6th Graders Explore Identity Through Poetry & Collage

  • In The Classroom

Guest post from 6th Grade Teacher Nicole Post

A significant component of our work in 6th Grade is exploring our own identities. Students have explored common social identifiers as they seek to consider how the world might identify them and the identity that they want to reveal to the world. The purpose of this intrapersonal work is to better understand ourselves and our interconnectedness with others. It creates opportunities for empowerment and is an important component of our growth as agents of change. 

Recently, students have been delving into place-based questions they compiled as they work to “map” their individual identities. Through an inquiry-based approach, we stretched our thinking about how a place might impact or shape our personal sense of self. Here are some of the questions that were evoked:

  • What is the bond between a person and a place?
  • What places have been a part of your identity making?
  • What places have transformed you in any way?
  • What places do you feel connected to? Do you want to protect?
  • Does your family have a history of place?
  • What life lessons have you learned from a particular place?
  • What landscapes or structures are powerfully symbolic in your life?  

When we looked at this map of the world, some students noticed the compass. Certain students talked about climate change, wars, politics—the events that are ever present and transforming people and places across the globe. We talked about how sometimes the places we inhabit change or were not the places we thought they were after all. A few particular questions stood out as inspiration for continued thought and exploration:

  • How do you find your bearings? 
  • What guides you?
  • What is your “North Star?”

Students decided to represent their “North Stars” through collage. They brainstormed different symbols to use as well as the media they would incorporate. They also noticed strategies that other artists have used. They also worked to express their feelings about these ideas through what we are calling Poetry of Place. After their first attempts, they watched a video by Ron Berger that highlights the necessity of specific feedback and critique in developing an Ethic of Excellence.

Finally, they collaborated to curate the bulletin board outside of the main office with their work. We hope it inspires you to think about your identity in the world, as well as how you will find your bearings in different places and spaces. 

You can see an album of the students with their collages here.

You can read their poems here.