Getting to Know Ourselves
Identity: Understanding Ourselves as a Foundation for Understanding Others
Lesson Objectives: Students begin to understand the concept of diversity and building respect and understanding among people. Students understand who they are and what having an identity means, and how people view and define themselves and others to make sense of the world. Students begin to understand that identifying themselves and others based on characteristics reflects a natural human tendency to create order.
Curriculum Areas: Social studies, life skills
Time Required: 40 minutes
Materials Needed: Copies of Lesson 1 Reproducible (PDF); board and markers
Key Concept: Recognizing that each person has individual characteristics and talents, and that this variety of attributes contributes to building friendships as well as community in the classroom, school, and beyond
Lesson Background: The beginning of the school year is a shared experience for students, families, and teachers alike. This lesson will help you and your students become familiar with each other at the start of the year. It can also be used for any new beginning, such as forming after-school groups or clubs, or whenever individuals come together to meet for the first time. By helping your students understand their identities and their connections to you and each other, you will begin to build a community during the back-to-school period and throughout the year.
What You Will Do:
- Hand out Lesson 1 Reproducible, “Who Are You?” Allow a few minutes for each student to fill out his or her responses.
- Read aloud the questions on the reproducible and then ask students to step forward as you call out a characteristic. For example, “Everyone with brown eyes, step forward.” (Note: Take care to avoid questions that single out one student.) Students will start to get a sense of similarities and differences in various aspects of their identities.
Emphasize that we all are different—each of us brings something unique to the class. Our differences constitute diversity, yet we have interests and qualities in common that link us together. For example, within one class there may be many differences in appearance, tastes, and personal history, but we are all linked by the shared experience of being in the same class. Emphasize to your students that it is important to understand and respect our differences and similarities, because this understanding will help us learn to get along.
- Based on your experiences in this lesson, what factors help make you who you are? What elements make up your identity?
- How can you find out about the identities of your classmates? (Write them a letter asking them about themselves. Ask them questions.)
- How can you share with the class an aspect of your identity? (Bring in something personal—a picture of a favorite pet, a book—something you love to talk about; tell a story about an important event in your life.)
Have students create identity charts. Instruct each student to put his or her name in the center of a piece of paper, and draw a circle around it. Then, on lines stemming from the circled names, have students list characteristics about themselves from the reproducible, or other characteristics they come up with.
diversity (noun) the range of differences among groups of people and individuals based on ethnicity, class, language, customs, etc.
identity (noun) how people see and understand themselves, and how others