Teachers invent phone app for silence

By Sonya Bateson

Keeping quiet in the classroom is a rewarding experience for students at Te Akau ki Papamoa.

Teachers Glen and Monique Storey have created an app they are now using in class called Silent Light, which encourages children to self-regulate their noise so their teachers don't have to keep telling them off.

An app, or application, is a software programme that can be downloaded to a smart phone or mobile device such as a tablet.

The app features a traffic light system and monitors sound levels. The teacher sets an appropriate noise level, whether for test conditions, group work or rowdier activities, and if the students keep to the level for a period of time they are given points.

By reaching a set number of points and staying "on task", the class is rewarded with extra activity time, a game, or another reward determined by the teacher. If the noise exceeds the set level, the traffic light will first turn orange then if the noise continues at high levels, turns red.

In the Te Akau ki Papamoa class, the app was displayed on a television on the wall so all the students could see their progress.

Student Alex Dunn, 9, said the app was a good idea because their class was usually noisy and this helped them be quiet.

"We've had it going for a couple of days now and we haven't reset the points. We're trying to get to 100, we've got 74 so far. We've been on task for one hour before, that's our highest yet. Our highest points in one day was 12, our lowest was probably about 4. It's been quieter here since we've had it."

Alex said everyone thought the app was great because of all the effort Mr and Mrs Storey had put in.

Mr Storey said he and his wife had created the app as the students got more one on one learning time when the teachers weren't spending all their time trying to keep the class in order.

With the app, the children became more aware of their noise levels and were encouraged to monitor it themselves. "A lot of teaching we do in little groups of two or three. We didn't want to have to worry about losing the focus of the groups, instead trusting the kids to monitor their own learning."

Mr Storey said having an incentive as well as the audio and visual feedback was powerful. "We've tried it throughout the school and there's been a good response. Instead of the teacher being the dragon, the kids are responsible for their own behaviour."

Mrs Storey said she wanted to design something simple, clean and user friendly. "I wanted it to be visual in a way the kids can relate to. To get to a good idea, we have to make 20 and say no to 19. What I like about this is it takes some of the negativity out of the classroom, you don't have to shush them all the time."

To find out more about the Silent Light app, visit http://topstoreyapps.com/silentlight.

Silent Light

  • The Silent Light app encourages children to keep the noise down in classes.

  • It monitors sound levels then awards points if noise targets are reached.

  • Children are taught how to self-regulate their noise levels.

  • The app was created by Te Akau ki Papamoa teachers Glen and Monique Storey.

  • It will go on sale on July 24 on Apple's AppStore for $4.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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