It can be difficult capturing 4th and 5th graders attention after school when they have just been let out of class and they frantically "need" to discuss what happened that day with a peer. I recently shared a game that we play, Bridge Ball, after school to release some positive energy. We circle up at the beginning of our routine but capturing their attention to tell a couple of announcements and the rules of the game can be a struggle sometimes. Again, we understand, they have a lot of energy but some announcements are in place for their safety and the smoothness of the classroom routine so they get the most out of their day. We began using a timer early on in the school year for the days that they are having a particularly hard time calming down or showing respect to the teacher by being attentive and quiet.
It is very simple but has become extremely effective for our 4th and 5th graders. We inform them that if they can't calm down, we will have to do a Quiet Minute, after which we can say announcements and play the game.
A minute might not seem long but when you have to sit still without uttering a word or a giggle it is an eternity to an elementary age student. If I hear chatter or excessive giggles the timer starts over. They hate that part and encourage their classmates to be quiet because they know they can't play the game until they are ready and respectful. Sometimes just the slight mention that we might have to do the Quiet Minute will get their attention they immediately begin to follow classroom rules.
If they have a question or a remark, hands must be raised and called on before their comment can be acknowledged in the group. We hope we are encouraging in them a respect for one another and their teachers as well.
Quiet Minute was not an easy thing to introduce in the beginning and the students really didn't take it seriously until one day when they lost most of their recreation time due to not being able to control themselves. So if you are an educator hoping to implement this into your classroom remember that it might take a few times before they understand how serious it is that they are listening and being respectful.