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The Changemaker Wax Museum
from Bridge Magazine, Spring 2023 Edition

Grade 4 students come to life in this authentic, interdisciplinary learning experience.

Grade 4 Students Come to Life with the Changemaker Wax Museum

Collingwood is well-known for producing many accomplished public speakers and debaters at the senior school level. What might not be as widely known, however, is that much of this success can be linked back to the public speaking opportunities that Collingwood provides in the elementary years.

At our Wentworth Campus, there are a wide variety of opportunities for students to begin developing their public speaking skills from their earliest grades. These opportunities range from in-class sharing, collaboration in group work, speaking at assemblies and, of course, class projects. One such innovative class project that encourages the development of public speaking skills is the Gr. 4 Changemaker Wax Museum.

As part of a conscious shift away from competitive public speaking events, the Wax Museum project encourages deeper, more authentic, process-based development of critical and creative thinking, research and communication skills. Students begin by exploring the difference between someone who is simply famous and someone who uses their voice to invoke positive change within their local and/or global community—a changemaker. Students then choose a changemaker they personally find inspiring to research. Instead of teacher-generated research questions, students create their own “snorkel” (who, what, when, where) and “scuba” (why, how) questions. “Students are in the driver’s seat,” said Keleigh MacKinnon, Gr. 4 Wentworth Teacher. “They control the research. As a result, they are very curious, motivated, and ultimately inspired by their changemaker.”

Once their research is complete, students prepare a presentation based on the answers to their scuba questions. The project culminates in the Wax Museum event, which includes a variety of costumes and other props. Each student is positioned like a wax statue within a circle on the floor that identifies their changemaker. When prompted, students “come to life” and share their changemaker presentation. 

“Students need to feel their voice is valued, welcome and understood,” said Ms. MacKinnon. “We hope this project will help students begin to understand that they, too, have the power to use their voice to invoke positive change and help make the world a better place.”

"The Grade 4 Changemaker process has allowed us to evolve from our foundations of traditional public speaking to a place that embraces inquiry, personalized learning and student ownership. This has been an authentic and inspiring journey that has enabled the students to explore their passions and seek inspiration to make positive change in their local and global communities."
- Keleigh MacKinnon and Richelle Forbes, Wentworth Gr. 4 Teachers

Read the full Bridge, Spring 2023 edition here.

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