Identity Charting

Use Identity Charting to help students identify and compare what shapes them as individuals by looking at their similarities and differences
46 teachers like this strategy

About This Strategy

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. 

Implementation Steps

30 minutes

1. Before creating identity charts, have the class brainstorm categories that they considered when thinking about the question, "Who am I?"

  • Some category examples include: our role in a family (e.g., daughter, sister, mother), our hobbies and interests (e.g., guitar player, football fan), our background (e.g., religion, race, nationality, hometown, place of birth), and our physical characteristics.

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:

  • Some aspects of our identities are consistent over our lives; others change as we gain skills and have different roles in life. Who do you think you will be all of your life? For example, "I will always be ... But I know that as I get older, there are ways that I will change. Some of those things are ..."
  • Some aspects of our identities feel very central to who we are no matter where we are; others might feel more like background or depend on the situation. Are there times that you just feel inside of yourself like this "thing" is super important. For example, kindness and honesty are super important to me.
  • Some identities are labels that others put on us, While others see us as having that identity, we don't.

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.

  • Students should be encouraged to use both words and images or drawings. If students want to use online images, consider the following article linked below by ISTE on finding free and fair use photos.

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. 


Identity Charts Project

The identity chart can be extended into a personal student project that is done over time.  

  1. If this is going to be a project stretched out over time, consider having a check-in time each week (i.e. Friday) where students work on and discuss the progress of their identity chart with the teacher. 
  2. Several options for extended projects include: 
    • After students have completed their chart have students choose the top five parts of their identity to elaborate and discuss with their peers.
    • After students have completed their chart, have them tell their story. Possible ideas include: recording their story via screencast, turning and talking with a partner, sharing with the class, or writing their story. 
    • Have students make their story authentic by telling it to the world. 
      • Students can team up and make a video together. This video could include video/images they capture of things in their outside of school life that illustrate their story.
      • They can be given choice over working with a group or by themselves.
      • Students should be given guidance when completing a project that will be shared publicly.  For example, the criteria for the work should include expectations around appropriate language and images and examples of that would need to be shared.
    • Students stories could be "published" via a web page.


Academic Identity Charts

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. 

Implementation Steps:

  1. Have students develop an identity chart for character or a topic (historical or fictional).
  2. Students should use the same charting method to capture notes on a new topic with the "identity" being the topic or character. 

See the resources below for examples of academic identity charts.

Special Education Modification

Nedra Massenburg
Special Education Specialist

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:


  1. 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.

  2. 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.  

  3.  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.

  4. 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.


Lessons to Support Implementation

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.