student identity


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.

Identity activities

Tech-rich identity activities

Connecting social identity and equity

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