Lesson Plan on Understanding Who You Are

SoundOut students presenting their findings about the perfect school.
SoundOut students in Seattle presenting their findings about the perfect school.


Introduction: This is an identity and communication-oriented lesson plan for a mixed group of 12 to 100 students and adults.

Goal: When this session is complete, participants should be able to…

  • Distinguish between individual and group identity
  • Identify lingering questions about Student-Adult Partnerships
  • Relate personal stories to Student-Adult Partnerships

Time: 60 minutes

Materials: Flip chart paper and markers, large rectangular shaped Post-it pads in two colors, and writing instruments such as pencils, pens, or online blogs for the whole group.

Space: Lots of wall space and enough room to accommodate the entire group.

Considerations: This lesson plan is about identity: who we are and what it means to be individuals. Participants will have the chance to examine the questions they have about students and adults and to get some answers. It also gets preconceptions – and the experiences that have led to those preconceptions – out in the open in an anonymous manner. In addition, people get the chance to tell personal stories. However, be aware issues may arise making people angry, upset or uncomfortable. People don’t like feeling labeled or put into boxes. Also, individuals may have stories that are difficult to hear. Remind individuals that recognizing and acknowledging stereotypes is the first step to changing them. The exercise works very well with large groups although with small groups you’ll have greater opportunity to debrief.

Before the lesson, hang sheets of flip chart paper on two walls of the room. Designate one wall “students” and the other “adults.” Also, create a poster with the following two statements on it and hang it closed so that participants cannot see it. The poster should say, “The experience and/or knowledge I have of this group, which leads to some tension, or distance I feel is…” and “What I want to know about this group is….”



  1. [10 min] Start by giving the group an overview of the lesson plan. Then begin by asking the group to define “identity.” What does it mean to identify as part of a group? What does having an identity mean to you?
  2. [10 min] When you have a working definition, say, “Everyone has different groups they identify with. Those groups often include race or ethnicity, gender, occupation and relationships. Age is another major one of those groups. It is also one of the most evident differences in this group. However, within “students” and “adults” there are other groups. For example, within the group of “adults” you’ll also find “parents,” “teachers,” and “principals/administrators.” Within students you will find “athletes,” “students,” and “son/daughter.” However, rather than simply labeling people, sometimes titles can be negative or judgmental—and more often than not, those are the labels applied to students. For instance, many students despise being called “kid” or “juvenile.” Be aware.Instruct participants to take a piece of paper and write at the top “Student” or “Adult,” depending on which group they identify with. Under that, write that names of one to three other groups that you strongly identify and connect with as a student or adult. Explain that the purpose is to create sub-groups of students and adults to discuss what it means to identify with an age group.
  1. [5 min] Have participants report back, and create a list of 3-8 subgroups for “Student” and 3-8 subgroups for “Adult,” depending on the size of the overall group. Write the name of each of these groups at the top of a flip chart page on the wall. Draw a line down the middle of each page.
  1. [5 min] Pass out four Post-its (everyone gets the same color) to each person. Ask them to think about their experiences with students or adults or any of the sub-groups, and to write their answers on the Post-its. You might say,
  • “What has frustrated you about the other group? Why does this frustrate you?”
  • “What questions do you haven for this group?”
  1. [20 min] After several minutes, ask them to pick two groups they feel the greatest distance or tension with or have the most pressing question for. Give participants two Post-its notes and have them respond to the two questions you reveal on the poster you made before the lesson (see “Considerations”). Encourage them to mill around and add additional pages of flip chart paper as necessary. As a reminder, the questions are…
  • The experience and/or knowledge I have of this group, which leads to some tension, or distance I feel is…
  • What I want to know about this group is….As participants finish writing, have them post their notes on the appropriate pieces of flip chart paper. People then mingle around, reading statements.
  1. [20 min] Have participants identify a question they can respond to and stay by that question. Encourage everyone to choose a unique question, and when everyone is in place, have half the group go and ask questions of the people left standing with their questions. When that group is done, switch groups and answer the rest of the questions.
  2. [20 min] Gather the group back together in a circle. Explain to them that you are going to ask three questions, and you want everyone to think about their answer. A few people can share their thoughts with the group after each question; however, no one is obligated to share. The facilitator should read each question slowly, individually, and give the group several moments of silence between questions. After each question, you might ask, “Does anyone have anything to share?”
  • What is one thing you will remember over the next week that you just heard, felt, or thought?
  • What is one thing you want that you just heard, felt, or thought that you want to react to?
  • Do we ever have opportunities to ask open, frank questions to students and/or adults in the rest of our school? What do those look like?


NOTE: This lesson can raise emotions that the group has not shared before. Make sure you create the safe place for expression or share avenues for people to share their feelings before the lesson ends.


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