The theme for 8th grade is simply: identity. Students explore identity through forgiveness and justice, immigration, and making a difference. Each novel, poem, short story, and writing piece is carefully chosen with identity in mind. The assignments were designed to make them question who they are and what they stand for. This year, I had my students create an identity portfolio from all of their writing pieces. Why? Because later in life they will be able to look back and reflect on who they were in 8th grade…because sometimes we forget…
The following pieces were included in their identity portfolios:
- Bio Poem: A fun reflection in prose.
- Forgiveness Personal Narrative: After reading The Sunflower by Simon Weisenthal, students question their ability to forgive. They reflect on a time when they had to forgive someone or someone had to forgive them in a personal narrative.
- I’m From Poem: This poem is based on George Ella Lyon’s piece. Students create their own poems, a collective poem, and a digital story based on it found here.
- What’s Your Story?: A creative writing project in which students designed a 3 dimensional object reflecting all of their heritages along with a story of how it came to be.
- This I Believe: A personal belief statement essay in 350-500 words. Click here to view the entire project.
- Six Words: Students were challenged to create a story in six words using a visual and words.
- Make a Difference Project Personal Reflective Paper: A reflection piece about their year long project.
- One Thing Photo Essay: In a photo essay, students were asked to be photographed with the one thing they value most.
- Bucket List: Students created a list of 50 things they would like to accomplish before their time is up.
- Memory Letter: Students wrote a heart felt letter to someone that is important to them with specific memories tied to it.
- Graduation Speech: Each student wrote a graduation speech to reflect on their years at Montgomery.
Students had the option of presenting their portfolio any way that they wanted in order to reflect their own personal identity and personalities. I had scrapbooks, boxes, handmade books, binders, suitcases, and even an entire bookshelf of work created and written over the past three years with me. These projects overwhelmed me. When you see all that a student has accomplished within a year, how they have progressed, and what they have discovered about themselves is a humbling experience. Many tears were shed as I flipped through each page. I thought I knew these kids, but I learned something new about each and every student. This was the first year that I did this portfolio project, and I honestly think it is one of the most important things that they have done for me all year. I hope that they will dig into their closets years from now and discover who they were in 2010, what their hopes and dreams for the future were, and are reminded of that amazing time in life when they asked themselves on a daily basis: Who am I?