Who Am I? Exploring Identity
Procedures for teachers is divided into two sections:
-- Preparing for the lesson
-- Conducting the lesson
-- Additional Activities
Print out the student organizers for handing out during the class sessions.
You will need at least one computer with Internet access to complete this lesson. While many configurations will work, we recommend:
- Modem: 28.8 Kbps or faster.
- Browser: Netscape Navigator 3.0 or above or Internet Explorer 3.0 or above.
- Macintosh computer: System 7.0 or above and at least 16 MB of RAM.
- IBM-compatible computer: 386 or higher processor with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 3.1. Or, a 486/66 or Pentium with at least 16 MB of RAM, running Windows 95.
The purpose of the Introductory Activity is for students to reflect on
different aspects of their own identity.
Explain to the students that in this lesson, they define and reflect
on their own identity. Then, they see how two photographers featured in
EGG THE ARTS SHOW deal with this theme in their work. Finally, students
create an artistic representation of their own identity.
Write "identity" on the board and ask the students to brainstorm its
Ask each student to create an "Identity Map" which depicts all the
components that make up their own identity, including the varied roles
they play. Show students how to create their maps by putting a circle on
the board and writing "Me" in the center. Then, draw lines out from the
circle and write words such as "loyal," "artist," "daughter," etc.
Divide the class into small groups and ask students to share their
maps with each other. Ask them to discuss the following questions:
- What 3 words would you choose to best describe yourself?
- Why do those words accurately describe you?
- What 3 words would your family or friends use to describe you?
- How accurate are other's descriptions of you?
- What 3 words do you want to describe yourself as 10 years from
Ask for volunteers from the small groups to share their insights with
HOMEWORK: Ask students to respond to the following Ralph Waldo
Emerson quotes. Go to our
Quotes section for a print out version.
To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in
your private heart is true for all men, -- that is genius.
Students can either respond freely in their journals or they can address
the following questions:
Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
- What is Emerson advocating?
- Give an example from your life in which you either followed or did
not follow Emerson's advice. What were the results?
The purpose of Activity One is for students to learn about critical
analysis of art and techniques used by artists.
Have students share their homework assignments with the person
sitting next to them, and then with the class as a whole. It is often
helpful to begin with very small groups when dealing with potentially
sensitive or personal topics.
Now that students have reflected on the topic, they'll look at two
artists who deal with identity. Begin by modeling the process of
critical analysis with the class as a whole. Later, students will
repeat this process using a photo of their own choosing. It may help to
bookmark the page with the selected photograph before you begin.
As a class, explore the photographs of Cindy Sherman at
Ask the students the following questions:
- What is the subject of this photograph?
- What colors do you see?
- What shapes do you see?
- What is the photographer's perspective? How close is the
photographer to the subject? Are you looking down at the subject? Up?
- Is the subject clear or blurry?
- Besides the subject of the photo, what other objects appear in the
picture? Are these objects natural or man-made? How is the subject
interacting with these objects?
- Is the photograph dark or light, or both? Is it naturally lit, or
did the photographer use artificial light?
- What do you think the photographer is saying about herself in this
picture? What do you see in the picture that supports your opinion?
- How does the photograph make you feel?
- Do you like or dislike it? Why?
Now student groups of three or four will try out the analysis on
their own. Begin by having the groups explore the Web sites listed below
with an aim towards choosing their favorite image. They should answer
the analysis questions from the previous step. Go to the
Organizer--Art Analysis section for a printable version of the
Sites containing Minkinnen's work:
Each group should present its analysis to the class. Compare and discuss
the different ways that students chose to analyze the work.
In the initial activities students explored aspects of their own
identity. Then the focus shifted to how others represent their identity.
The purpose of the Culminating Activity is for students to create a
representation of their own identity.
Ask the students to create a representation of themselves. Before
they begin, they need to review what they wrote about themselves in the
Introductory Activity. At some point in the creative process, students
should record what they are trying to communicate about themselves, and
how they plan to do this. See the
Identity Organizer-Final Project
for guidelines on the projects.
Once students complete the project have a class exhibition of the
work. Each student should explain their rationale behind the
The purpose of this extension activity is for students to think about
what they want to achieve in the future, and to get to know each
Journalism: Ask students to imagine they've just traveled ten years
into the future--they're ten years older and wiser. Break students in
pairs and ask them to interview one another to find out who they
are--their values, failures, successes, and ambitions.