Friday, January 30, 2009

For Whom the Bell Tinkles

As the children have been revising and editing their small moment stories this week, it seems like the volume level in the room has been rising. A lot is excitement over their stories, but there is also some off-topic chatter and unasked-for advice escalating the noise level. So I pulled out a small brass bell that a student gave me years ago and gently rang it in the middle of Workshop. Everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at me. "Writers," I said calmly, "I am happy that you are so excited about your work, but the noise level is making it hard for some of your fellow writers to concentrate." Several students nodded their heads at this. I explained that I had used the bell because I did not want to raise my voice to add to the noise, so I used the bell to get their attention. Then I went on to request that we remember how quiet the room gets when everyone is busy with their writing and that we work to find that quiet, busy space again. They all went back to work and I noticed that most used whispers when they needed to confer with their writing partners. Quiet was restored, at least for the time being.

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