Soenksen teaches life skills, communication through DE Speech final project


Mia Constantin

Senior Ayam Ali did her service project to help female students gain more access to free period products.

Unlike other final assessments, Dual Enrollment (DE) Speech, taught by teacher Cathy Soenksen, are doing a school service project as their assessment. Soenksen chose this assessment instead of a traditional end of year exam because she felt the project best represented the real life skills the class taught.

This project is a collaborative one among students in the class and included three components to it: service, research and presentation.

This class, while known as DE Speech, is actually a college-level Intro to Communications course that studies communication theory in all dynamics from intrapersonal to small group to public presentation to mass media. Students do work a great deal on their public speaking, but the truth is that the communication life requires the most, and the communication that is most required in college and career–is small-group collaboration and interpersonal communication in new contexts, like interviewing a stranger,” Soenksen said. “I wanted a final exam that would be comprehensive in nature, giving students an opportunity to incorporate all the different types of communication we discuss and practice. In this project, students have to communicate and negotiate with a classmate or two who partner with them, with a service organization or an adult from whom they need permission to pursue their own idea, with others involved in that work of service as well as those benefiting from it, and finally to the class when they present.”

This project requires students to find a problem, whether it’s in the community or in the nation, and figure out how to solve it using their resources. Students do research on their problem and then communicate with local organizations to start their volunteer service required in the project.

“We spend time in class brainstorming needs within the school or larger community that students care about and discussing which ones students feel they would be interested in knowing more about or working to make a difference in that area. That discussion reveals commonalities among the students and their interests so that partnerships can form,” Soenksen said.

Senior Ayam Ali and Sama Alsindi are part of the DE speech class and have started an initiative to provide period supplies in all of the school female bathrooms.

“For my [service] project me and my partner, Sama, are trying to talk to administrators or anyone in charge, so we can get pads and tampons dispersed into bathrooms. They are already free in the nurse’s office, so we’re thinking [that] instead of having to go to the nurse every single time [you need a pad], to be able to provide them in the bathrooms. So that if there is an emergency they can just get it from the bathroom,” Ali said.

The decision to do this project came from previous frustrations about the extra taxation on period products.

“We decided to do this project because this is a change that we can actually make in this school, and it’s also annoying that pads and tampons have a luxury tax, [which makes them] so expensive,” Ali said. “Since they are already provided for free in the nurse’s office, we might as well just provide them for everyone.”

For now, this will be the final project for the class because of the benefits it includes, to assess students in the class and in the real world.

“The process is grueling, but the end results have always been incredible. I haven’t yet found a better way to assess students on all the different components of communication we study or one that causes students to realize the growth they’ve attained over the course of the year,” Soenksen said.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email