November 5, 2019

Affirming Identity in Second Grade

Through literature and guided exploration, the second grade students have been investigating what an identity is and how theirs is shaped by external influences as well as personal choices. Our hope is that each student will come to a deeper understanding of themselves and be proud of who they are, comfortable enough to share their identities, and therefore become less judgmental of themselves or others. This affirming identity development is a particular focus in the early elementary grades, the goal being to provide students with a positive grounding in who they are and engendering a sense of belonging.

The second grade emphasis on identity is a partnership between Kat Svetlik, during library classes, and Shane Finch, during technology classes. With Kat, students first explored stories that have strong characters revealing their identities in different ways to the audience, sparking discussions about what an “identity” is. These books include The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson, emphasizing the importance of sharing what makes us special, and Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers, a spoken-word poem that shows how our identities take different forms when considered from various perspectives.

With Shane, Kat and Holly Harper, students next explored an ‘identity wheel,’ a simplified version of a tool we have explored as a faculty, which allowed them to acquire the necessary vocabulary for discussing their identities. Students explored concepts such as racial & ethnic identity, geographical identity, and various aspects of their personal identities, such as activities they enjoy or groups to which they belong.

The next phase of this project will see the integration of technology as students create their own original program that communicates what they believe to be the most important parts of their identity. Students may create a game, a slideshow, an animation, or a conductive poster, or something yet to be devised! What students ultimately decide to create is based on their own gauge of their skills and interests, as well as how much of themselves they are willing to reveal. We look forward to seeing what this eager group of second graders produces in the coming weeks!