signals, and use various ones. One won't last all year. There are good ideas here, I'll add the good ol fashioned teachers bell, a music box, saying "One Two Three, Eyes On Me" (they answer "One Two, Eyes on You!".......

and a chant we change for the seasons;
One Jack o lantern
Two Jack o lantern
Three Jack o lantern
Boo! It's Halloween!

One Turkey
Two Turkey
Three Turkey
Happy Thanksgiving!

you get the idea........

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Give me 5
Posted by: ZoeMaui

I say "Give Me 5" and put a hand up. They follow by putting a hand up and I go through each finger:

Eyes are looking
Ears are listening
Lips are closed
Hand are still
Feed are quiet

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Posted by: Zee

I use "give me three" which stands for stop, look, and listen. I am also using Behavior Bingo (which someone posted on here earlier this summer). I like the idea of timing the students and seeing if they can beat their record. They seem to do very well when they are timed. I have attached the poster that I made for "give me three" that I made as well as the Behavior Bingo board that was posted earlier this summer. "Give me Three" worked well last year for me. This year's class is a lot more talkative, so I may have to get more creative.

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On 5 . . .
Posted by: J.Elaine

:oIt may sound kind of silly when I type it out, but here's what I do.

Raise my hand and say (rather loudly), "On 5, you are getting quiet."
Then a little quieter, "On 4, everyone is heading back to his or her own seat."
A little quieter yet, "On 3, you are getting ready to listen."
Even quieter, "On 2, all eyes on me."
Then quietest of all, "On 1, . . . . (start giving instructions)"

Of course, I don't always say the same things, but the point is I raise my hand to get their attention and get a little quieter each time as I count down. Sometimes everyone is ready to listen by the time I get to 4!!!!!! :) It works very well for me and my 4th and 5th graders.

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No title
Posted by: BKTeacher

Depending on what mood I'm in I'll say this in a normal voice:

If you're listening clap your hands...(clap, clap)
If you're listening touch your nose...(touch your nose)
If you're listening touch your head...(touch your head)
If you're listening touch your chin...(touch your chin).
Then I repeat it until I get everyone's attention. Usually I only have to say this twice.

You can use different variations to this as well.

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No title
Posted by: plinton

I always say in a regular toned voice, "if you are listening touch your ear". If not everyone is tuned in I will continue with "touch your nose". If needed continue with touching other places like elbow, eyes, knees, until the group is with you.

Our school also does a "Give me Five" program that is campus wide K - 2. We have a large poster of a hand. Each finger starting with pinky: eyes on speaker, mouth quiet, body still, ears listening, hands free. Anytime an adult holds up their hand and says "give me five" the children stop and look at them. There are always the few that you have to wait to get their attention.

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3 observations from a student teacher
Posted by: nene

Hello everyone~ I am a student teacher observing a second grade classroom. The students are a little “feisty”; therefore my cooperating teacher has employed a variety of signals to get the students attention. As an observer I am able to see how these different signals have worked. My cooperating teacher gave me a wonderful piece of advice, “kids don’t want to miss out on anything that their peers may be doing. If you can get the group to start something, however trivial it may be, the other students will play copycat. It is up to you to create a fun, new way to get the students attention”. Here are three examples that I have observed.

~Clapping your hands in patterns and having the students follow the patters; make sure to change the pattern each time so that the students stay engaged in the activity. This will prompt the disruptive students to focus on the patterns.

~Softly start to sing a song that the students know. (We use songs the students are working on in music class and seasonal songs.) As more students join in the song gets louder until all of the students are singing.

~The “S” sound. Softly start the “s” sound. The students will follow your lead.

These three examples have been used successfully in classroom I am observing. I was amazed to see how the simplest thing could focus the student’s attention. Once the attention was focused the teacher transitioned to the next activity.

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No title
Posted by: dee

you wrote: "I then see students who were still start to move just to get my attention."


Ring the bell, praise only those who are freezing (immediate verbal, then a surprise reward perhaps).

Second graders will do what they can for attention, good or bad, and if you only say Johhny, please freeze, that's reinforcing attention for a behavior you don't want. Mary, thank you for freezing should result in more students freezing.

Hope this helps!

When I taught first, instead of writing "bad" kids on the board, I write "good" kids on the board. You will not believe the difference this made in my classroom!

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Posted by: bertie

I agree with anon and dee - perhaps some variety is needed, perhaps the signal has been overused, and you will only be giving attention to those following your instructions. But I just wanted to add this in case it helps

-two days isn't long, keep practicing what you want from the class

-maybe "freezing" is not what you really want.....are you ringing the bell to get attention so you can give new instructions? Then maybe what you really want from the children is simply silence when you ring the bell, rather than "freezing".

-Are you perhaps waiting too long after the bell to get to the point? Whatever signal I use, its because I want their attention for a second or two, long enough to say my next instruction. So we practiced putting down what was in their hand, and looking at me immediately. I never waited more than those few seconds, I got right into whatever I wanted to say.

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Thanks for the post!
Posted by: Socks

I have had this problem too in the five days we've been in school. I taught my kids several different quiet signals. The one they respond to the best is when I sing the McDonald's commercial "Ba da ba ba bah" and they repeat with "I"m lovin' it!" They think it's great! However, we still have friends who start talking a few seconds later. After reading your post, I started thinking about it. I use a system similar to the card system and I agree it would be difficult even to pin point the few that are talking. I also use a whole class behavior system called Behavior Bingo which I found on here and the kids are really into it. I might try this: When the kids hear the quiet signal and get quiet (which they do) I will start a timer and I'll see how long they can stay quiet. I'll post their time on the board and pull a Bingo Chip. Each time they beat their time, I'll post it on the board and give them another chip. I'll start it on Monday and let you know how it goes! Thanks again for making me think about it!

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No title
Posted by: HeatherBrook

Here's the problem-- you're trying to control someone else, when the only person you can control is you. Instead of telling them what to do, tell then what you do. For example, I use these 3 rules for me. (The kids love it when I say that these rules are not for them....they are rules for the teacher! 1) I listen to 1 student at a time. 2) I listen to kids that raise their hands. 3) I teach when there are no distractions.

For the first few days you tell them these every time before you're going to explain something whole group. After awhile, they can finish the sentece for you. Last year kids would even say to each other "shhhhh! She only teaches when there are no distractions!!"

This is usually enough to stop the problem, but if you have to, when it's recess time you just get really sad and say, "Oh guys, this is so sad. We're supposed to be going out to recess right now, but remember earlier when I had to keep stoping because I was being distracted? Well, now we have to make up that time during part of recess. I'm sure tomorrow we will get another chance to make it to recess on time."

There ya go--- no complicated systems, card pulling, bribes...

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"When your hands are a clappin'
Posted by: Combow

Your lips can't be flappin'"

I clap the first five claps of the pattern -dah, dah, dah, dah, dah---
then they clap in response-- dah, dah!
It's hard to to type in the pattern, but it's the same one everyone knows and uses to knock a friendly knock on a door.

Just like someone else posted-- Once I clapped my hands to get my students to quiet down in an assembly and my former students in 5th and 6th grade clapped in response and the whole gym quieted down. It was a neat feeling! :)

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Posted by: tnteacherman

I use Music in my classroom. Students work or whisper talk in group work until the particular song (length determined by time needed) ends then all know that it is time to be silent. It has worked really well at keeping the kids on task, for getting their attention when their time is over, and getting focused back on me. It also helps in blocking the "extra" noises that seem to distract some kids (i.e. other groups talking, the lights humming, outside sounds, etc.) The students really enjoy hearing some of my "oldies" as well since most finish their task a little early and can focus on the music. Hope this helps!

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class signals
Posted by: Deah

I wind up a musical jewelry box on Monday. When I need their attention, I open the box and the music begins. If there is music left on Friday afternoon they receive a treat or free time

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Posted by: ashleymarie81

I've used Aretha Franklin's, Respect, to cue my students when it is time to line up for lunch, activity, recess, etc. I will secretly tell a student to "hit play" and the music comes on. As soon as my students hear the song they immediately stop what they're doing, push in their chairs and quietly line up. If they're not lined up when the song is over (which never happened), they have to move their clip as a consequence.

The song is fun and upbeat and it's funny to see the kids lining up quietly but yet somewhat dancing with their head bobbing too.

We practiced this a lot during the first couple of weeks of school.


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Try a bell
Posted by: Mrs. G

Try bringing a bell with you and only use it when you need to get there attention. Using something too much will cause the children to become "numb" to it. I use a combination of attention getters in my room bell, lights, and counting. The element of surprise usually settles them down.

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No title
Posted by: Miss Aussie

I have had success with jingle bells (the sleigh bells that you have in the music room) from early primary right through to 6th grade. When I jingle them it means hands on heads and lips closed. With the older grades I award table points or marbles for the jar as an incentive to be the first table giving me their attention. This way they work as teams to be the first listening. I find it very effective and the table points are their focus and they don't feel 'babyish' putting their hands on their heads.

Hope this helps

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Posted by: FischerTeach

As a part of my school's ITI program, we all have a set of chimes that I like to use for my quiet signal. The sound is pleasant and not too loud, but it gets the kids attention quickly.

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Posted by: denisealice

I have always simply used a bell...I have at the reading table and one at the overhead....when I ring it they are to stop and give me their attention...most days it works very well...sometimes it's just for a momentary reminder, changing activities, etc.

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Transition Treat
Posted by: HARteach

I have a silly sounding buzzer for when we do transitions. I ask them to get something out and hit the buzzer. Students have to get their books Quickly and Quietly. If they all do this before the buzzer runs out, they get a marble in a jar (titled- transition treat). At the end of the day if they were able to put all the marbles in the jar (ex- 5 marbles for 5 transition times), they get a treat before they leave, such as a pretzel, animal crackers, etc. When the jar is filled they can have a popcorn party! The kids enjoy this!

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two suggestions
Posted by: ismile

I have used a bell in my classroom and teach the following:
1 ring: freeze and eyes on the teacher, ready to listen
2 rings: quickly find your seat
3 rings: push in your chairs and set in the carpet area

Also, I have a management spot where I do the "management talks". At the beginning of the year I use a hula hoop on the floor where my management spot is...this is where I would talk to the class about their behavior, give consequences, etc. If I have to go over to the spot during an activity or lesson, they loose time from recess or whatnot. Eventually, as they as me walk towards the spot, they would quiet down and get back on task without me having to say a word. The idea behind a management spot is that you don't contaminate the teaching area. (Envoy classroom management- non verbal techniques)

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Listeners, Please
Posted by: 4strong

I explain what a good listener looks and act like: eyes on speaker, ears listening, mouth closed, hands and feet still. We practice. We talk about how important body language is, and how it shows respect.

I start practicing the first day and continue practicing each day. I say, "Listeners, please." Students are to stop what they are doing and turn toward me, so I can see all eyes. They can be in groups all around the room, but they know they need to turn and listen.

It's been working for me...sometimes I have to say the phrase twice, but I make a big deal about having to do that :-)

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What is your attention signal?
Posted by: sarahmarie

I am trying to think of a signal that I want to use to get the kids' attention. So far I have come up with
* 1,2,3 eyes on me....1,2 eyes on you
* Clapping pattern
* If you are listening touch your head, etc.
What has worked best for you? Do you use several signals or just one?

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