The activities and lessons included in this unit explore themes of identity. This unit is designed to support and challenge students who are attempting to identify themselves and others as unique individuals, and their desires to belong to a group or school community. While addressing the formation of identity, this unit will help students to build a safe learning environment and strengthen our school community. Identity and the idea of belonging to a community are central thoughts in the minds of our students. The lives of our students are centered on forming peer groups and relationships. One way to create positive learning environment and strong community is thorough the exploration and explicit teaching of identity. It is critical to begin discussing the concept of identity during CREW lessons because many of our students wonder about who they are, who they want to be, and what it means to be part of the CREW (community). Moreover, creating a sense of community (CREW) is a goal of Conte West Hill School.
The activities and lessons in this unit have been developed to boost a sense of belonging, acceptance, and understanding of identities. I believe students perform their best when they feel they belong. They are able to share ideas, take risks, and support each other fully. The multicultural texts and activities in this unit will promote meaningful ways for students to introduce themselves to their classmates as well as to their teachers. These activities are also designed to break down stereotypes and help build positive and healthy relationships. Moreover, the discussion of the literature used in class will open the students’ minds to the idea of inclusion and the celebration of diverse identities. It is through open discussion, dialogue, and engagement that students can develop and learn to understand identity. The readings, activities, and lessons in this unit will not only support the development of students’ identities but also help foster a sense of belonging and community.
Teaching about identity will help students not only in identifying their own individuality, but will also give students a deeper understanding of others who are different from them. Questions such as “Who I am?” and “Who and what influences identity?” are appropriate to analyzing and understanding individual or group identity. Encouraging students to think about and discuss identity is not only an effective way to create a positive school community, but it also teaches students about tolerance, acceptance, and self-pride.
The major part of our unit study will be based on group discussion using multiple work of children’s literature. Students will be able to negotiate their identity and they will begin to understand the formation of their identity through the discussion of the type of literature they read.
This unit is developed for middle school students and unit will be taught in nine weeks. Although the unit is designed for middle school students, with a minimal modification, this unit could be taught in any grade level. This unit will be part of CREW lessons and activities. Although this unit was created with African American and bilingual/multicultural students in mind, the unit is appropriate with any group of students. This unit is also designed to be co-taught but it could be implemented with one teacher.