1) when I taught jr. high I would also let them listen to headphones (especially the classes that were more boisterous!) It is amazing what that will do for even the loudest kid. If ipods in class are against school rules, talk to your principal. Mine made an exception for art.
2) Now I teach elementary and while this might not work for your grade level, it might help someone else reading this. This is a multifaceted approach to my classroom management. First of all, I have a "class points" reward. Each class can earn points during work time for entering quietly, working hard, staying at a quiet level, and cleaning up thoroughly. It's very subjective and I give points based on how I just feel they've done. I also utilize the points in order to get them to do things (like bribery! ha!). I'll say, "I'm counting down from 20 to 0 and if the room is spotless, your class will get a point." It's amazing what that will do for them. I also can take points away if they are being really bad (the points are written in dry erase on a laminated paper.) For the points, if the class gets 30 points, they will have a free art period where they can work with modeling clay, read art books, draw, paint or make mixed media sculptures.
They're always bugging me for free art time. Also, the class with the most points at the end of the semester will get an extra special treat (one of my students offered to bake some muffins or cupcakes for the winning class.) There was one older class that was not responding to the points and they were like, "We don't care about the stupid points or the free art time." So, I said, "Well, how about this.. since you have all been bugging me to change the seating chart so it's not boy-girl-boy-girl, if you hit 30 points I will do that and put you by someone of the same gender." That got them motivated to earn points! Another trick I use with this points system is that I put the word "TALK" on the board. If they are getting too rowdy, off task, or loud, I erase a letter. If the class loses all their points, it is silent art time, no talking at all. I also tell the classes that whatever letters are left on the board will transfer into points for their
class. So, that's another easy way to get points. If I had an older class that didn't respond to the reward, I would suggest one of the rewards could be listening to the radio. Also, if it is just one kid being loud, the class will not lose points, but that kid will have to work by his or her self.
If you don't want to do the points thing, another thing that has worked for me is to start off the class with silent art time for about 10 minutes in order to get settled in and focused. If anyone talks that person will need to work by themselves.
> Subject: what do you do about too loud voice level??
> From: MICHELLE MOLNAR <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2008 11:23:05 -0700
> X-Message-Number: 2
> I teaching high school ceramics and have been having
> problems with too loud voice levels during studio time.
> I've been giving the whole class a warning and then if
> the voice level doesn't change, I make it silent time
> the remainder of the period and give detentions to those
> that are talking. However, this isn't working. I still
> have to do this very frequently. Do you have any ideas for
> how to maintain a quiet, workable environment during studio