Four Solutions for a Talkative Class

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This week on the blog, we’ve been analyzing problems and solutions for specific whole group behavior challenges that mess with the cohesive, collaborative culture we’re trying to create. In other words, these kids are making our eyes twitch and our hair fall out. Today we’re going to talk about the class that won’t shut up is a bit chatty during instructional time. Let’s analyze the talkative class problem and dive into some solutions.

Problem: You Have a Super Talkative Class

From the minute they walk in your room, these young’uns talk loudly enough to wake the folks resting at the cemetery down the street. When you hear them coming all the way from breakfast in the cafeteria, the vein in your forehead starts to throb. Once they get into class, they interrupt you, they cut off their classmates, and they don’t even know they have a hand to raise. When one talks, the other talks more loudly to be heard over the first one.

Obviously, these children are all second-born kids who cut their own umbilical cords and immediately struck up a conversation with the obstetrician about MinecraftTM. By some odd twist of fate, the principal gave all these loquacious little learners to you. In any case, WTH are you going to do about it?

Solution #1

Let them talk once in a while. There I said it. As the old saying states, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” You cannot force a bunch of verbal kids to sit in rows and be quiet all day without causing angst and discontent that will lead to more serious behavior issues. Give these chatterboxes a chance to talk while they do their morning work. Chances are, your talkative class can be chatty and productive at the same time.

Incorporate more student talk into your lessons. Use “turn and talk” as much as possible. I wrote about it here, and it is a great instructional strategy. When students verbalize what they are learning in smaller chunks as you teach it, they internalize the new information more thoroughly.

Give kids a chance to collaborate and work together as much as possible. Many kids in a talkative class are auditory learners. They have to hear information to learn it. These kids talk, tap, sing, and hum all day long. Need them to memorize facts? Teach them a song. Reading a passage? Encourage them to whisper read.

Solution #2

Productive talk is great until the volume in the room cracks the walls. This is where voice level instruction comes in. At this time, our district uses a voice level scale like this one:

  • Voice Level 0: no talking
  • Voice Level 1: whispering
  • Voice Level 2: Table talk
  • Voice Level 3: Teacher talk or presentation talk
  • Voice Level 4: Outside voices—recess

Teach this scale explicitly with examples and non-examples. Tell them that in your room a voice level 0 is for a test, fire drill, or lock down. They may use a voice level 1 during independent work or other partner activity. A voice level 2 is appropriate for small group time or a collaborative project. This is the voice level of the cafeteria. Voice level 3 is only used inside during a presentation, and voice level 4 is for recess.

To better reinforce this system, you could get three push lights that adhere to your wall or board. Label them with voice level 0, 1, and 2. Since students won’t use a level three except under very specific circumstances and a voice level 4 is for recess, you don’t need lights for those two levels. Once you stick these lights up, use them as a visual reminder of what their voice levels should be. During a test, leave the voice level 0 light on only. While kids are working independently during your small group time, leave two lights on. If you’re having indoor recess, you can tap all three lights.

Solution #3

How on earth do you get these yammering kids to stop and listen to you? Try callbacks. You call out a phrase, and the students stop what they’re doing and answer you with saying you’ve taught them. Callbacks are an engaging and simple way to cue your students to stop what they are doing and listen. They can also be a fun way to incorporate your class or school theme. Here are a few I’ve used in the past.

Callbacks

  • Teacher: One, two, three—eyes on me; Students: One, two—eyes on you!
  • Teacher: Are you ready to rock? Students: Let’s roll.
  • Teacher: Shark bite? Students: Fish flight!
  • Teacher: Baby Shark! Students: Do Do Do Do Du Do
  • Teacher: Hey, School? Students: Swimming with you!
  • Teacher: Fish on! Students: Reel him in! (By this time, you’ve probably figured that I like to fish!)
  • Teacher: Pop, Pop, Pop! Students: Everybody Stop!
  • Teacher: Hey, School? Students: Swimming with you!
  • Teacher: Class, Class? Students: Yes, Yes!
  • Teacher: Hocus Pocus! Students: Everybody focus!
  • Teacher: Peanut Butter! Students: Jelly Time!
  • Teacher: 10-4 Students: Good Buddies (You have to explain CB talk from back in the day to use this one).
  • Teacher: Where are my friends? Students: Right here!
  • Teacher: If you can hear me clap twice: Students: clap twice
  • Teacher: Claps or snaps in a pattern Students: Repeat pattern
  • Teacher in October: Bubble Bubble Students: There’s no trouble
  • Teacher in November: Where’s that Turkey? Students: No Turkey Here!
  • Teacher in December: Up on the Housetop Students: Reindeer Pause
  • Teacher in Winter: Quiet like… Students: Snowflakes!
  • Teacher in Spring: April Showers Students: May Flowers
  • Teacher in Spring: Hippity Hop: Students: Everybody Stop
  • Teacher: holds up hands like paws and says grade level and the word “Paws” Students: hold up hands like paws quietly
  • Teacher: Who loves you? Students: You do!
  • Teacher: says “hey” and the school mascot Students: make the mascot’s sound
  • Teacher: Are you ready, kids? Students: Aye, Aye, Captain!
  • Teacher: Hands on top! Students: Everybody stop (hands on head)
  • Teacher: Finger on your nose! Students: Mouths are closed (finger on nose)
  • Teacher: Get it Got it? Students: Put it in my pocket!
  • Teacher: Stop! Students: Collaborate and Listen!

There may be times during an emergency situation where you need a silent attention getting cue. In this case, simply raise your hand, and have students raise theirs in response. Make this your non-negotiable. When they see you do this, they know it’s a serious situation. Under no circumstances do they use this moment to try to buck you. Whatever visual cue you teach them should give them butterflies in the tummy when they see you do it in an unannounced situation.  Practice it often but tell the children in advance that you’re drilling so they don’t get scared. You may use a lockdown or fire drill to practice this cue as well.

We live in sketchy times. Generally, we can work with our talkative kids and tolerate their shenanigans. But they have to know that under certain unforeseeable moments, they have to be quiet no matter what.  

Solution #4

Classroom rewards are another great way to motivate your students to control their chattiness. Earlier, I wrote quite a bit about positive behavior rewards here. This will help you with your super chatty class. I also have some behavior incentive coupons here.

By and large, these solutions will help your talkative class control their voice levels. As I have said, if your class is extremely verbal, your room will never be quiet. If you use these strategies, though, your room will be under control. In reality, that’s what you want, isn’t it?

Before You Go…

Are you ready to take these strategies to the next level and explore some mindfulness with your students?

You may be interested in my Mindful Moment Writing Prompts.

Using these strategies may keep your classroom from resembling at category 5 hurricane, but late summer and early fall are prime times for a hurricane to head up the coast. Need to teach a weather unit? Need to prepare your students for some crazy weather? Here are a few products centering around my favorite twin characters, Tasha and Tio, that might help!

If you’re still in back to school mode, check out this category for more Tasha and Tio products and all sorts of freebies for your first weeks in the classroom!

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