Saturday, October 5, 2013

Silent Light Decibel Meter

With the excitement of science experiments combined with amplified sound due to my lack of carpet, there are many days when the Science Lab is a very loud room. On most days, I don't mind, so long as students are talking about what we're doing.

I did have one particular grade level that was much louder than the others, though. Instead of talking in a normal voice, it seemed that they all wanted to YELL as loudly as possible during their entire hour with me. It was frustrating, and it gave me a headache. :(

One day, my Apps Gone Free app alerted me to a little gem called Silent Light. I downloaded it but didn't know if I would use it or not. The next week, my little friends were excruciatingly loud again, and I decided to give Silent Light a try. 

For whatever reason, all of the students I've used it with have loved it. They're amazing when Silent Light is turned on because they view it as a game!

Silent Light app icon, courtesy of the App Store
When you open Silent Light, you see this screen:

You can tap the "We are learning to" board to write your objective if you want. ...Or you can tap the double bars on the left side of the board and slide it to the right to make it disappear completely:

Click the gear on the top right to adjust volume level and points:

Slide the gray button around each red circle to adjust. I love that this app doesn't adjust decibel sensitivity by percentage or decibel numbers; instead, it gives you a description of how that level is going to sound when it's just right. You can adjust anywhere from "hear a pin drop" to "an international airport." You can also adjust the intervals in which the app will give "points." {I'll explain those in a second.}

After you've configured your settings, you'll want to reset the timer and point counter by clicking both the green and the red circles. Clicking the circle with the arrow will reset both. You can pause the "on task time" button or stop it completely. {I usually pause when I'm giving directions.}

At this point, I connect my device to my Promethean board so it will display where every student can see and hear it. You don't have to do this step, but I think it helps keep students aware.

The decibel meter starts working immediately. As long as the students are within the specified decibel range, the light stays green, and the "on task time" keeps ticking. I award students with a point every 5 minutes, and I hope to extend that as the year goes on. {Every time the class earns a Silent Light point, I give everyone a Class Dojo point. Huge motivator!}

If the noise level gets too loud, the light will turn orange {I'm sure it's supposed to be yellow, but it definitely looks orange in my room.} and the "on task time" circle will turn red and say, "off task time." I love that it also counts time "off task," although I wish it would describe it differently. I don't necessarily think that students who are being loud are off task, but that's a post for another day. :)

A quiet "ding" lets students know when the stop light is switching levels. I was absolutely amazed at how aware they were of the sound. I also love that there's a little peer pressure... the few who were struggling to be as self-aware of their volume as others were definitely shushed by the others who wanted Dojo points. ;)

I have no idea what happens when the volume gets so loud that the light turns red. I have a little friend who keeps volunteering to scream for me to "test it out," but I keep politely declining. ;)

I think this app is phenomenal for teaching students to be more self-aware of their volume!

Silent Light is $3.99 in the App Store, but if you watch Apps Gone Free carefully, you may be able to snag it for free sometime, too.

CISD friends: here's a tutorial for you. 

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