How to Foster Student Belonging and Identity Affirmation Unpacking “What’s in a Name?” with Students Writing and Recording Their Own Stories

How to Foster Student Belonging and Identity Affirmation Unpacking “What’s in a Name?” with Students Writing and Recording Their Own Stories

09.27.21
09.27.21

By Theresa Janzen

INTRODUCTION

This lesson sequence offers students a chance to reflect on the theme of identity, drawing from both their personal experiences and those of other youth. It begins with students’ reflection on their own names, followed by an exploration of youth-produced media sharing personal journeys of cultural identity formation. The lesson sequence culminates in students creating an identity story of their own using the YR Media materials as mentor texts and capturing it in a video.

COMMUNITY CONNECTION ICEBREAKER

Quick Write: What is your legal name? Do you like your name? Do you go by a different name? Why? Do you know the story behind your name? What questions would you like answered about your name? How well does your name represent you? 

Once students have had time to think and write about the prompt, have them discuss it in small groups of three or four. You can then share as a whole class.

ACTIVITY 1: READ AND DISCUSS THE TEXT ON YR MEDIA TITLED “ACCEPTING MY LATINA IDENTITY” BY LUCY BARNUM

Part 1: Share the two-minute text with the class. 

Visual Voices: Accepting my Latina Identity Tell students to just watch and listen to the video – no need to take notes. You may even want to show it two times. The video is short, so students may need time to settle in. 

Part 2: Discuss questions as a whole class:
  • Why did Lucia feel more comfortable going by the name Lucy?
  • Why would it be easier to blend in and not spotlight your culture? What are the benefits?
  • How is this “blending in” detrimental?
  • What is “name-calling” and how does that affect one’s mental health?
Part 3: After having a whole-class discussion, hand out copies of the text.  (You could also have them annotate the text online.) 

Students will annotate each paragraph by answering the questions:

What is the author saying? How is the author saying it? (What is the verb that BEST describes what the author is doing?)  I would probably have a list of verbs on the whiteboard. 

You may need to model this activity with your students to help them better understand how to annotate. 

Part 4: Once most of the groups have completed, review the process as a whole group while discussing the text in more detail. 

ACTIVITY 2: BRAINSTORM 

Students  begin brainstorming ideas for their own stories using this handout. If students don’t want to use the visual brainstorm just make sure they have the prompts listed in the handout. 

*YR Media Resource: Students may also want to read some of the other texts available on YR Media to help with ideas. Peruse YR Media youth reporting on various topics to help identify an issue or topic of interest &/OR teachers may want to pre-select a specific topic area in advance, to establish a focus – Arts + Culture | Identity  | Tech | Health

More examples:

My Identity As An Afro-Latina

Why I Was Ashamed of Owning My Asian Identity

Learning to Accept My Jewish Identity

What It Took to Change My Friends’ Perceptions of the Muslim Community

ACTIVITY 3: BEGIN DRAFT #1

Hopefully at this stage, students will have a lot of ideas about what they want to include in their story. To help students begin, take a look at some of the first sentences or paragraphs from the examples. You can even have students note in their notebooks or on a google doc which beginning they want to try. Next, in their writing groups have students one at a time “write in the air” (i.e., have a collaborative group discussion) about the ideas they have. At this point you will notice students who are ready to write and those who are not. You may need to conference with a small group to help them start. Allow students plenty of time in class to draft their first draft.

ACTIVITY 4: REVISE DRAFT  #1

  1. Revise for word choice. Students eliminate vague words and replace them with more specific words to help readers visualize. Make sure it is in 1st person. 
  2. Writing groups exchange papers and readers ask the writer “So What?” This encourages the writer to focus their writing.
  3. Now that students have a draft, watch and listen to Lucia Barnum’s  Visual Voices: Accepting  my Latina Identity again. Ask them how does her voice add to the authenticity of the writing? How do the images help relay the “So What?” of her story?
  4. Students may have now guessed that they will be creating their own video of their story!

ACTIVITY 5: STUDENTS RECORD VIDEOS OF THEIR STORIES 

After responses have been finalized, students will record a video of themselves reading their responses. Students can use “selfie” view to record their own videos, have a peer or family member record them, or use the camera on their computers. Alternatively, students can record each other within their breakout rooms using the recording feature.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITY 6: CURATE THE VIDEOS, HAVE A “GALLERY WALK” & DISCUSS

Lastly, students will open a slide deck or presentation with their story on the first slide and embed their videos into subsequent slides. Students can upload their final slide decks to a shared drive. 

Invite students to explore and interact with their peers’ slides in the shared drive. Optionally, you can require students to make at least two comments on their peers’ work. Some prompts for comments are:

  • What did they find surprising? 
  • Did any one person’s perspective really resonate with you? 
  • How would you have answered the prompt that the group provided? 

DEBRIEF AS A CLASS 

What did you like about this activity? 

What did you find most challenging? 

Having done this activity, is there another topic you’d like to hear your peers’ perspectives on?

RELATED RESOURCES

Small group writing conferences offer space for targeted instruction and support for students.

“So What?” questioning causes writers to  reflect on the purpose and implications of their ideas. Developed by Nancie Atwell (2002)

STANDARDS ADDRESSED

Common Core ELA Writing Standards (across 6-12 grade levels):
ISTE Technology Standards:
  • ISTE Standard 3
  • ISTE Standard 6 & 6b

INVITATION FOR ACTION & CONNECTION

Teachers, are you excited about the work your students created? As always, if your students love what they created please invite them to join YR Media’s community and pitch their pieces to our editors. And teachers, sign up here to receive email updates when new curriculum tools are published and become a member of our growing teacher network!