What would you build to represent who you are?
How would you write about your creation: prose, essay, poetry?
Our sixth graders, on the back of reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham in English class, just finished their Identity Project gallery day. On this day, students speak with passion and as experts on how they define themselves and their chosen expression of that definition. I experienced a number of year-altering conversations with our young people in sixth grade as they stepped into the spotlight and revealed themselves for all of us to share and celebrate. Vulnerability was paramount in this effort, and every child found innovative ways to express this vulnerability as they opened their lives to us.
Remember when you were in middle school? This project would NOT be on my top ten list, as protecting my self-image proved too important. But these young people did just the opposite: they shared that image and did so with joy. And the real heroes here are the sixth grade faculty who:
- Modeled vulnerability,
- Opened their classroom time to allow this project to thrive,
- Created intriguing discussions and connections to the mainstream curriculum so that students could apply their learning to this long-term project, and
- Stepped back from the very start to let each child take ownership of their presentation.