Thirteen Ed Online
Lesson Plans
Who Am I? Exploring Identity
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students

Procedures for teachers is divided into two sections:
Prep -- Preparing for the lesson
Steps -- Conducting the lesson
Extension -- Additional Activities


Print out the student organizers for handing out during the class sessions.

Computer Resources:
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.

Bookmarked sites:
  •  Chart paper
  •  Writing Materials

Introductory Activity:

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 meanings.

  • 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 now?

  • Ask for volunteers from the small groups to share their insights with the class.

    HOMEWORK: Ask students to respond to the following Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes. Go to our Identity Organizer--Emerson 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.

    Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
    Students can either respond freely in their journals or they can address the following questions:
    • 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?
    Learning Activity:

    The purpose of Activity One is for students to learn about critical analysis of art and techniques used by artists.

    Activity One

  • 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 and selectedworks.html

    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 Identity Organizer--Art Analysis section for a printable version of the questions.

    Sites containing Minkinnen's work: PhotoEx/photominkkinen.htm

    Each group should present its analysis to the class. Compare and discuss the different ways that students chose to analyze the work.

    Culminating Activity/Assessment:

    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 project.


    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 other.

    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.

    Overview | Procedures for Teachers | Organizers for Students