“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.

    • Cheryl Trowbridge September 2, 2012 at 12:57 pm #

      Yay! Let me know how it works for you, Patty!

  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!


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