Active Learning & Classroom Noise: “Silent 20”

Published by dienabou on

The term “active learning” refers to a pedagogical model that places students in a more active position in the classroom process vis-à-vis the teacher. Whereas traditional learning models center on listening to the teacher’s lecture and reading school books, innovative learning concepts like active learning focus on completing practical tasks, engaging in peer discussions and playful activities and learning by doing.

Our MOOC “Active Learning and Innovative Teaching in Flexible Learning Spaces” is designed to introduce teachers to this new concept and help them gradually implement more student-centric teaching activities. The course programme shows teachers the steps to convert a traditional and teacher-centred classroom into a flexible environment that enhances student engagement and improves learning outcomes.

As a pedagogical concept, active learning has many benefits. It increases students’ engagement with the material, enhances learning excitement and knowledge retention, and promotes the development of 21st-century skills such as collaboration, debate, effective and respectful communication. But it has one drawback – classroom noise.

As students become more and more active, debate with their peers and cooperate on the realisation of different tasks, the level of noise in the classroom increases. Every teacher has had to deal with students being overly noisy and potentially disturbing their peers from focusing on their tasks. On one hand, it is always rewarding for a teacher to see students excited about their subject and the tasks at hand, but on the other, too noisy classroom environments put stress on teachers’ and students’ mental and physical health. Yet, active learning is the most widely used pedagogical models for teaching 21st-century skills. Its benefits are well-known and proven but we need solution strategies for dealing with the increased noise levels. If you have any experiences with noise in your classroom, you can share them here and join a larger conversation on sound in schools.

One quick trick you could try to quiet down your classroom is to introduce the so-called “Silent 20” practice. At the end of each activity, always ask your students to return to their seats and be silent for 20 seconds. This simple solution will help you return noise and excitement to ground levels and institute a habit in your students to behave properly and raise their own awareness about classroom noise.

What about you? How do you manage to keep your class calm? Share your tips with us and other teachers in the comments section below!

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