To dig a little deeper and connect my Tuesdays with Morrie unit to Narrative writing, which my students have and will be doing for the remainder of the year, I decided to create a ‘Who Am I/My Culture’ Assignment.
To lead into this assignment, we had an in-class discussion about culture and what the characters, Morrie and Mitch, had to say about their personal cultures, American culture, and culture in general. Then we related these ideas to our personal lives and started brainstorming aspects of our personal cultures: family life, traditions, sports, music, heirlooms, etc.
Who Am I/My Culture Assignment:
The first sheet that I gave my students was the Who Am I/My Culture Assignment Sheet [first picture above]. This explained the assignment, which was to select three artifacts/items/pictures of items that symbolize or represent the student. My goal was to push the students to think deeply about themselves, their history, their family, and their cultures. I wanted them to select items that weren’t, for example, ‘I brought a softball because I like softball’ but ‘I brought a softball because I’ve played for 13 years and it has shaped my family, as my sister played and my father coached me since I was six’. [I even added that example to the actual assignment sheet for reference!]
I also gave the students a Who Am I/My Culture Presentation Rubric [middle picture]. This showed the students what I was looking for when they talked [somewhat informally] about their three items.
After the presentations, I gave each student an Exit Slip to see what the students had learned about themselves and about one another.
I then introduced a Brainstorming Worksheet to help them develop their ideas/items and lead into the Who Am I/My Culture Paper. [To read more about that, click here].
To reflect on this assignment, I think that the one thing I will improve for next time is being very specific about what I’m looking for in their items. Despite what I thought was a clear assignment sheet where I explained the items and my focus on that they symbolized, I think the students need to be pushed, from the beginning, to think deeply about the items/pictures they choose.
I might have the students do the Brainstorming Worksheet before, to think of the items. Though it was beneficial to have them do the sheet afterwards, to dig even deeper for their paper, it might make more sense to have them think of the items and their meaning from the start, making an easier bridge over to the paper afterwards.