This activity has students explore the impact that a neighborhood has on the identity of an individual and group of people. Students will create a representation of their own neighborhood that portrays how they view its identity. This process will develop student’s abstraction, communication, and presentation skills. Through personal reflection, they will be challenged to think through how identity of a place affects identity of a people, and how the identity of a people shapes the individual.
How does the shape that we give to our city, in turn, shape us?
I can recognize the diversity of the citizens in my city/community.
I can represent the identity of my neighborhood using an artistic representation.
I can explain how identity of a place affects the identity of the people, and vice versa.
Note: All excerpts listed below can be found in NCDC’s book The Plan of Nashville: Avenues to a Great City
“From Nowhere to Somewhere,” by James Howard Kunstler (pg. 2)
“A Nashville for Everyone,” by Reverend Bill Barnes (pg. 44)
“For Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, We Must Have Cities,” by Carroll William Westfall (pg. 45)
This activity is adaptable to grade levels 5-12. Although the standards above are specific to World Geography, there is potential to connect to literacy and visual arts. While the core themes and concepts about neighborhood identity should remain the same, the flexibility lies in the type of representation that you require of your students. Currently, the directions for the activity leave the type of neighborhood representation up to the students, but please adapt that portion based on your course. For example, their neighborhood representation could be a specific type of art, poem, short story, or thematic map.
When brainstorming the identity of their neighborhood, have them consider the physical health of the people, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardio vascular diesase. Then, have them consider some causes, such as diet, exercise, and air quality.
Identity - what makes a person who they are. For example: role in family, hobbies, religion, background, and physical characteristics are all a part of our identity.
Two representations of your city or county that show different perspectives. If you are in Nashville, here are some recommended videos:
“Identity Brainstorm” (one per student)
“Identity of a Place” Notecatcher (one per student)
“Essential Question Reflection” (one per student)
“Examples” (ready for projection)
Launch: 30 min
Introduction: 15 min
Group Set-up: 15 min
Facilitation: 1 hr 15 min
Presentations: 30 min (3 min presentations per group wtih 1 min feedback recommended)
Closing: 15 min
Total time: 3 hrs
- Handouts (one per student):
- Prepare two representations of your city/county that portray two different perspectives. If you live in Nashville, it is recommended that you use the Youtube videos in the “Materials” section. If you don’t live in Nashville, here are some recommended representations: tourist brochures or websites, iconic images or photographs, public art or graffiti, videos about your city/county, etc.
- Discussion questions ready for display
- “Examples” ready for class display or handout.
- Critique questions ready for display to be used for both example and presentation critique.
- Prepare grouping method.
- Brainstorm guiding questions ready for display.
- Chart paper and markers for each group
- “Essential Question Reflection” handout (1 per student)
This launch is intended to activate student’s thinking about the diversity of communities that make up their city or county, and how the place we live plays an important role in shaping who we are as people.
- Have students work through the “Identity Brainstorm” worksheet where they choose 5 words to define their identity and that of their city/town. Discuss the definition of identity as a class, and let students share out their answers.
- Introduce the “Identity of a Place” notecatcher, and explain that they will be looking at two different representations of their city/county. As you watch, have students fill out the notecatcher. After the videos, have a discussion around the following questions: What did each representation show about your city/county? How did each video express identity (refer back to definition)? Why is it important to recognize the different stories of a community?
- Transition to Activity: As you introduce the activity, make the following key points:
- One city/county can be made up of diverse communities, all of which have important stories.
- The communities we grow up in help make us who we are.
- You will now have the opportunity to represent your community’s identity.
In an effort to inform an outsider about your neighborhood/community, create a representation that portrays its identity. This can be anything creative, such as a song, rap, poem, skit, drawing, collage, map, etc.
1. Introduction: Introduce the above directions, and explain that they will be collaborating with other student’s who live close to them. Then, critically look at the sample projects (provided) using the guiding questions: What do you know about this neighborhood based on this representation? What do you like about this representation? What could be improved about this representation?
2. Grouping: Group students based on the neighborhood that they live in. If your students all live in the same neighborhood due to school zoning, then your grouping can be flexible. If your students are coming from different neighborhoods, here are some recommended methods for grouping them:
- Have students find out which school they are zoned for, and create groups from there.
- Have your students identify their location on a county map. This will take some teacher guidance along with use of mapping technology such as Google Maps or GPS systems. Once everyone is located on the map, group them based on proximity.
- Have students walk around and have conversations with each other about where they live in an effort to find a group that lives close to them. Here are some guiding questions to make their conversations productive: What busy street is closest to you? What school are you zoned for? Which grocery store do you go to?
- Group Roles: Depending on the size of your groups and the level of your students, group roles are recommended for productive work. Here are some recommendations:
- Facilitator - Guides the conversation, and makes sure everyone’s ideas are heard.
- Time Keeper - Makes sure that the group is on track to finish on time.
- Recorder - Records the group’s ideas and plans
- Materials Manager - Responsible for appropriate use and collection of materials.
- Step 1: Brainstorming - Have groups brainstorm what they want to represent about their neighborhood/community based on the following guiding questions: What about your neighborhood makes you proud? What do you enjoy about your neighborhood (examples: parks, friends, good food, culture, etc.)? What makes your neighborhood unique from others?
- Optional Health Focus: Have students consider how the the physical health of the people, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardio vascular diesase, affect the identity of their neighborhood. Then, have them consider some causes, such as diet, exercise, and air quality. Some questions to consider include: What do people do (or not do) for exercise? What food is popular? What is the air and water quality? How do people view our overall health, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases
- Step 2: Planning - Have groups plan out how they will represent the results of their brainstorm. Some representation ideas include image collages, poems, raps/songs, drawings, and essays. They will need to decide what type of representation, and begin rough drafts of their idea.
- Step 3: Creating - Have students create the final representation.
4. Presentations: Let each group present their representation to the class, and have the class critique them. Here are some suggestions for the presentation:
- Presentation: How does this represent your neighborhood? What is the meaning behind your representation? What makes your neighborhood unique?
- Critique: What do you know about this neighborhood based on this representation? What do you like about this representation? What could be improved about this representation?
After presentations, explain to students that they will now think about how their neighborhood identity has affected their own identity. Present the essential question: How does the shape that we give to our city, in turn, shape us? Give students time to reflect on this question by completing the “Essential Question Reflection.” Let students share out from the reflection about how a neighborhood/community impacts the identity of the people.