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.
Before creating identity charts, you might have the class brainstorm categories we each consider when thinking about the question, “Who am I?”—categories such as 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. It is often helpful to show students a completed identity chart before they create one of their own (see example section below).
Alternatively, you could begin this activity by having students create identity charts for themselves. After they share their charts, students can create a list of the categories they have used to describe themselves and then apply this same list of categories as a guide when creating identity charts for other people or groups.
Students use works by visual artist Glenn Ligon and writer Zora Neale Hurston to examine questions about their own identity.