A room full of quiet students … for many teachers, that’s the perfect classroom. While that might seem like more dream than reality, thankfully lots of classroom noise monitor apps are out there to help you manage.
We’ve chosen three classroom noise monitor tools that teachers can use for free.
How it works: The free browser app Bouncy Balls is a fun tool where students are challenged to balance a bunch of colored balls of different sizes — just through how much noise they’re making in class.
Teachers can adjust the sensitivity level of their computer microphone and even change the total number of balls onscreen (up to 200). This noise meter for classroom computers even comes with different ball themes, like plastic, emoji, bubbles, or eyeballs — a sure crowd-pleaser for younger students.
When students are too loud and the balls jump too high in the air, a warning (which can be turned off) appears across the screen telling students to settle down.
Pros: The app’s fun, silly nature adds some excitement to the classroom and makes it a great fit for younger students.
Cons: Since the balls always jitter onscreen, they can be more distracting than helpful while you’re trying to teach. The novelty of seeing the balls tossing up and down might also wear off on students after a time.
Classcraft Volume Meter
How it works: Classcraft’s Volume Meter enables teachers to manage their classroom by setting a max volume threshold of their choosing. As the class makes noise, a horizontal bar fills up, and volume fluctuates in real time. This lets students see exactly how close they’re getting to the maximum, which the teacher can adjust anytime.
If the noise stays below the limit, students earn “treasure” when the meter is stopped. If students are too loud, they lose their chance at the reward. Teachers can also set a timer if they want the Volume Meter to run for a specific period of time.
Pros: Free to use without a Classcraft account, so no registration is required. Simple and appropriate for all age groups. Comes built-in with a timer and is compatible with Android mobile browsers, as well as most desktop browsers.
Students can also participate in setting the max threshold by “testing out” the volume, which makes classroom management a collective effort and helps teachers choose the max level that’s right for their class. When used with a Premium account, the Volume Meter becomes a part of the larger Classcraft game, which means students can earn real rewards (Experience Points, or XP, and Gold Pieces, or GP) for being quiet or even receive a penalty if the teacher chooses (losing Health Points, or HP). Because this has an impact on their character and their team, the stakes are more meaningful for students.
Cons: Currently does not work on iOS devices.
How it works: Another free classroom noise monitor app is Too Noisy, which offers both a free browser tool and mobile apps for $4. Here, an arrow spins left and right on a dial, similar to a speed meter in a car.
When class volume is low, the arrow stays in the green and yellow range. But when students get too loud, the arrow spikes into oranges and reds, warning students that they’ve hit the max.
Behind the meter is a blue sky with clouds and a happy emoji. When students start to get loud, the sky turns orange, the clouds gray, and the emoji frowns. When the max is reached, the whole sky is dark gray and black, and the emoji becomes a crying face.
Pros: The tool is simple and not too distracting. The shifting colors and changing emojis are an effective visual cue that encourages students to stay in an acceptable range.
Cons: The free version requires teachers to register first. This process spans several steps and screens and is bogged down by video messages that seem excessive given the simplicity of the tool. The cartoonish nature of the app may also seem too “childish” for some students.