Mona! Lisa!” Attention Signal

Mona Lisa Print on a White Board TrayI’m excited to share the best class­room man­age­ment tech­nique I’ve tried in years.… the “Mona! Lisa!” atten­tion sig­nal.  I used this new tech­nique in all my K-8 classes this week, and it was even more suc­cess­ful than I had hoped for!

Kudos go to Tri­cia Fuglestad of Dry­den Art Fugle­blog for shar­ing this fan­tas­tic idea, which she learned from Scott Rus­sell.  It’s a sim­ple call and response.… you say, “Mona!” and your stu­dents respond with “Lisa!”, and show you their best Mona Lisa pose: eyes on the teacher, mouths quiet, and hands still.  (Yes, “mouths quiet”.… it really works — woo hoo!!!)

I announced to each of my classes that the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo Da Vinci, would be our class mas­cot this year.  I have a small Mona Lisa print mounted on card­board which I placed on the white board tray.  After prac­tic­ing our best Mona Lisa poses, we ran through the “Mona! Lisa!” call and response.

Then we prac­ticed.  Through­out our class time, when­ever stu­dents got a lit­tle too loud, or I needed to get their atten­tion to give more instruc­tions, I used the “Mona! Lisa!” atten­tion sig­nal.  Some­times I had to repeat “Mona!” a few times until I had everyone’s atten­tion, but it got bet­ter the more we prac­ticed.  In the past, I tried every­thing from flick­ing the lights, to count­ing down from five, to clap­ping rhythms, to using chimes. But none of those tech­niques even came close to “Mona! Lisa!” for quickly get­ting stu­dents’ atten­tion.  It was so easy — remark­able, really, in how well it worked.

Check out the Dry­den Art Fugle­blog for a down­load­able “How to be Mona-ificient” poster as well as a great poster for “Art Room Voice Lev­els”.  And be sure to fol­low this cre­ative blog if you use an iPad or other tech­nol­ogy in your Art Room.… tons of inno­v­a­tive ideas here!

What’s your favorite class­room man­age­ment technique?



24 Responses to Mona! Lisa!” Attention Signal

  1. Stephanie September 2, 2012 at 1:08 am #

    I love this idea! I just added the Art Room Noise Lev­els to my class­room this year, and I’ve started using the phrase “Mona Lisa quiet,” but the call/response and the eyes, mouth, hands is PERFECT! Will be start­ing it this week!
    Stephanie recently posted..For the love of art…My Profile

    • Cheryl Trowbridge September 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

      Yes — it’s amaz­ing how they actu­ally seem to ENJOY qui­et­ing down when we do this! It’s been like a mir­a­cle this last week with my chatty students!!

  2. Mrs.C September 2, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    I love the Mona Lisa cue! I started using it last Feb when my stu­dents started to get all wonky and squirmy and were not focus­ing! It works like a dream! :)

  3. Melanie September 2, 2012 at 5:54 am #

    This is my first year teach­ing art and I am so glad I came upon that idea (found it on Scott Russell’s TPT — made my own poster as well). It really does work well! And some­times I will even sing the “Mona” or say “Mona Mona Mona” and they will say “Lisa Lisa Lisa!” They love it and it works!

  4. Patty Palmer September 2, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    This sounds excel­lent!!!! I’m going to try it.

  5. Scott Russell September 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Wow! Thanks so much for the men­tion Cheryl!! This funny lit­tle class­room man­age­ment idea has made me known world­wide! I got rec­og­nized in New York at the NAEA Con­ven­tion amongst 7000 art teach­ers but 5 dif­fer­ent peo­ple who found my dig­i­ca­tion and pin­ter­est site with my Mona Lisa poster! It’s so much fun hear­ing how this has helped so many art teachers!

    • Cheryl Trowbridge September 4, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      You’re wel­come, Scott! How cool that you were rec­og­nized at NAEA for this! It’s such a fan­tas­tic idea and I’m glad I could help spread the word! My stu­dents are actu­ally enjoy­ing qui­et­ing down as quickly as they can now when I say, “Mona!” What used to be a bat­tle has now become a fun lit­tle game with them. It’s amaz­ing! I’ve made Mona our Art class “mas­cot” and every week I’m shar­ing a new bit of “Mona trivia” with them.… so fun. So, thank YOU!! I think you should have won a trip to Hawaii or some­thing for this idea… it’s that good!! :-)

  6. Rachel Dillon September 3, 2012 at 10:45 pm #

    Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I stum­bled upon your blog entry. I’m in week three of my first ele­men­tary art teach­ing job and class­room man­age­ment is so chal­leng­ing. I’ll try this tech­nique tomor­row. It’s hard to teach art when nobody listens.

    Thanks, Rachel Dillon

  7. A.S. September 4, 2012 at 6:25 am #

    Never heard about it. But I will try it. The idea about body lan­guage is a really good one. Thank you!
    A.S. recently posted..Paper­girl HannoverMy Profile

  8. Gina September 4, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    I’ve been fol­low­ing your blog for some time now. I LOVE all of your ideas. Thanks for inspir­ing my kids to do art!!

    You won an award on my blog, Birth Mother Bas­kets.


  9. Nancy Scoble, Washington, NC September 4, 2012 at 11:18 am #

    I shared with the stu­dents the impor­tance of stand­ing, back­ing away from their work, aka a reported John Singer Sar­gent tech­nique. Now the stu­dents exclaim, “I’m doing a John Singer!” when review­ing their work. (There is a rea­son to be out of the seat.)

    • Cheryl Trowbridge September 4, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

      Great idea, Nancy! I’ll have to try that one — thanks!!

  10. Scott Russell September 4, 2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Wow thanks so much for the link back! I’m so glad so many peo­ple have found the Mona Lisa call/response help­ful! My classes love it and its been so much fun to hear from so many art teach­ers how it has helped them!

  11. Chris McGlumphy September 7, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

    I tried the Mona Lisa tech­nique with fifth graders and I am impressed. It is easy to learn and to imple­ment. Thank you so much for shar­ing such a great idea!

  12. Rina September 9, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

    Thanks so much for post­ing this. I start teach­ing tomor­row and hastily added the Mona Lisa prompt to my intro powerpoint.

    • Rina September 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm #

      update: I taught the Mona! Lisa! call-response to 17 classes in grades K-6 and the kids uni­ver­ally loved it. Thanks for posting.

      • Cheryl Trowbridge September 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

        So glad that’s work­ing for you, Rina! I’ve been using it in every class and it’s like a mir­a­cle each time… I only wish I knew about it 10 years ago!! (Don’t the kids look so cute in their “Mona Lisa” poses??!)

  13. lori September 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    tried it .. lov­ing it!!!
    lori recently posted..Self Esteem PortraitsMy Profile

  14. Rachel Dillon September 25, 2012 at 11:38 am #

    It totally works! Thanks so much!

  15. laura minala November 24, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    amaz­ing up until now it was the ”please be quiet class” man…you’re amazing!

  16. Meche Farah September 8, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    I started using the Mona Lisa sig­nal this year and it’s work­ing well! I say Mona Lisa, stu­dents reply “man­ners!” then fall silent. Amaz­ing! I’m in an inner city school and for more spir­ited groups I use mag­netic let­ters on the board that spell A-R-T, which is 2 warn­ings and if we make it to “A” they know it’s going to be heads down. =)

    • Cheryl Trowbridge September 9, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Yes, it’s amaz­ing how well the Mona Lisa sig­nal works! And the best part is that it KEEPS work­ing. I’ve watched stu­dents grad­u­ally become “immune” to other quiet sig­nals, but they seem to actu­ally enjoy this one!


  1. Mona Lisa - Fact or Fiction? 50 Fantastic Things to Know! | TeachKidsArt - February 4, 2015

    […] was inspired (and quite frankly, amazed) by how well my stu­dents responded to Scott Russell’s “Mona! Lisa!” Call & Response Atten­tion Sig­nal…. it worked like magic every time, with every class. So, I decided to run with this and […]

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