Boxes on Identity

Article excerpt

Identity. It's your personality, friends and family, talents and abilities, the place you live now, and the place from which you came. It's the things that make you proud, your music, clothes, memories and hopes for the future.

Issues of identity are key for middle school students. Many schools, attempting to help students come to grips with individual and group definition, have incorporated literature and humanities curricula to provide new avenues for reflective learning. The teachers who worked on this project are committed to reflective learning and helped shape the project to enhance their own curricula.

Exploring Identity

Seventh and eighth grade students from the Boston area cities of Brookline, Medford and Quincy worked on Boxes. Boxes was a program sponsored by the Tufts University Art Gallery in conjunction with artist Ellen Rothenberg's Conditions for Growth, part three of the Anne Frank project. Students participated in workshops during their language arts classes. These workshops integrated the visual arts and writing and brought the issue of identity as explored through literature like Frank's Diary of a Young Girl, Lowry's Number the Stars and Williams' A Gathering of Heroes to a more immediate level.

Autobiographical Artifacts

The students created autobiographies in small rectangular boxes with hinged lids. Through writing exercises, called Mind Maps, timelines and visual webs of important things in their lives, the students gathered artifacts to put in their boxes.

Baby teeth, lucky rocks and tiny braids from first haircuts were encased in containers and glued in place. …