Does anyone use silent signals in their classroom? I was watching a video on The Teaching Channel, in which the third grade teacher demonstrates her use of "silent signals." This video got me to thinking about what types of silent signals I have used in the past with my younger students.
One that we used very often was the "silent celebration" - if we were excited about something, instead of cheering and yelling, and disrupting the class next door, we pumped out arms up and down in the air, opened out mouths wide like we were yelling and in some cases, we jumped up and down while doing it. I would preface any big announcement with "Are you ready for a silent celebration?" which told the kids what type of response I was expecting. They all understood, even at their young ages, the importance of not disrupting the class next door. (We had a shared kitchen area so we could always hear back and forth between the classrooms.)
My school taught sign language in a few of the classrooms. It started out with colors, added in the alphabet, and kept going to add other signs down to the toddler level. Silent responses seemed a natural progression.
This short two-minute video shows some easy signs that even our young students can remember:
Silent Signals in the Math Classroom
Other signals I would use are: "thumbs up if you agree" "thumbs down if you have a different answer." I'd have a student come to the white board and solve a problem. If you think they are right or wrong, then you give me the appropriate thumb signal. Sometime I'd break the students into small groups of 2 or 3 students, and work together to sort or pattern on the board. The remaining groups would have to decide all together if the group was right or wrong, and the group would have to give me the thumb symbol.
Another silent signal I'd use is "put your hand on your head when you are done" so I could quietly walk over to the student and check their work. To see if they were paying attention, with my older students (Kindergarten) I'd mix it up and give them a different action. If I didn't mind some disruptions, or to keep things light, I'd make the signal really silly.
Anyone care to share some signals you use?