Taking Control Of Your Classroom: Apps For Disruptive Students


Classrooms that have frequent problems with disruptive behavior have been found to have students with less academic engagement and outcomes, and teachers with high levels of stress.

When students are disruptive, teachers must handle them quickly in order to keep them from disturbing other students and keep the learning process going. Some students are intentionally disruptive, wanting to get the teacher’s attention or simply cause trouble. Others, however, simply cannot help being disruptive, turning to acting out or causing a distraction because they are tired, bored or have trouble sitting still. Apps can help teachers control both types of behavior by reminding and encouraging students to pay attention in class.

Controlling Classroom Noise Levels

Talking often gets disruptive students in trouble the most. There’s the innocent student who must whisper to a friend while the teacher is talking and others who feel the need to talk at the highest decibel. A teacher can easily tell these students to quiet down or remind them not to talk, but this takes away from instruction.

Silent Light – Classroom Timer and Decibel Meter, however, lets the teacher go on teaching or working with small groups of students while still keeping noise levels in check. With this app, teachers set the appropriate noise level and reward the class with points for every minute or two they stay on task and keep the noise levels down. Displayed on a screen for the whole class to see, students know that if the traffic light is green, they’re okay, but if it hits orange or red, they need to bring the noise down. Too Noisy works in a similar way, displaying a noise level meter to show students whether the level of noise in the classroom is appropriate.

YouTube Preview Image

Keeping Students Alert

If disruptive students are not being too loud, they may be disruptive in another way; by checking out of the lesson. Teachers need to give students a reason to pay attention to the lesson and be ready to participate at any given moment. With Stick Pick, teachers randomly call on students to answer questions. This encourages students to listen because they never know when the app will choose their name. Apps such as Teacher Tools – Who’s Next and Random Student work in similar ways.

Another part of keeping students alert is giving them subtle reminders about their behavior. This includes regularly reminding them about the classroom rules, keeping a record of their behavior and rewarding them for positive behavior. While some teachers use color cards and behavior charts to accomplish this task, others turn to technology. Class Dojo helps teachers stay on top of student behavior by giving them a way to record positive and negative behaviors in students. Both positive and negative points are awarded and students receive feedback about their behavior. Custom reports also make it easy for teachers to share information on students’ behavior with their parents.

Similar to Class Dojo is Teacher’s Class BEHAVIOR PRO. With this app, teachers set up a class of students and determine which good and bad behaviors to track. As they walk around the classroom and interact with students, teachers can simply tap a button next to a student’s name to record a specific behavior. Daily logs help teachers analyze student behaviors and give them data to use during parent conferences or while talking with administrators.

Modeling Good Behavior

Some students, particularly those with disabilities such as autism, may simply not know how to behave appropriately in the classroom. Apps can help show them how to behave or follow certain routines in the classroom, thereby cutting down on disruptions. Social stories apps such as Pictello or StoryMaker for Social Stories can be used to create custom stories and routines for children to read and follow. Providing students with a clear outline of the steps they need to take during the class period using an app such as First Then Visual Schedule can also keep them on task and prevent disruptions. Behavior Breakthroughs, a simulation app, can also prevent or reduce the amount of disruptions by showing students what their negative behaviors look like and simulating the negative effects of bad behaviors and positive effects of good behaviors.

When it comes to dealing with disruptive students, handling the disruptive behavior immediately is important, but more important is preventing it from happening again. Technology can help teachers encourage students to pay attention in class, stay on task and know what appropriate behaviors look like. As they track student behaviors with technology, teachers may also learn more about what triggers disruptions in the classroom and come up with creative ways to get them to demonstrate positive behaviors in class.