Strategy

Noise Reduction in the Classroom

Noise Reduction in the Classroom refers to any adjustment made to the classroom environment that reduces the amount of noise that is apparent while students learn throughout the school day (e.g., attaching sports balls/latex-free soft tips to chair and desk legs to muffle movement, preferential seating away from distractible noises). Noise Reduction in the Classroom modifies the background noise and reverberations in the classroom to support students that demonstrate difficulty focusing (e.g., attention issues, learning disabilities) or have hearing sensitivities (e.g., students with hearing loss, auditory processing issues, speech and language delays). Applying Noise Reduction in the Classroom also helps students with low-frustration tolerances by fostering an environment where communication can take place.

Implementation Tips

Gauging Classroom Acoustics
Gauge noise levels and learning interferences in the classroom by identifying the amount of background noise (e.g., heating and A/C systems, hallway traffic, outside noises) and reverberation (e.g., high ceilings, large space) that “live” in the classroom, in order to determine needed whole-class accommodations.

Sample Whole-Class Accommodations:
--Turn off equipment during lessons (e.g., heating, A/C systems, other equipment that hisses/rumbles)
--Close the classroom door or windows to prevent outside noise coming into the classroom
--Cover bottoms of chairs, desks, tables, with material to keep them from making noise when moved
--Teach lessons with students sitting in a group (e.g., on the rug vs seated at scattered tables)
IEP Accommodations
Provide noise reduction accommodations (e.g., preferential seating, location with minimal distractions) listed on any individual student’s IEP (Individualized Education Program). Collaborate with service providers (e.g., TOD or Hearing Specialist, SLP) to discuss the student’s specific noise reduction needs.
Introducing Noise Reduction In The Classroom
Talk with students about the accommodations that will be made in the classroom and invite them to help support the reduction of noise (e.g., “Feel free to close the classroom door if the hallway is too noisy.”). For individualized supports (e.g., preferential seating), directly explain how this change will help the student.
Self-Monitoring
Have students monitor noise levels throughout the school day to ensure that the learning environment is optimal. Ask students, “Can everyone hear me?” or use a silent signal before or during lessons (e.g., teacher taps ears twice: students respond with a thumbs-up or thumbs-down) to monitor necessary adjustments.
Supporting Student Management Needs
Create a designated quiet space (e.g., corner of the room, library nook) for students to access during independent work times to reduce noise or distractions of a large setting. Make the quiet space welcoming and functional by placing [[ https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/18/89/23/1889237e9e7d710c92474ed3ac227bd5.jpg | noise absorbing materials ]] (e.g., bookshelves, felt, corkboard, rug) in the area.
Creating a Quiet Environment
Use a visual to help reduce classroom noise (e.g., [[ http://www.fullspectrumlearning.ca/uploads/3/6/3/2/3632607/5113023_orig.jpg | traffic signal ]]: green-noise is optimal, yellow-need to quiet down, red-too loud). If it is too loud, turn off lights to notify students. Apply other noise reducers, such as adding tennis balls/[[ http://www.acousticresources.net/img/qf-thumb.bmp | latex-free soft tips ]] to chair and desk legs, or seating students away from distractors (e.g., hallway, doors, heater/AC, windows).
Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Modifications
Use alternate DIY modifications for class-wide noise reduction strategies, such as using felt or duct tape to cover legs of furniture, or adding soft materials around the classroom to absorb sound and eliminate echoing (e.g., corkboard panels, window curtains).
Using Headphones
Encourage students to self-advocate for a quieter learning environment by allowing students to access soft, ear covering headphones, such as [[ https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61hKbwaPu6L._AC_UL320_SR260,320_.jpg | these ]], from a bin. Explain to students that the purpose of these headphones is to minimize outside noise and that they do not require being “plugged into” anything.

Examples

Preferential Seating
During an instructional lesson, a teacher observes a student sitting in the back of the room having difficulty attending and focusing. The teacher recognizes that the student may not be able to hear and engage from the back of the room due to background noise (e.g., AC is on, another teacher is assessing a student at a table nearby). To reduce distracting noises, the student is offered preferential seating, where they can move to a space up front (e.g., seated away from excess noise, direct view of the teacher’s face) to provide optimal hearing in the classroom environment, increasing the student’s focus and engagement.
Latex-Free Soft Tips
During transition times throughout the school day, a teacher notices that the noise level in the classroom increases significantly, causing a disruption to the learning environment. Some students even express that it is “too loud” and hurts their ears. After assessing the situation, the teacher recognizes that noise from student movement of chairs and desks during these transition times is attributing to the noise level. After speaking to administration about Noise Reduction in the Classroom, the teacher is supplied with [[ http://www.acousticresources.net/img/qf-thumb.bmp | latex-free soft tips ]] to add onto table and chair legs allowing furniture to slide easily across the floor without rubbing or screeching, which minimizes noise and lessens disruptions by creating a quieter classroom.

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