(If you are wondering why this post is numbered 4/100, it is because I have challenged myself to post at least 100 posts in 2016!)
The “noise” might be perfectly legit in the circumstances; 30 children all working in groups to compose a rondo using school percussion is going to have a serious decibel overload. But half a class fidgeting, tapping their djembes and chatting instead of listening quietly is not legit. Under any circumstances.
My current method is this;
I quietly, without saying anything, hold up both my hands with fingers down, and, starting with a little finger (to avoid any unfortunate gestures which would only cause more chaos instead of settling the class) silently start counting seconds. If it is taking more than ten seconds, I just close my fingers again and start again. Some children will copy me, with a mystified expression on their faces. I give them a sweet smile of approval. Once quiet has happened, I say “Thank you. But fifteen (or whatever) seconds is rather a long time?” and continue the lesson.
The next time, I repeat the procedure. Soon enough, I hear children whispering “sh, look, she’s counting” and, for some reason they quickly stop talking. I just let them know how long it took, and congratulate them for being so much quicker (because, generally, they are!).
This has worked all week in a number of classes ranging from year 3 to year 6. I don’t know how long it will continue to be effective…