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The Biggest Influence

Which contribution by a selected community member has most influenced the community and you personally?

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

In this challenge, students consider how influential people from the past have contributed to the community and that many of these influences continue to affect students today. To introduce these influential individuals, take students on a walking tour of the community–or neighbourhood within a larger community–and invite them to notice landmarks (e.g., buildings, parks, streets, statues, stores, schools) that may have been named after people from the past or present who contributed to their community.

When four or five influential people have been identified (including key people from various cultural groups), inform the class that they will be asked to decide on the most influential contribution made by each of these people. Ask students to list the things they know about each person and what they would like to know about them. If necessary, suggest, questions such as:

  • What kind of persons were/are they?
  • What was/is their role/job in the community?
  • What contributions did/do they make to the community?
  • How might this person's contributions affect me?

Encourage students to use their questions to guide the inquiry. Consider assigning different groups of students to focus on gathering information for a particular influential person. You may want to adapt one of the charts and strategies in Recording Our Research (Support Material) to assist students in recording their questions and findings.

Invite community members (e.g., local historians, elders, museum/archive staff, business owners, cultural leaders) to the class to share the stories or alternatively, conduct a class investigation of these citizens using community resources such as museums, Websites, archives, postcards or tourism pamphlets. Make a list of three or four positive contributions made by each individual. Discuss the criteria for the most important contribution (e.g., benefited many people, had a very positive effect, it affects me). In turn, review each individual's contributions and ask students to complete a "secret ballot" indicating the most important contribution made by the person. The ballot may take the form:

________ is the most important contribution that ________ has made because________. This is an example of how his/her contribution influences me:________.

Repeat the procedure until each individual's most important contribution has been selected. As a class, share the results for each influential person.

As an extension, invite students to contribute to the local museum or archives by painting portraits/pictures of their profiled individuals and by writing letters stating why each person is deserving of recognition. You may want to adapt the chart and strategies in Selecting the Best Thing (Support Material) to assist students in recording their choices and reasons.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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