The beginning of a school year is a great time to explore and reflect on identity. For teachers who are working with students for the first time, exploring identity is a great way to get to know them and to build relationships. For teachers working with returning students, well, they may have changed a lot during the summer! In any case, identity work is good for relationships, developmentally spot on for young adolescents, and can provide a foundation for engagement and social justice learning.
We have compiled our best Identity blog posts to support educators doing this important work. You can find the resources below or go straight to the updated toolkit. Enjoy!
Young adolescents are compelled to explore various aspects of their identities, including values, beliefs, social identities, learning profiles, interests, cultures, and aspirations. When teachers provide opportunities for exploring and expressing identities, they will be able to strengthen relationships and provide personalized support to students’ academic and social emotional learning. As students seek to understand the world and their place in it, learning about social identity is fundamental for their ability to fully participate in a multicultural democracy and to further equity.
Why middle school students should learn about identity
Examples of classroom lessons and units
- Equity, identity, and art
- Grade 6 unit involving an exploration of social identity, connections to equity, and a culminating project working with teaching artists. Includes scope and sequence, teaching resources, and videos of students.
- Scaffolding deeper identity work with students
- A school-wide project (grades 6-8) with students designing a creative representation to answer the question “What is important to know about me to help me learn?” Includes launch slides to use with students and examples of identity projects from teachers and students.
- Exploring identity with 4th and 5th grade students
- An Action Research project focusing on an identity unit. Includes video presentation by the teacher researcher and slides used in a conference presentation.
- On fostering brave spaces
- An Action Research project focused on a grade 7-8 unit, with a research question of “How do we foster brave spaces for discussions about race and other forms of oppression in our classrooms?” Includes conference presentation, transcript, and slides.
- Google Tools for personalized learning plans (PLPs)
- A conference presentation from a teacher team working with grade 5-6 students, with an identity assignment used as the basis for students’ portfolios / PLPs. Includes video of presentation, transcript, and slides.
- How can students teach educators about social identity?
- Diverse books for conversations about identity
- 3 tools for exploring character with middle schoolers
Tech-rich identity activities
- Augmented reality and student identity
- 4 digital identity exercises with students
- Use ThingLink to explore identity
- Exploring identity and current events with Chatterpix