Service projects give speech class more meaning
Students are used to having hands-on experiments in their science labs and building all sorts of projects for social studies units.
That personal involvement tends to leave a lasting impression on young people.
Brady teacher Brian Fleming wanted to reach his beginning speech students the same way.
“I didn’t want to do the standard lesson where they research one topic and present a speech,” the first-year teacher said.
So instead of simple research for a persuasive speech, students had to come up with a service project, persuade people to participate and then make a presentation to the class or a broader audience.
One group of four girls started out hoping to send donations to poor regions of Haiti through the “Hope for Haiti” campaign but realized shipping goods overseas is quite expensive.
After working through a list of project possibilities, the girls settled on collecting toys, clothes, diapers and other personal items for foster children in the area.
“We wanted to do something that would help make those kids happy,” said student Jamie Norton. “We want them to know that people care about them, no matter what they’re going through.”
Norton and her teammates Dusk Sabin, Josie Palmer and Autumn Hild organized a collection contest among Brady’s elementary classes.
Each group of donated items was assigned a point equivalent. For instance, a bag of diapers was worth more points than a stuffed animal.
Angela Johnson’s fifth-grade class won an ice cream party by collecting the highest number of points.
The girls were surprised by the response to the contest, especially with the number of donated diapers.
“Diapers are really expensive,” Hild said, “and we got a lot of them.”
Seeing the mound of stuffed plastic bags at the end of the contest made the girls feel good about their chosen project.
“It gives you a sense of accomplishment,” Palmer said.
All of the donated items were given to Nina Fleming, a resource developer who works with foster families through the Department of Health and Human Services.
“It’s so cool to give back,” Sabin said, “knowing that something so small can make a big difference.”
Other speech projects included a collection for St. Jude Hospital in which students and staff voted with monetary donations for one teacher to get a pie in the face.
Another group of students organized a campaign to raise awareness of body image issues and some worked on a presentation about drug and alcohol abuse with resources for help.
“I think it has helped the students learn to be more persuasive because they have had to talk the administration, teachers and other students into becoming involved,” Fleming said. “They’ve also learned that when you run into adversity, you might have to switch directions but you have to work through it.”