8 reasons why 'too noisy pro' is an essential app for teachers
Apps can work their way in to almost every aspect of teaching and learning. Including behaviour management. Some schools use apps to monitor behaviour. Some use apps to reward good behaviour. There are a few apps that can actively discourage bad behaviour before it has even happened. There are even a few apps that can help to control negative behaviour when it is happening. Amazingly, Too Noisy Pro can do all of the above.
Too Noisy Pro is an app that uses the microphone of the iPad to pick up noise and display the sound on a dial. If the children become ‘Too Noisy’ the dial will be pushed in to the red and an alarm sounds. It doesn’t sound that intriguing at first (no pun intended). However, the wider features within the app make Too Noisy Pro extremely useful in a number of different ways. Below are just eight reasons why I think that it is an essential app for any iPadding teacher…
1) Star Awards
Built in to the app is a ‘star awards’ system. Essentially, the app uses a timer and can reward a class for staying quiet over pre-determined lengths of time. For example, a teacher can set up a ‘star’ to appear every minute on the app. If the class push the dial into the red, they will loose one of their star awards. If the children don’t set the alarm off over a ten minute period they will achieve ten star awards and will be rewarded visually on the app. The time parameters are completely customisable. The real power of this app is reliant on the weight a teacher attaches to the ‘star awards’. If you attach the app to established and meaningful behaviour management systems then you are away! It’s worth mentioning that you can take away ‘stars’ manually. Unfortunately, children can still be naughty without being loud.
2) Time keeping
The side effect of the ‘timed star awards’ is that it can help a teacher keep a track of the time in a very visual way. This could be a feature that helps in one lesson, a morning or an afternoon. It could even help a teacher to keep time through out an entire school day. You could set each star award to be given every ten minutes or so. During break time or while the teacher is talking, the app can be paused. Therefore, you could cleverly time it so that the app is used throughout the day and that the children will reach the full ten star awards during the last remaining minutes of the final lesson.
A teacher has complete control over the sensitivity of the app. Within the settings, you can choose from four preset sensitivity levels (silent, quiet, group and class). This will ultimately determine how much noise is needed to push the dial into the red. This flexibility means that the app can be used in a number of different learning contexts. If you are running an activity where you are happy for the children to talk to one and other, then choosing ‘group’ might be a better option, keeping the noise at an acceptable volume. Alternatively, choosing ‘silent’ is a better option if you are running a silent reading activity etc. You can even edit the presets to make completely custom sensitivity levels.
4) Mobile Noise Monitor
The fact that the app sits on an iPad makes a big difference. Instantly, your noise monitoring device becomes mobile. That means that you can sit the iPad on your noisy table or next to your noisy child. In this scenario, you would then simply keep an eye on the star awards throughout a lesson. Alternatively, if you are able to display the iPad up on the board, through wireless mirroring, it’s then easy to keep track of the star award progress. The children can also monitor their own volumes if you are able to display the app up on the board. This can be very effective.
5) Asking for more noise
Following on from my last point regarding the mobility of the app and it’s ‘self monitoring’ capability, Too Noisy can become very useful in a way that the app developers may not have intended. For example, it could be moved into the school hall and be used to encourage projection. Some children simply do not speak loud enough during school plays, nativities or class assemblies. Using the app to display their volumes can help to rectify this problem. A teacher could place the iPad at the back of the room, project the ‘Too Noisy’ dial on a screen and encourage the children to set the thing off! This visual aid to an entirely audible problem might just be the missing ingredient that makes the choir sing louder or gets the Inn Keeper to say his lines at a volume that everyone can hear in the back row.
6) Changing the Alarm
You may be thinking that the alarm might be too abrasive for your children. In the scenario of using the app to encourage volume, the alarm becomes counter intuitive. Happily, you also have control over the alarm sound. There are a number of preset alarms to choose from. However, one of my favourite things within Too Noisy is the ability to record your own alarms. Imagine how much fun you can have with that! The nice thing about this feature is that you can incorporate existing noise related management within the app. For example, your alarm could be a rhythmic clap or an instrument that you use already to grab the class’ attention. It could just be a recording of your voice telling the children off.
7) Changing the look
Along with being able to change the alarm, you can also change the look of the app. Background themes and dial themes can be edited. This seemingly small function makes a big difference when it comes to using the app in the classroom. A teacher is able to make the app look new from time to time. This will keep the children interested in the app. You can even make the app seasonal. Christmas, Halloween and Easter backgrounds can make the app relevant throughout the school year. Being able to change the look of the app can also make ‘Too Noisy’ adapt according to the age of a class. Younger children will favour the cartoony looking backgrounds and dials. For older children, a slicker, more futuristic background and dial is more appropriate.
8) Long-term Behaviour Monitoring
With a little bit of leg work, the app can help a teacher to monitor behaviour over an entire term. Every time a teacher uses Too Noisy, they can save the star award total by sharing a certificate with the children and/or themselves via email. This is a simple way of keeping track of the classes progression throughout the school year. Being able to share this information with the children could mean that you are putting some of the behaviour management responsibilities in their court. Going even further than this, a teacher could share ongoing behaviour data with the parents straight out of the app. Again, this could become a powerful tool and could help a teacher to connect with the parents in a non-abrasive manner.
To be completely honest with you, the response has been different every time I have used this app with Primary School children. Some respond by developing coughs as they like to set the dial going. Others, become obsessed with setting the alarm off. However, the large majority of children have responded very positively to it. When the app is introduced correctly and enough weight is attached to the star awards the children will begin to control their own volumes as soon as they see the app being opened. It can be an effective tool. The level at which you embrace the tool is up to you.