This challenge focuses on the school's role in shaping a student's sense of identity. Invite pairs of students to think about the features of the school (e.g., people, places, things, activities) that are special to them. Once partners have developed a preliminary list under each category, take the class on a walking tour of the school to look for ideas to add to their list. Point out any notable people, places, things and activities. Take digital pictures of the special features. Encourage students to make a mental or written note of each aspect. You may want to adapt one of the charts and strategies for Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity. Upon returning to the classroom, ask a few students to retrace the route on a large wall mapa simple blueprintof the school. Locate key features that were observed. Point to a location and ask students for directions (e.g., "If I am in our class, which way do I go to get to the library?"). Invite students to ask a partner for directions to main features of the school.
Organize all the identified features of the school by transferring the recorded information to slips of paper and pasting them underneath the appropriate heading on the large sheet. You may want to colour-code the four kinds of features (people, places, things, activities). Invite students to consider which features of the school they would miss if they had to move away and explain why. Explain that thinking about what we might miss most helps us determine what is really important. List their suggestions and contributions. Look for commonalties among the reasons and use them to generate criteria for deciding what makes a school feature important (e.g., the person has strong positive feelings about the feature, the feature provides a benefit to the person, the feature is not likely to be found elsewhere). Suggest that not everyone in the class will choose the same features.
Ask students to use the criteria to select four special features of the school that best relate to their identity. Direct students to draw pictures of the most important feature in each category. You may wish to adapt one of the charts and strategies in Justifying My Choice (Support Material) for students to share and explain their most important feature in each category.
Display the completed pictures on the giant school map. The "Place" pictures can be pasted directly on the map; other pictures can be glued along the sides of the map. Alternatively, arrange for partners to work with older students to create slides for a PowerPoint presentation. (Templates for student-created PowerPoint presentations are available.) Encourage students to import digital pictures taken on the school tour and use a graphics or draw program to create slides for features that do not have pictures. Slides should be labelled. Invite students to notice the different features that they find special. As each student points out the special features, ask the class to consider what they can learn about the person: "What does this tell us about what name values most in our school?" Explain that these special feelings are part of what makes each of us who we arethey are part of our identity.
Adapted from Contributing to Family and Community, edited by Mary Abbott, Roland Case and Jan Nicol (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2003), 35.