How to Implement the Identity Charts Teaching Strategy in Your Classroom


Identity charts are a tool that can help learners consider the many factors that shape who we are as individuals and as communities. Utilize identity charts to deepen learners’ comprehension of themselves, groups, nations, and historical and literary figures. Sharing their identity charts with peers can help learners build relationships and break down stereotypes. In this way, identity charts can be used as a useful classroom community-building tool.


Brainstorm: Prior to creating identity charts, require that the class discuss categories that we ponder when thinking about the query, “Who am I really?” If it doesn’t come up in the conversation as you generate your group list of categories, prompt learners with questions that help them think about the following ideas:

  • Some facets of our identities are consistent over our lives; others change as we gain skills and have different roles in life.
  • Some facets of our identities feel very central to who we are, no matter where we are; others may feel more like background or depend on the situation.
  • Some facets of our identities are descriptions that others put on us. It is often helpful to show learners a completed identity chart before they create one of their own.

Alternatively, you could begin this learning activity by having learners create identity charts for themselves. If you plan to require that they share their identity charts with a partner or in groups, they must know in advance. Any learners who don’t feel comfortable sharing their identity charts can elaborate on one or two facets of their identity but keep their charts private. After discussing their charts, learners can create a list of the categories they have used to describe themselves and then apply this same list of categories as a guide when creating identity charts for other people or groups.

Create Identity Charts for a Person or Group: First, ask learners to write the name of the character, figure, group, or nation in the center of a piece of paper. Then learners can look through the content for evidence that helps them answer the question: “Who is this person/group?” Encourage learners to include quotations from the content on their identity charts, as well as their interpretations of the character or figure based on their reading. Learners can complete identity charts individually or in small groups. Alternatively, learners could contribute ideas to a class version of an identity chart that you keep on the classroom wall.

Utilize Identity Charts to Track New Learning: Reviewing and revising identity charts during a unit is one way to help learners keep track of their learning.


Starburst Identity Chart: Utilize a starburst identity chart to help learners visualize the difference between factors that they feel make up their identities (arrows pointing out from the middle) versus labels that others place on them (arrows pointing into the middle). Because we may agree with several of the ways that the outside world views us and disagree with others, there may be some overlapping ideas between the two sets of arrows. Learners can also utilize examples from content to create starburst identity Charts for characters and historical figures to help express the complexity of their identities. 

Prioritizing Factors on Identity Charts: After learners create an identity chart, you can ask them to select the five items they think are most significant in shaping this person or group’s identity. As learners compare their lists, this often deepens their comprehension of the person being studied.

Identity and Context: Personal and group identities are composed of multiple factors, some having more significance in particular contexts. To help learners appreciate this concept, you may ask them to think about the five factors that are most significant to shaping their identity in one context, such as school, and then in another context, such as home or with friends.

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