What's a 12 Inch Whisper?
It's just like it sounds. It's a whisper that travels only 12 inches and it's perfect to teach students in ANY grade level. This is how to introduce it to your students:
First, I say my name with a regular voice. Then, I whisper my name so everyone can hear it.
I tell my students that there are big whispers and little whispers. During quiet work time, big whispers are better than voices, but the best whisper is a 12 inch whisper.
That's when I take out a 12 inch ruler. I tell them that I can make my whisper travel ONLY 12 INCHES! I bring up 3 children and line them up in front of me. The first child should be 12 inches away from me. The 2nd child should be at least two steps behind the first child and the third child should be at least two steps behind the second child so they can't hear your 12 inch whisper. That's when I whisper something to the first child. I make sure the 2nd and 3rd child can't hear me. I ask the first child to tell the class what I said and I point out that the other children could not hear me.
Next, I ask the entire class to tell me their names all at once using a regular voice. I say, "1, 2, 3, tell me your name." When they do, I jump back and cover my ears. I tell them that when everyone talks at once it hurts my ears!
Then, I ask them to whisper their name to a partner and to make sure that their name only goes as far as their partner and not any farther. "OK, 1, 2, 3, whisper your name to your partner now." After they all whisper their name at once, I smile and tell them that they are simply amazing! They were able to ALL communicate at once and it wasn't too loud and it didn't hurt my ears.
Have a few children come up and model saying their name to a partner using a 12 inch whisper. Then, send them to the tables to complete a simple assignment. Remind them that they may communicate as much as they want as long as it's a 12 inch whisper. You circulate throughout the classroom praising the 12 inch whispers you observe students using and reminding the students who are using loud voices to use their 12 inch whisper.
I also like to always carry a scented lip balm. If I observe appropriate behavior (in this case it would be the student using a 12 inch whisper) I apply a dot of scented lip balm on the top of their hand. They LOVE this! (I use this lip balm thing every day for simple things like writing your name on your paper or completing your work. I have them in all sorts of scents.)
Teaching students how to use a 12 inch whisper doesn't mean that your class will always be quiet. There are lots of times that you want students engaging in conversation, using regular voices, and practicing their oral language skills. It does mean that they now have an understanding of the concept of a 12 inch whisper and you can always remind them of this by saying, "12 inch whispers, please," whenever it gets too noisy. I hope this helps! :)