Here's a simple bulletin--we call them Yellow Slips because they are xeroxed on yellow paper--that you can use to document the students in your room who are off-task because of inappropriate talking. The link at the bottom will enable you to download a PDF version of the blackline master. The master contains four copies of the bulletin.
Just give a Yellow Slip to each of the students who are talking and have them fill out the appropriate information. (Anyone who wants to argue can meet you after class to discuss the issue.)
The real power of this strategy--other than the fact that you are acting on students who engage in social talk and not just talking to everyone about it--is the middle section. This is the place where the student checks off what he should have been doing instead of talking.
By keeping a record of how the social talking in inhibiting learning, you'll be better able to communicate your concerns to the student and, if it should prove necessary, his parents. It's going to be tough for any parent to justify social talking when they see that their son has filled out 10 Yellow Slips with "I was talking to (student's name) instead of working on my assignment." That's a pretty powerful message.
Just click on the image below to download the PDF blackline for making your own Yellow Slips.
Read Chapter 7: ADOPT Your Class in the new book, Eight Great Ideas.