Help me find new and fun ways of getting my students' attention
April 21, 2012 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Calling all teachers, camp counselors, parents, educators, and others with related experiences: share your best call-and-response attention-getters! Most of mine have grown stale and I want to mix it up.

I'm a brand new teacher (of 2nd graders, aka 7 and 8 year olds), and as such I am collecting ways of corralling my kids quickly when I need their attention as a whole class. I use traditional ones, such as having them repeat clapping patterns, various musical stings and rimshots, types of "if you can hear my voice do [x]," and so forth. I have also made up a few of my own, including a fun one where I say "if you can hear my voice, signal traveling violation, yerrrrr out!, first down!" (and other referee calls with accompanying hand signals).

But, I find these grow stale pretty quickly and the kids learn to repeat their part without really stopping. Or, they work, but they bore me and feel rote. I'd like to keep things fresh with a steady supply of new ones. Do y'all have anything new I can use? Especially weird, creative, and/or silly ones welcome.

posted by ORthey to Education (18 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
At my Jewish day camp a counselor would shout :" Sheket b'vakah shah!" (Quiet please) when attention was needed.
posted by brujita at 11:20 AM on April 21, 2012

Best answer: Teacher: Bluetooth!
Kids: *hands in the air* Hands-free!

Teacher: *name of school* *mascot animal*!
Kids: We rock!

My preferred method, though, is to not use stuff like this. Check out Responsive Classroom. Develop a quiet signal that uses a musical instrument or flashing the overhead lights. Students should know that when the quiet signal starts, they need to stop what they're doing to give you their full attention.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:28 AM on April 21, 2012

Not to say that the methods you've been using are bad! I just realized that what I wrote may have come across as implying that. I like the attention getters alot -- but I've found that the quiet signals suggested at RC are really calming and students enjoy how dependable they are. :) (The bluetooth one I suggested is really funny though, at least as a one-off.)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:32 AM on April 21, 2012

My son's teacher does, "1,2,3, eyes on me!" and the kids respond, "1,2, eyes on you!"
posted by dotgirl at 11:35 AM on April 21, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks, birds of a feather - I love the bluetooth one. And I hear you on the quiet signal - that's probably ideal. We actually do a lot of Responsive Classroom stuff, including Morning Meeting and games and such. But I've found I really love these fun, sometimes silly attention-getters, at least for this particular group of kids. Our classroom has a little bit of a zany vibe, which might drive me crazy one day, but for now I like the system we have.
posted by ORthey at 11:38 AM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I totally understand! It's definitely a case-by-case sort of deal, these attention getters. I have a big list of other ones somewhere... I'll come back and share some others later. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:41 AM on April 21, 2012

Best answer: The best one my colleagues and I used in corralling younger students in China was:

You say hi, they say hello.

"Hi hi hi!"
"Hello hello hello!"

Then you mix it up to see if they can keep up.

"Hi hello hi hi hello"
"Hello hi hello hello hi"

You have to be careful not to overuse it because the kids get too excited and start doing it to you. Or make it overly complicated because you lose them in their excitement to get it right.

I have so much respect for you and your job. Thanks for your hard work.
posted by sums at 11:54 AM on April 21, 2012

I'm sure you know the clapping one, right? (clap, clap, clap clap clap). That's fun because once you get their attention with the "standard" attention getter, you can do a few complicated / silly ones to bring their focus in.
posted by rossination at 12:02 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

echoing These Birds, throughout my son's school, they use tiny harmonicas. It seems to work quite well. (It probably helps as well that there's it's being treated consistently by different teachers)
posted by spbmp at 12:17 PM on April 21, 2012

Best answer: One of my most effective was to catch one kid's eye and say very quietly, "If you can hear me, do this" and then touch your finger to your nose, or some such. The kid will start to play along. COntinue saying "If you can hear me, do this" over and over, each time doing a different Simon-Says-style action. More and more kids will join each time, until the whole group is silent waiting to hear what you're going to do next. You never have to raise your voice, which is awesome. Best when you're not in a rush, though, as it's gamelike and takes a minute.

Similarly, pick a gesture to imitate, put it into the air, wait for others to notice and gradually the whole room will do it. Ours was the Girl Scout symbol at Girl Scout camp, and "rabbit ears" at Quaker camp (fist will all fingers folded except index and pinky), and I've seen a peace sign elsewhere.

Clap the "shave and a haircut" rhythm and have the class clap back the "two bits!" part
posted by Miko at 12:45 PM on April 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

We did Boom Chicka Boom in Girl Scout Camp. All sorts of variations of this one.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:34 PM on April 21, 2012

We've done pretty well with "Catch a bubble!" (they have to catch and hold a pretend bubble in their mouth) and the Girl Scout quiet sign (hold three fingers in the air and they know to go silent and hold their fingers up when they see it) for my troop of 2nd & 3rd grade Brownies.

Sometimes I'll start singing a song they haven't learned yet. They'll usually stop to listen.

If we're doing something especially loud outdoors we sometimes use a whistle to get attention.
posted by Dojie at 2:19 PM on April 21, 2012

Classic call-and-response camp standby:
"Match in a gas tank--"
(repeat this twice. The first time you say your parts, both you and the kids yell. This gets their attention and gets the giggles out. The second time you do your part, whisper. The kids whisper it back.)

And a modern one:
(this is awfully consumer-driven and only right for some groups, but kids love it. Start with the McDonald's tune:)
"da-da da da-daaa"
"I'm lovin' it!"
posted by samthemander at 2:26 PM on April 21, 2012

Best answer: I use the raising hand gesture Miko describes, and the clapping, and for call-and-response:

"I say Barry, you say Nottingham" (most of the students have seen Bedtime Stories)

Any variation of adjective/thing: "I say stinky, you say puppy" or "I say crispy, you say pickle".

"A cow goes..." "MOOO!"
"A sheep goes..." "Baaa!"
"A snail goes..." " *bewildered silence* "

And counting backwards, going loud to quiet myself as they quiet down: "THREE, TWO, one, quiet."
posted by peagood at 3:49 PM on April 21, 2012

Response by poster: These are great, folks. Love 'em.
posted by ORthey at 4:33 PM on April 21, 2012

One caveat: the"shave and a haircut" ditty = "chinga tu madre" (fuck your mother) in Latin America. Do NOT do this if there are Latino kids in your class.
posted by brujita at 7:50 PM on April 21, 2012

My 4th grade teachers had a rainstick they used to get our attention; we had to get quiet when she used it. It worked really well on us. We had the same teachers for 5th grade-- 4th grade was a 4th/5th combination class, I think it was an experiment, and the 4th graders all stuck with them-- and the rainstick was still there but they stopped using it for attention, so every once in a while a kid would doodle around with it and all the former 4th graders would get quiet and look around and no one else would notice. It was weird.

Not sure if it would work for 2nd grade instead? But it worked well on us.
posted by NoraReed at 9:54 PM on April 21, 2012

A friend would do a quiet signal that involved raising her arm above her head, closing her hand as if it were a puppet's mouth, and saying "hand goes up, mouth goes shut."
posted by MsMolly at 10:52 PM on April 21, 2012

« Older Help me find the best pairings for a cup of smoky...   |   It's a shipwreck. It's a job. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.