Hallway Noise

The students are very excited about maps and using them to explore our community. On Friday morning, they quickly congregated around the paper maps, Google Earth on the iPads, and Google Maps on the computers to start checking out favourite locations and directions to different places. There were lots of great conversations all captured in our Daily Shoot Blog Post.  While students were pointing out lots of landmarks in the community, they were not consistently using directional language to explain how to get from one place to another. Why? Meeting back with the class as a group helped me figure out the problem: many of them were confusing left and right. I taught the children the little hand trick to help them with this (an “L” versus a “backwards L”), but then I wanted them to apply what they learned. We decided to go on a quick walk through the school in search of different locations (e.g., the library, the gym, the office), while also looking at the locations of various landmarks along the way. Students know that I struggle with directions, so I often ask for help, and today they were going to help me out. They were so excited! I grabbed the iPad, and they directed me around the school.

The only problem? It was loud! I tried to encourage whisper voices, but the students were thrilled to show me around, and that excitement resulted in some noise. You can hear me shushing constantly — way more than I wanted — but as we were walking, all I could think about was that teachers were going to start to close their doors. We were interrupting classes. People were going to be mad at us. We passed the first door with our loud voices, and as you can hear in the video below, a teacher did come out, but she wasn’t mad. She wanted to know more about what we were doing, and in fact, even spoke to me later about how engaged the children sounded. 

I think that we always need to be respectful of learning that’s happening, but for my class on Friday, that learning was happening in the hallway. Students weren’t yelling to be disruptive: their discussions were on-task, and they were all actively involved in the activity. Their words were also the perfect diagnostic assessment on directional language and landmark identification.  

  • Maybe I needed to worry less about the noise.
  • Maybe I didn’t need to view doors closing as a bad thing, but as an option that classes could use to reduce the noise if necessary.
  • Maybe if we take our learning to the hallway sometimes, we’ll learn about new approaches from each other, and this learning will impact on our teaching practices as well as benefit our students.

I don’t think we want to encourage students to scream in the halls or have loud personal discussions when other students are learning, but maybe we need to reconsider “learning space.” How can we help students learn during “travel time?” Is it okay to sometimes make a little noise? What do you think? I know that my pointing option helped stop the noise, but it also stopped what I was learning about student needs. I didn’t gain as much information from a finger as I did from a conversation. I wish I could go back and tell my class that the talking time was okay. I think that if I had the choice, I would do just that.


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