Chimes for Transitions

Student Contributor: G. Nollmeyer
Chimes can be used as a musical signal for classroom transitions. Because each bar plays a tone, the sound is soothing to student brains. At the same time, the pitches easily cut through classroom noise—facilitating quick, orderly transitions.

You can purchase chimes with a single bar all the way up to ones with five bars. They make very effective transition or attention-getting tools. Bells and other sound-based tools that often get used for attention-getting, do not play musical tones. These sounds can add to the collective din in ways that are harsh on the brain. Even with the chimes, though, teachers should probably play single tones instead of dragging the mallet across all the bars. This is recommended because the bars do not play perfectly tuned chords. I have used the chimes in my classroom as the primary signal for transitions for fifteen years. I have always found it to be a very effective, respectful, simple tool.

I placed the chimes in the Preventative category because that is the best fit. The chimes is a tool you need to set up at the beginning of the year (or whenever you start using it) before it will be effective. Students need to understand the procedure for using it, and they need to buy in to how it will help the class run smoothly before it will be most effective. It relates to the Supportive phase because that is when it actually gets used. But in that way, one might argue that everything in the Preventative phase is also supportive. The relationship the chimes might have to the Corrective phase would be that some of the corrective issues you face could be solved by better teaching or more effective use of the chimes as a transition tool. As a transition tool, the use of the chimes could fit any theory of influence; however, it probably best fits the Student Directed and Collaborative theories. I say this because the purpose in using such a device for transitioning is based on the desire to be respectful of student time and compatible with student brains.

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Tool Source: I got the chimes for transition idea years ago from Susan Kovalik who was a mentor to me early in my teaching career.

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