Sunday, 4 May 2014

Identity Day

I have now experienced two Identity Days as a teacher, presented information about it at a school district meeting, and have shared this information with many colleagues, but I have not yet blogged about it!

When I first heard about Identity Day through teachers on Twitter, I was completely excited to try it.  It was one of the things that excited me about my move to elementary school; building a strong sense of community in a small school seemed like a very attainable goal.

Identity Day looks like a science fair; each student has a "booth" set up with various displays.  The difference is that students choose something that is important to them, which makes them who they are, to share with the school.  My lovely colleague Michelle and I worked to organize Identity Day for our two grade 6/7 classes and the other intermediate classes joined in.  The primary classes chose not to join, so we had our primary students explore the stations with "bingo cards" to encourage them to visit a wide of stations.  Each square asked them to "find someone who likes..." and Michelle ensured that each topic was covered at least once on four versions of the form.  We were really amazed at how proud and excited our students were that day; we had 100% student engagement and the kids absolutely loved sharing their interests with one another.  We couldn't believe how the social barriers broke down that day; students who never spoke to one another were engaging in long conversations over their interests.

One piece of feedback we received was that it would have been beneficial to have Identity Day earlier in the school year for the purpose of community building.  We agreed.  The following November, my colleague Erin and I held another one.  For the purpose of set-up and clean-up, we recommend holding an Identity Day fair between recess and lunch.  We enjoyed holding it in the gym, as the buzz in the room was incredible, but it could easily take place throughout a school if you have many students involved.  It would be interesting to hold Identity Day during an Open House at your school so that more families can attend and get to know students in the school community.

Links to Our Resources
If you would like to plan your own Identity Day, here are the resources that Michelle, Erin, and I created for our students.  Please feel free to use, edit, and share these.

Work Plan (completed by all students and sent home)
Letter for Parents (paper copy sent home)
Web Letter for Parents (website / e-mail with links)
Identity Day Reflection (completed and discussed after the event)
"Bingo" sheet (We made four versions, one of which had pictures for kindergarten students. Our students had stickers to give students when they came to their stations.)

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