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Exploring Identity and Race (2 lessons)

Sarah Thomas
March 17, 2016 at 8:45am
P.S. 130
Grade: 1st
Cooperating teacher: Tracy Chiang
Room number: 313
Content area: ELA and Social Studies

Central Focus/Essential Question (Standard 3.3)

What makes up our identity? In what ways are we each unique, how can we recognize and
celebrate our differences?
Goal of Lesson
Using the book Lets Talk About Race, by Julius Lester as a springboard, students will begin to
understand that there are many components that make up their identity and the identities of their
classmates, and that every individual is unique. To that end, these lessons are designed to foster an
appreciation and celebration of difference within the classroom community and the world outside
of it.
Students will know:
The definition of race
The definition of identity
3-5 things about themselves and their classmates that makes them unique and are part of
their identity
Students will be able to:
Provide examples of 3-5 aspects of their identity and write about them, first using the My
Identity Web graphic organizer
Work productively in pairs
Write about their partner
Students will understand:
Race is just one part of identity
Who we are and how we define ourselves is multifaceted and includes factors such as
nationality, interests, likes and dislikes, family composition, etc.
Every person is different and unique and that these differences do not make one person or
group better than another, but rather, they enrich our experience of the world
Common Core Standards (Standard 2.1, 2.8)
RL.1.1: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text
W.1.8: With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or
gather information from provided sources to answer a question
SL.1.1: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1
topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups
SL.1.2: Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information
presented orally or through other media
SL.1.4: Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing
ideas and feelings clearly
SL.1.6:Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation
Prior Knowledge/ Key Misconceptions
Race and identity are complex concepts, even for adults. By the first grade, children are well
aware of racial difference, but do not have a full understanding of what it means. It is particularly
important when teaching these lessons that the school setting and community context are taken
into consideration. New York City is one of the most racially and ethnically diverse places in the
world, so students in this classroom will, at the very least, be used to seeing people from different
races. However, P.S. 130, which is located in the heart of Chinatown, has a homogenous student
body that is 88% Chinese; most of the teachers are Chinese as well. In this class of 26 students,

two are Caucasian, one is Black, two are mixed Caucasian and Chinese, and the rest are Chinese.
It is also likely that most of the students live in smaller communities within NYC that are also
homogenous. As a result, many of the children do not encounter diversity on a personal level.
However, author Julius Lesters framing of race as just one part of our identity makes this complex
concept accessible for children. Based on my experience with the students in this class, I believe
they will grasp his message.
Materials & Resources (Standard 3.1)
Book: Lets Talk About Race, by Julius Lester
Chart paper and markers
My Identity Web graphic organizer (see figure 1)
About My Partner handout (figure 2)
Exit Tickets
Lesson Development (Standard 3.1, 3.3) This should be the main section of your lesson plan.
Day One: Read-Aloud of Lets Talk About Race
To introduce this group of mini-lessons, I will do a read-aloud of the book Lets Talk about Race. I
will engage the students in the following ways during this read-aloud:
Show them the cover and ask them to describe what they see
Introduce the title and say: I have a question, what does race mean? Id like you to turn
and talk to a friend nearby about what you think it means.
Students will turn and talk for one minute. I will then call the class back and ask several
students to share their ideas. I will then provide a very simple definition of race, saying that
race refers to the color of a persons skin and certain other physical traits like hair color
and texture and eye shape. It has to do with where are families are from in the world. I will
give examples by saying that I am white, that Ms. Chiang is Asian, and Nicholas is Black.
Next, I will tell the class that in addition to talking about race, this book talks about
identity. I will ask: can anyone tell me what identity is? I will write down what students say
on chart paper.
Provide simple definition of identity and write it on the chart paper: Identity is who we are;
the things that make each person special and unique.
I will then tell the class that in this book, we will learn about some of the things that make
up a persons identity and that I am going to write them on the chart paper as we read.
Begin reading book
Page 1: I am a story. So are you. So is everyone. My story begins the same way yours
does: I was born on______. Stop and ask: what does the author mean here when he says
that everyone is a story?
Page 2: Many people and many events are part of my storyand yours too: the names of
our parents and where they were born, whether or not we have brothers and/or sisters
After reading this I will instruct students to turn and talk to a different person about their
family. I will tell them that they can ask their classmate questions such as if they have any
siblings, and what do your parents do for work?
Ask: Do you think that I should write this down as part of identity?
Page 3: The author lists his favorite food, hobbies, favorite color, religion, nationality. I
will ask: should we put this as a category on our list? What could we call this?
Page 6: Just as I am a story and you are a story and countries tell stories about themselves,
race is a story, tooeach race has a story about itself. And that story is almost always the
same: MY RACE IS BETTER THAN YOUR RACE. Some stories are true. Some are
not. Those who say MY RACE IS BETTER THAN YOUR RACE, are telling a story that

is not true. Ask: what is the author trying to tell us here? Why do you think people of one
race might think they are better than people of another race?
In the book it says that one reason is because people are scared. I will say: have you ever
been scared of something because it was different? I know I have. For example, I
remember when I went to a new school when I was little, I was scared because I didnt
know anyone. Do you think thats what the author means?
Page 11: the author tells readers to press on the skin underneath their eyes and feel the
bones, then do that to someone nearby and feel that the bones are the same. I will instruct
students to carefully do this to themselves and another student in the class. Ask: what do
you feel?
Page 12: But you want to know something? If I went outside without my skin, my
mustache, and the hair on my headI would look just like you. And you would look just
like me. After reading this page, I will ask students to close their eyes and imagine we all
looked like skeletons. Ask: what would that be like? Turn and talk to a partner.
The book goes on to talk about how there are so many others things besides race that
contribute to every persons story. Ask: Is there anything else we should add to our list of
identity categories?

After I have finished reading the book, I will ask the class what they think the authors message
was. Eventually, either through student responses or my instruction, they will learn that the book is
telling us that there are many things that make up our identity, or story. I will conclude this first
lesson by telling them that tomorrow we are going to think about and begin to write our own
stories and also work with our classmates to learn about each others stories.
Lesson Two: My Identity Web
1. Model (10 minutes)
For this second lesson, I will begin by modeling writing My Identity Web. First I will ask the
class to tell me about the book we read the previous day so that they can refresh their memories,
and refer back to the list we made the previous day. Then I will tell them that today they are going
to start writing their own stories. I will start with my story, using the categories in the graphic
organizer I created (see figure 1 at the end of this lesson plan).The writing I model will look
something like this:
I like

I dislike

My family and

My favorites

-I like to do yoga
-I like to exercise
-I like to travel to
different places
-I like to listen to music
-I like to go to museums
-I like to spend time in

-Cold weather
-Blue cheese
-Going to the dentist

-I have an older brother.

-My family is Jewish
-My family is white
-I was born and raised
in Manhattan.
-Now I live in Astoria,
-My family is from
Russia, but they came to
America a long time

-My favorite food is

pasta and ice cream
-My favorite season is
-My favorite animal is a
-My favorite subject in
school was English and
Social Studies

I will then show them the My Identity Web graphic organizer and send them back to their desks
where they will work on this individually.

2. Independent Writing (10 minutes)

Students will work individually on the My Identity Web graphic organizer. I will circulate
around the room to assess how students are doing and to ask and answer questions when
3. Paired Writing (10 minutes)
Students will be put into pairs so they can share their identity webs with each other. Each student
will get a handout (see figure 2) where they will record 3-5 things about their partner.
4. Sharing with the Class (10 minutes)
After they have worked in pairs, the class will reconvene in the meeting area and each group will
present their partner to the class. Note: there will probably not be enough time for each group to
present on this day, so the rest of the groups will present at the beginning of the next lesson.
5. Closing
I will tell the students that did not have an opportunity to present today that they will get to present
next time.
For an exit ticket, I will distribute a sheet of paper to each student that has the following written on
Something I liked about todays lesson:
Something I did not like or understand about todays lesson:
A question I have:
Differentiated Instruction (Standard 3.2)
I will model writing in full sentences and encourage students to write that way as well. There are
several students in the class with IEPs, one who is an ELL, and one or two others who struggle
with writing. For these students, I will come around and try to work individually with them, giving
the option to just write down one word responses in the graphic organizer.
Assessment (Standard 4)
Assessment is built in throughout the lessons through the use of questions that will allow me to
gauge whether students are grasping the content. For lesson two, the graphic organizer will serve
as a more formal assessment. In addition, the exit ticket at the end of lesson two will provide a
sense of the students understanding.

Figure 1

Figure 2
My Partners Name:_______________________________
I learned that my partner: