Students examine ways in which individuals express identities by creating a poster or a collage that represents the three or four most important features about themselves.
List identity features
Involve the class in a "popcorn" activity in which students call out features that shape their identity; e.g., female, student, hockey player, Canadian. Record features on the board.
Categorize identity features
Ask students to gather similar features into categories. If needed, demonstrate how to categorize by using a think-aloud strategy while creating sample categories. Here are some examples:
- traditions (e.g., Hockey Night in Canada)
- role modelling (e.g., heroes, mentors)
- languages (e.g., bilingual, Francophone)
- religion and spirituality (e.g., beliefs about an afterlife)
- the arts (e.g., music, dance)
- attire (e.g., clothing, body markings)
- relationship to land (e.g., farmers, hunters, stewards)
- ideological beliefs (e.g., political views, personal mottos).
Invite students to work alone or in small groups to categorize features. Ask students to include at least two ideas in each category.
Choose the most influential features
Ask students to select from each category one or more of the most influential features in shaping their personal identity. To meet diverse learning needs, teachers may direct students to select as few as 8 to 10 features or as many as 12 to 15 features.
Students may use these criteria for selecting influential features:
- how much the feature impacts how others see you
- how much the feature impacts how you see and feel about yourself.
Narrow the list
Ask students to use the same criteria to sort the selected features into three categories: extremely influential, very influential or somewhat influential. Encourage students to limit their extremely influential category to three or four features.
Justify your choices
To prepare students to justify their choices of extremely influential features, conduct a large group discussion using the following prompts:
- How does gender define you?
- To what extent is your identity defined by your age?
- How big a factor are your family's customs and traditions to your identity?
- Where do you get your values?
- Who are your heroes and do how do they impact on your identity?
- How might your identity change if you moved to another province or country?
You may want to adapt the charts and strategies in Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Create a poster or collage
Invite students to create a poster or a collage that represents three or four extremely influential features of their identity. Students may use drawings, photographs, media images, keywords and symbols in the collage or poster.
Share the posters and collages
Ask students to form pairs to discuss their poster or collage by describing the features they chose and explaining how these features reflect who they are. Encourage students to respect differences.
Write a poem or rap
As an optional activity, invite students to write an "I Am" poem or rap that includes all of the influential features, and also stresses the three or four extremely influential features. Encourage students to share the poems or raps with the whole class.
Extension: Local or global influences?
Ask students to review their extended list of influential features to decide how many of these features are entirely local in scope, e.g., grandparent as role model, and how many have global implications; e.g., international heroes, attire or music. Remind students that the issue to consider is "To what extent should globalization shape identity?" or "Should globalization shape identity?" Ask students to record responses in a two-column chart.