"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, May 14, 2017

We are more than one thing: fifth graders and the unfolding identify project

This is the bulletin board outside the library. It's an expression of the self created from things the fifth graders shared while participating in the Unfolding Identity Project. The Unfolding Identity Project was created by Elly Swartz as a companion activity for her book Finding Perfect. Like the character Molly, Elly wants children to understand that no one things defines any of usElly Swartz introduced this activity during her visit to our school.

What appears on the bulletin board are the aspects of the students identity that they share with classmates, teammates, band mates, and the like. 

In the project these are the words and phrases the students add in steps five through twelve. I thought these would be the appropriate things to share anonymously but publicly. I put out pens, paper, scissors and a basket for them to contribute these words and phrases.
In the subsequent steps the students delve deeper into themselves and think about who it is they share with close friends and family and then ultimately those things they keep to themselves. They do not have to share this process if they don't want, but many did and many students worked in pairs to talk through the process. 

After reintroducing the project,the students were invited to collect materials and work anywhere in the library.
I circulated to make sure students both understood and were feeling okay about the process. If a student felt comfortable sharing, I asked if I could take a photograph. Below are a few examples of how my fifth graders see themselves. Most students did not get to the final steps in the project, which I prepared them for and which I think is good. Finishing this at home will give them emotional space and time to be thoughtful thinkers about themselves.

The final project can be folded into a fortune teller which becomes a tangible way to see how these aspects of their identity are revealed in different layers and protected deep within.

This was an incredibly cool day in the library.

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