Identity charts are a graphic tool that can help students consider the many factors that shape who we are as individuals and as communities. Use identity charts to deepen students’ understanding of themselves, groups, nations, and historical and literary figures. Sharing their own identity charts with peers can help students build relationships and break down stereotypes. In this way, identity charts can be used as an effective classroom community-building tool. This strategy can be used in grades 3-12 in any content area.
1. Before creating identity charts, have the class brainstorm categories that they considered when thinking about the question, "Who am I?"
2. If it doesn't come up in discussion as you generate your group list of categories, prompt students with questions that help them think about the following ideas:
3. Have students create their identity chart. If students are struggling to get started or feel unsure about what this should look like, the teacher should consider creating an anchor chart about him or herself to model this activity with the students. The teacher could also have the class brainstorm what an identity chart could look like so everyone has a variety of ideas.
4. Have students share their identity charts with the class or within a small group. Explain to students that identity charts can help them identify and appreciate differences and similarities that they share.
The identity chart can be extended into a personal student project that is done over time.
This strategy can be applied to academic content as well. In this context, students would explore a historical or fictional character and make an identity chart about that character.
See the resources below for examples of academic identity charts.
Using Identity Chartering to help students consider the many factors that shape who we are as individuals and as communities is an excellent tool teachers can use to support and build relationships with students with disabilities. Building an environment where these students can feel safe and valued members of the community and better understand the perspective of others is an important building block to helping them form relationships and thus build overall engagement and investment in their learning.
Using a tool like Identity Charting in a classroom environment requires significant executive functioning (task initiation, prioritization, working memory, etc.), emotional regulation, written and verbal expression skills. In order to support students with disabilities in theses areas, consider the following modifications:
Teacher knowledge and acknowledgement of students disabilities is a key way to help students with disabilities successfully complete identity charts. Teachers should consult with special education department administrators or special education teachers for information on not only specific disability types and needs present in a classroom, but how students want those needs acknowledged. This will help ensure that these students have appropriate accommodations or modifications to engage with Identity Charting.
Use visual aids, timers and verbal reminders to help students with task initiation and task completion when using Identity Charts. Depending upon the number of students with disabilities present in a classroom, teachers should consider increasing the amount of time they spend on explicitly teaching norms of how tools like Identity Charts will be used in class.
To support students with disabilities that impact their verbal expression, teachers can provide sentence stems for their responses. See the "Accountable Talk Stems Anchor Chart" in the resource section below for more information.
If multiple teachers are present in a classroom, careful thought should be put into co-teaching models and how they integrate into a differentiated lesson plan using Identity Charts. See the "How to Choose a Co-Teaching Model" and “Differentiation Within the Inclusion Classroom Model” in the resource section below for more information.
Explore the "Introduction to Identity" lesson by 11th grade ELA BetterLesson Master teacher Martha Soto to see how Martha helps students draw inferences and practice speaking skills by exploring the topic of identity in a chart and in discussion.