I have mixed feelings about websites like “Bouncy Balls” that you can use to monitor noise in the classroom. They work by enabling your computer microphone and more noise triggers things to happen on the screen, such as balls bouncing. I mean, even I want to be super loud just to see the effect, so I don’t think they are the most reliable solution if you need your class to be quiet. It seems like these tools might be more effective if they only reacted to protracted moments of quiet. I also think measuring “noise” shouldn’t be equated with measuring the number of students who are on task. And, of course we want students to self-regulate as much as possible. However, sometimes tools like these are a fun novelty and you can always give your students a few minutes to trigger the noise response (which can also help with calibration) and get it out of their systems before quiet time.
Classroom Zen is another option for encouraging quiet moments. It has 4 different scenes (mountains, desert, beach, valley) that each have a cartoonish character who peacefully stands in the middle with eyes closed until things get loud. Then it opens its eyes and a cartoon bubble displays that says, “Quiet, please!” Since it’s not quite as stimulating as other, similar noise monitors, it may be easier to encourage peacefulness in your classroom with this tool.
There are also a few other options on the site: Breathing Techniques and Brain Breaks. The Brain Breaks are an opportunity for the students to be loud, as they will vote for their choices using noise.
Like the classroom timers and name picker tools I mentioned in my last post, these are all options for keeping things fresh and fun so you can put them in your toolbelt and try them out when you feel the need for something different in your classroom.