The Jr. Sr. High School gym was certainly filled with “characters” after school on Tuesday.
Who knew that Marilyn Monroe had three husbands? Or that Oprah Winfrey grew up in poverty? Or that Henry Ford financially backed the German Nazis before World War II.
Those are just a few tidbits from the grade 8 Living Wax Museum that was set up in the gym. The project strengthens their English and social studies skills and prepares them for the rigors of high school.
Each student was dressed as an historical figure. They were frozen until a visitor pressed a red button on their display. That unleashed a 15 second discussion about the character, based on the student’s research.
“I am very impressed with what they did here. They did all their own research and chose the most important aspects of their figure’s life,” said Molly McAleese, who along with English teacher Kristen Kelly organized the Living Wax Museum. “I’m especially pleased with their speaking skills. If they get confused or lose track, they are able to get right back on script.”
Dozens of parents, grandparents and siblings worked their way through the displays, routinely pressing the red buttons and listening to the students.
McAleese said the project will earn students 50 points – 25 points for their costume and 25 points for their oral presentation. Their posters will be a separate grade.
She also said students had to write a 750 word essay about their figures. McAleese said this project is a way to prepare students for the growing demands of high school English. In grade 9, they will have to produce a 1,000 word essay (1,250 words for Honors English) and they’ll have to produce a 1,500 word essay in grade 10 (1,750 words for Honors English).
“Every year, the demands get harder. This project was a way of getting them used to doing their own research and putting their thoughts on paper,” she said.
She was also pleased that students used MLA (Modern Language Association) standards to write their papers and conduct the research.
The idea grew from a conversation with a friend who teaches grade 6 in Massachusetts. She adjusted it to fit the grade 8 New York curriculum.