Noisy classrooms aren't just irritating, they're also downright detrimental to learning. Reducing classroom noise isn't just vital to enhancing the learning of hearing-impaired students, it also protects teacher vocal cords and improves learning for all students. The Acoustical Society of America estimates that a student with typical hearing often misses one out of every four words. So reducing the noise is worth the effort.

Think before you build. If your school is undergoing renovation, it may be possible to make some essential changes. Make sure windows fit tightly and are heavy. Also, replacing a typical HVAC air duct with a fiberglass duct can reduce background sound.

Look up. Ceiling tiles can reverberate sound. Search for tiles that are more acoustic-friendly. A low ceiling also helps. Consider replacing those humming fluorescent lights as well. A more ecofriendly choice might even save your school money in energy bills.

Fix the floor. Replace hard tile with a more sound-absorbing material. If you can't replace the tile, cover it with a hypoallergenic carpet. Make sure you have staff who can keep this rug clean. A dusty rug may reduce sound, but it will irritate asthma and other allergies. Kids can't focus if they can't breathe.

Stick tennis balls on the feet of tables, desks, and chairs. This will make them slide more easily and quietly.

Make small changes around the room. Add curtains to the windows. Use cork bulletin boards, or hang interesting tapestries or fabrics on the walls. Use bean bags in learning centers. Keep doors and windows closed to reduce outside noise, and if necessary, attach a rubber strip to your door.