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I am not sure when "shushing" became a bad word - but I am proud to be the
stereotype - a shushing librarian -- but, alas, I don't have a bun. I do
have Birkenstocks, however - but not at school...We have to wear black dress

I can't work in confusion and chaos - so I do allow the students to whisper-
and I do mean whisper- but that is it.

And yes, I  have done this in all the libraries in which I have
worked...including when I was a K-3 librarian.

But then, I think the world is too noisy....I am one of those vocal people
that refuses to eat in restaurants that are noisy, etc. One of the major
reasons I don't go to movie theatres is the noise level (the other is there
is nothing I want to see). I did go see "Narnia" during ALA in San Antonio -
and that will be it for 2006...thankfully, the noise level of the film
wasn't set at race-car level.

Excuse me - while I go shush some students.

Dr. Allan O'Grady Cuseo (Brother Donogh Allan, MGC)
Bishop Kearney High School Library
125 Kings Highway South
Rochester, New York 14617

585-342 - 4000 x231
585-342 - 4694  (FAX)

Education in the tradition of the Christian Brothers and the School Sisters
of Notre Dame
FAC OMNIA BENE (Do all things well)

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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Anne Timbs" <timbsa@K12TN.NET>
Sent: Tuesday, April 25, 2006 1:55 PM
Subject: [LM_NET] Hit: noise level

Here is my original post:
I'm in a PreK-6 school and I have a problem with the noise level in my
library.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not one of those shushing librarians who
won't let anyone talk.  I don't have a problem with people talking in the
library, but my students don't know the limits.  They get extremely noisy
and go as far as yelling at their friends across the room.  My library is
very well-lit and has high ceilings.  It is a large room and they tend to
run from one end to the other even though I've strategically placed
furniture so they can't move in a straight line. When I have classes I put
out magazines and use whisper phones.  I use incentives and discipline to
get them to be quiet, but I'm at my wits end.  They talk in very loud voices
so that those trying to read can't.  I've even considered purchasing a
Yacker Tracker. Does anyone out there have one?
I would appreciate any suggestions. Help!

And here are the many responses I got:

 work in a 6-8 school and I bought a Yacker Tracker over the summer.  I
don't use the audible signal, just the lights.  My kids, as old as they are,
do respond pretty well to it.  I really like that the booklet gives you the
suggested decibel range for the size of your room, etc.

Another thing I did when I was in a K-5 school and provided a prep for the
teachers, was to buy a bunch of large plastic cups in a bright orange color.
If we were doing seatwork, I would put one of these cups on a table that
wasn't working quietly enough.  This served as a visual reminder that they
needed to quiet down a bit.  When the behavior improved, I'd remove the cup.
Like you, I am not the SHUSHING TYPE !!!  My own voice during presentations
tends to make the Yacker Tracker flash orange.

Hi Anne.  I'm at a high school this year, but the previous two years I was
at an elementary library.  I had times when classes would be noisy, too, and
it can be frustrating to figure out how to fix it.  Here are some different
things I did that worked pretty good.

When the kids came in, I sat chose who got to sit at what table.  Then, I
said I would pick the quietest table to get up first to get their books.
Then the next, etc.  If a student was running or noisy when getting books,
they had to sit down.  They either had to wait until others were finished,
or if they couldn't be good, they just didn't get another chance that day.
I also (with really difficult classes) made students who just couldn't
behave go sit off by themselves, either for five minutes (if they could come
back and be good) or longer if they kept misbehaving.

No advice, unfortunately, just empathy!  I have a high ceiling with a
skylight - let's just say that the first time our music teacher walked
in, she said "Oh!  What a wonderful place to have a concert - the
acoustics are perfect!"  She's right - they are.  That skylight
amplifies everything - you can literally hear a pin drop if you're in
just the right location.  (My aide and I tried it once.) As for moving
furniture - well, evidently it's even more fun to run an obstacle course
than a straight line.  I just keep reminding them that they're in the
library, not the gym or the playground, and if individual kids simply
can't remember I have them sit at a table with their book for the rest
of their session.  Sorry not to be more helpful - please let me know if
anyone has a magic bullet!

I know an art teacher who uses a Yacker Tracker and it was a success.
I also have a large library with high ceilings. To make things worse, the
ceiling is metal so sounds/voices/noise can be really intense! To deal with
this, I use positive reinforcement/competition and it has worked very well.
To do this, I bought a pack of foam sheets and cut them to bookmark size.
Then I punch a hole in the top, add a length of ribbon. Each child get one.
Then I have a lesson on good library skills (behavior is not mentioned). We
talk about walking quietly, using library voices, etc. Then when I see good
library skills, I give a pony bead (small platic beads that come 1000 for
about $1.99) that students can add to their ribbon. The students compete
with each other to get the most beads and design the best bookmark.
This may not work for you, but maybe you can use some other form of positive
reinforcement (stickers, etc.) to get the students to be a bit quieter. Good
luck! If you get any good suggestions, post a hit.

I take away privileges for such behavior -- can't get a book, can't come
back to library for a # of days.  I also reward acceptable noise with
bookmarks and stickers.

I am in a PK-5 school and one thing I do is use a number system for the
appropriate voice level.  #1 is normal voice ; #2 is whisper ; #3 is no
talking.  I explain this at the beginning of school and remind them
throughout the year.  I explain to them what level voice they should use for
each activity.  Entering and leaving the room is #3.  Looking for books is
#2.  Working with partner is #2.  The only time for #1 is when they are
asking or answering a question during class discussion.

I raise my hand with 3 fingers up when I need them to immediately be quiet.
They are to stop what they are doing, look at me and listen (without
talking).  I also have them raise their hands with three fingers up in case
someone can't see me.

We practice this procedure several times at the beginning of the year and
throughout the year as needed.

Before I let them up to checkout I would give them this information.

Because you will not monitor yourselves you have placed me in that
position.  This is the class's warning.  If I have to remind ANYBODY
they are too loud or exhibiting inappropriate behavior, the WHOLE class
will sit down until they are totally quiet for 3 minutes (longer or
shorter depending on the age of the group).   Then you will allow them
up to try again.  If this causes them to not have enough time to select
a book, you are sorry, but it is up to the class to behave properly in a
library and if they show you they can't do it, then they will have to
sit.  If they can't even sit quietly, then the next time their class is
scheduled to come to the library, you will be coming to their classroom
where they will sit quietly for the time period you gave them.  Upon
arrival in the library, they will be given a chance to exhibit proper
behavior.  If they again force you into the position of policing
behavior, you will take the group back to the classroom where they will
practice being quiet for the rest of the class.

Really Good stuff has a noise level chart but that's only good if you can
get to it and they look at it.  I use the old lights out method too, not
that it always works.  I have also collaborated with the teachers to remove
recess time for excessive noise - this works well if weather is fine.

I have found that if I play music during the library time, (I use classics
for kids, guitar for kids, etc.), after I have read the story and or done
our lesson, that things are a bit calmer.  The kids have to be able to hear
the music at all times so their voices have to be quiter and calmer. It's
working for me, and the kids are really enjoying the music.

I am in two is K-2 (North), the other 3-5 (South).  North
School library is classroom sized and has a door that closes.  Noise is
never a problem there.  The library at South (3-5) is totally open and sound
carries everywhere.  The third graders...every year...are my problem.  Noise
levels of third graders drive me nuts...and the noise doesn't make the
classroom teachers in that end very happy either.  Both of my school
lunchrooms have yakker tracker and they don't seem effective.  What I am
going to try next year is something called "the attention getter".  I found
this in the Library Store catalog.  I believe it costs $22.  It is a
stopwatch/timer that you can set or ring...but it has tones that include a
rooster and some others.  My idea is to "ring" it if noise levels are too
high.  I also plan to use it when it is time for library to end so that
stragglers can hurry up and check out.  I am hoping that this will help with
my third grade noise problem.

This is the url for the thing I ordered:

Anne: Just curious---what is a whisper phone?
If my students do not use their "library voices," which we discuss at the
beginning of each year, they receive 1 warning, then :  lose check-out
privileges  or are sent back to class! This is a team effort with me and the
classroom teacher. Just as in the classroom there are consequences for "poor
choices," there are also consequences in the library classroom for "poor
choices." I discuss all this at the beginning of each year and post "Library
Expectations"  right by the Library door.
So far, it works pretty well, because most of the students love coming to
the library.

Okay, I must know, what is a Yacker Tracker?  I'm sure I could use one.
Your situation sounds very similar to mine with the exception that we are in
a smaller library and EVERYONE hears the noise they make.  I am in my first
year and my biggest struggle has been discipline and control.  I would love
a HIT on any suggestions you receive.  Thanks!

I, too, have a large space that invites loud voices and running.  I really
don't have too many problems though after 9 years in this space.  First let
me say our program is flexible and I don't provide any planning time for
teachers, however I don't have an assistant and very few volunteers.  Many
times it's just me with students here to check out books.  I use my
proximity most of the time to help student keep their own self-control.  I
know which classes are most rowdy.  When they are in the library I make sure
I am "shelving" and close to them circulating among the students.  When I
look up and see 8 students from different grades and classes browsing, but
getting louder and louder I move to their area, talk with them about books
or something to keep them on task.

That said, I have set the expectation of quiet, inside behavior.  I meet
classes at the entrance and direct our beginning activity BEFORE they have a
chance to ramp up.  I have "note days" sometimes when the school energy just
gets too high (10 days in a row of inside recess.)  I put up a sign and it's
Note Day in the Library.  There is no speaking.  Have a question?  Write it
down, and I will write the answer.

I have a great deal of success with the 2nd grade and under groups with a
game I call the Library Quiet Game. I give each child a clothes pin that I
clip to their collar or sleeve. The point of the game is that they try to
keep their clip until they are lined up and ready to go. Everyone who still
has their clip at that time wins a prize. (I usually do VERY simple prizes -
erasers, stickers, once in while pencils.) They are told that if they are
not using their library voices they will lose their clip. Only me or their
teacher can take their clip and they are not to play with them or touch
anyone else's clip. The kids often ask to play the library quiet game and I
think the pins serve as a good reminder to use their library voices. The
first time I played this game at my present school, the teachers were
astounded at how effective it was. A word of caution, however, if you play
it too often it can lose its effectiveness.

I do not have a Yacker Tracker but here is another suggestion.  At the
beginning of the year when I go over the general library rules I discuss
the appropriate noise level for a library.  I ask them to demonstrate a
library level, then a playground level, then a library level again.  I
repeat this each week for the first month so they will know what I expect.
 I lavish on the praise and rewards for those who comply and try to ignore
those who don't.  I review this after every break.  It has worked better
than anything else I've tried.

The only successful classroom management technique I could employ to ensure
a quiet (not silent) was to put them all in the same boat.  I didn't try to
find the perpetrator, I just said if it became too noisy, all would have to
return to study hall.  I did it once, and after that their friends kept them

I hear you loud and clear : and the classes are going down: now it's 3nd and
2nd getting loud but NOTHING like 5th and 6th. We use the sign language of :
ZIP (show zipping your mouth), LOOK, (show fingers pointed to eyes) and
LISTEN: put L (finger shape_ by ears. Sometimes Ihave to blow my whistle
first and then SHOW them the signs AGAIN. Sometimes I have them repeat to works, sometimes and sometimes they go back and we repeat. Don't
you just love the end of the year????

And in response to some of those responses:
A whisper phone is: or (I
have these, you can make them yourself)
A Yacker Tracker is:

Thanks for all the responses.  I'm still deciding what to do.
Anne M. Timbs
Library Media Specialist
Roan Creek Elementary
Mountain City, TN

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