Students learn about personal identity by selecting three artifacts that are powerful representations of their personal features. This challenge prepares students to explore national identity.
Because of the sensitive nature of the topic, it is important that students experience a safe and encouraging environment within which to share their personal feelings and histories.
Introduction to concept: Identity
Gather artifacts that might be found in the wallet of an actual or fictional person. Look for items such as photographs, identification, coupons, scraps of paper and local and/or foreign currency.
Use the artifacts to model how to draw inferences. Ask students: What can you tell me about this person from these artifacts?" Record students' inferences. Encourage the class to offer multiple responses and provide reasons for their guesses; e.g., the person likes to shop or to save money; the person may have children or grandchildren. Use the list to introduce the concept of identity. Suggest that these artifacts reveal much about the person's identity—what defines the person and makes that person distinct from others.
Recording could be captured and/or categorized using visual mapping software.
Develop criteria for selecting powerful artifacts
Ask students to select the three most revealing items about the person's identity and to provide reasons for their choices. Use these reasons to develop criteria for identifying powerful artifacts:
- reveal unique or special features about the person
- provide a lot of information about the person
- represent important aspects or qualities of the person.
Select and share powerful artifacts
Invite students to use the criteria to select five or six artifacts that are powerful representations of their personal identities. If students are unable to bring in artifacts, ask them to draw pictures of the items. Students may also create a collage incorporating various aspects of who they are and what they value.
Use criteria to rate artifacts
Review the criteria for powerful artifacts. Direct students to consider whether or not each of their personal artifacts is a powerful representation of their identity.
You may want to adapt the Options Checklist in Considering Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Select and share the most powerful artifacts
Arrange for students to share their artifacts with a partner and discuss their significance. Invite students to select the three most powerful artifacts and to refer to the Options Checklist in Considering Options (Support Material) to decide which items represent their most unique and important features.
Share about personal identity
Invite students to write about their personal identity by addressing the question "What makes you, you?" Alternatively, ask students to explain the top three artifacts that best represent their distinctive features.
You may want to adapt the charts and strategies in Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Extension: Identify the mystery individual
Ask students to place their five or six artifacts in an envelope or paper bag. Invite other students to study the mystery artifacts and guess the identity of the owner.