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. In an online learning environment, we advise against asking students to share their identity charts with their peers. While sharing parts of their identity charts can help students build community and relationships in the physical classroom, posting their identity charts online can feel especially risky for students.
The following questions can help you plan to use identity charts in a remote learning environment:
To help prompt students’ thinking, you can ask them to think about a person—either real or fictional—whom they know a lot about. Then, they can brainstorm a list of words or phrases that they could use to complete the sentence:
This person is ______.
Once students have a list of characteristics, they can brainstorm categories the characteristics belong to.
Ask your students to write their responses to the prompt in a shared document or forum, such as Padlet or GoogleDocs. If you are teaching synchronously, ask your students to type their responses into the document or forum during your lesson. If you are teaching asynchronously, ask your students to add their responses to the shared document or forum during a defined time-period.
After brainstorming a list of categories, ask your students to reflect on the following questions, either individually or in small groups:
Model creating an identity chart for your students. If you are teaching synchronously, share your identity chart with your students during class, and explain why you included certain aspects of your identity. If you are teaching asynchronously, send your students your identity chart with a written or recorded explanation. Alternatively, instead of sharing your own identity chart, you can share the example identity chart below.Ask your students to create their own identity charts on a piece of paper or on the editable student-facing handout. This step can be completed asynchronously. Do not ask students to share their identity charts with their peers. The online environment can make this activity feel especially risky for students, since they lack the non-verbal cues that can help build trust with face-to-face learning.
First, write the name of the character, figure, group, or nation in the center of a shared document (such as a GoogleDoc, Google Jamboard, Padlet, or VoiceThread). Explain to students that they should type the aspects of that person’s identity into the document, surrounding their name.
Then, ask students to look through text(s) for evidence that helps them answer the question:
Who is this person/group?
Encourage students to include quotations from the text(s) on their identity charts, as well as their own interpretations of the character or figure based on their reading.
Students can complete identity charts individually or in small groups. If you are teaching synchronously, students can meet with small groups in virtual breakout rooms. If you are teaching asynchronously, students can write their responses (during a defined time-period) in a document shared with the other members of their group.
Designed for remote settings, this discussion strategy is especially useful when having conversations about controversial topics.