In my unit, I have integrated by background information with my teaching strategies. Together, they present a sequential picture of the unit's scope and manner of approach. They should provide the teacher with an immediate understanding of my unit's content, as well as general information on how this content will be taught. The general activities discussed in my strategies will be followed by three examples of specific lesson plans related to the unit.
Looking at Our Own Identity
Since this unit explores the various identities which many African American women assumed and/or were forced to assume, pupils must have some idea of what I refer to when I discuss one's identity. For the purposes of this unit, when I refer to identity, I include both the roles in life that an individual sees her/himself as playing, along with the traits that best describe the individual in question. Naturally, when students discuss and explore the identity of each woman covered in this unit, the roles and traits assigned to each will be made from the perspective of the student based upon the information we have covered. For a more detailed discussion of identity, I refer the teacher to
"Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?"
by Beverly Daniel Tatum (See bibliography), especially material found in chapter two, where she explains the "I am" list that I use throughout my unit. Although Tatum discusses the multidimensional concept of identity and details the complex factors which influence its formation, I will only expect students of this age to have a basic understanding of these points. As we discuss identity, I do hope that they will realize that family, peers, the media, society in general, and the times in which we live are a few of the forces which work to shape one's identity.
In order to begin to get students to develop a sense of what I am referring to when I speak of identity, I will have them complete a paper on which they finish the statement "I am. . . ." a number of times. To help students to understand what they are to do, it might be necessary to demonstrate how a list might be completed. I would suggest using an animal as the list's subject, since that would lead to fewer suggestions which might influence the students' own choices about themselves. I will use Proud Puppy, a simple little dog I draw and talk to them about. They are quite familiar with him, so they should have no trouble creating a list. We will do this as a group.
When they have finished their own list, they will examine their responses and share them with the group if they wish. I will include about ten or twelve opportunities for response on a sheet and will ask them to have at least five of them be adjectives. We will spend some time discussing some of the factors that helped create our identities, but we will not go into any deep analysis. They will be told that we will be meeting a number of African American women for whom they will be compiling similar lists in order to understand these women on a deeper level. I understand that their level of maturity and experience places some limitation on their perceptions, but I believe these activities will lead them to a deeper understanding of the women and times we study.