I have explained to them about right brain and left brain activity. Left for language and math and right for creativity. I tell them they need to work in the right brain "zone". This is for HS students but once they get there the room is so quiet I sometimes have to play quiet music just so my shuffling papers and comments to students around the room as I cruise is not a distraction.
The latin teacher here lent me a Reiki CD and the kids actually like it! Need to get more of those. Some days are a little more energetic like Stevie Ray Vaughn or The Doors or even Bob Marley on Fridays, they sit , they work and sometimes nod with the music.
This may work for other grades too.
From: Marvin Bartel [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2004 2:12 AM
To: ArtsEdNet Talk
Subject: Re: Help Getting large classes quiet
Some teachers start the class on automatic quiet. Students get printed instructions,.or the instructions are on the board, and they are asked to get busy - not noisy. Some teachers use a beginning ritual waiting for them to begin working on. The teacher instructions start after they are settled and working. This site has more information.
I know one art teacher that uses as red flashing strobe to alert the class that he needs them quiet.