Printed from

Attention Signal

This classroom management tool is a signal that teachers use to obtain students’ attention. The Attention Signal allows the teacher to transition from an interactive activity into an activity that requires attention to be focused on the speaker. The Attention Signal includes both verbal and physical components so it can be used at any time from any location.

How to use

1. Identify your signal

Decide on a verbal and physical signal. One common and effective signal is to firmly say, “Give Me Five,” while raising your right hand.

2. Students return your signal

Each student should respond to the Attention Signal by stopping activity, looking at the teacher, and raising one hand in the air or responding in a way the teacher requests.

3. Hold your signal

Hold your hand in position until each student stops activity and directs attention to the speaker.

4. Teach and practice your signal

Make sure that students know the procedure and expectations. Keep practicing until the students become silent and provide their undivided attention every time the signal is used.

When to use

Use the Attention Signal at any time during a lesson to encourage structure and desirable behavior, such as:
• Regrouping the students to focus their attention back on a specific topic
• Making transitions to a new activity or content area
• Giving extra instruction during group assignments
• Providing directions during a large, loud activity, such as a field trip or assembly


Clapping Signal

Use a clapping rhythm that students echo back. This may need to be modeled and practiced a number of times to ensure that students are quickly able to focus and give their attention.


Begin at 5 and count down until arriving at 0. This gives students time to finish or stop what they are doing and focus on the speaker. At zero, all students should form a zero with one hand in the air, be silent, and have their eyes on the speaker. The countdown numbers can be changed, based on how quickly the students’ attention is needed. Intermediate teachers might also count down using fractions or decimals to reinforce and practice math standards.

Printed from