My last post was about kids who answer (nearly) every question with the words, "I don't know."
But what do you do about kids who answer so softly that you can't even hear them?
I have a couple of kids in class who I am constantly urging to speak louder in class. When I call on them, I can see their mouth moving, but even the person next to them can't possibly hear what they are saying. It's even worse when the air conditioning is blowing and making noise. Then, there is NO chance of hearing these kids.
Some of them are kids who just don't like to be called on, but some are kids who always want to be the "teacher of the moment," even asking to be called on to go up to the board to work out a problem.
I have a strict rule in my class that when someone works a problem in front of the class, they are not allowed to just write and DO the problem. They have to explain the steps verbally as they go. In some cases, I have to stop a kid midway through their first step and say, "We can't hear you." Usually, they pause for a heartbeat, then start over AT EXACTLY THE SAME VOLUME LEVEL. So I repeat, "We can't hear you. Please speak louder."
Apparently, they think "louder" means "don't change a thing."
There are some days when I think we could play the game all day long, with me just repeating the same request and them starting the first half of their sentence with no change. Over and over and over.
Even out-of-the-ordinary entreaties often fail to have any effect:
"I've heard you yelling at people out on the playground, so I KNOW you can speak louder!"
"Pretend you're talking to everyone in the whole school!"
"I can't hear you -- I'm OUTSIDE your head!!"
Sure, I could go over and put my ear directly beside each child's mouth as they speak. However, besides not wanting to contract every disease and illness they have, that doesn't solve the problem. The point is not just for ME to be able to hear them, but for the whole class to hear what they are saying.