In 2013, GDS 2nd grade teachers first began a week-long project then-titled “The ME Book: A Book About Identity,” in which students wrote and drew pictures about their heritage, abilities, family structure, beliefs, and traditions. It became clear almost immediately that this was the work our young students needed to be doing: student-centered, skill-building study that built a positive self-image and fostered a greater understanding of—and appreciation for—differences. The Identity Project grew from those humble stapled-construction paper roots to a nearly yearlong study with panels of guest speakers, art projects, videos, exploration of more social identifiers (appearance, gender, interests, and more), and study of the intersections between them, as well as a culminating gallery—with students as guides.
From the beginning, students were challenged to develop their writing with poetry, prose, and family recipes. They grew their creative capacity as well. They developed their presentation presence, listened with open minds, and learned to think critically about ways to make spaces more welcoming to people of all identities.
The first little “ME Books” created nearly ten years ago by our rising seniors are a far cry from the robust and varied gallery presentations the 2nd grade gave us in 2022. How wonderful to see the project evolving and another crop of students continuing to thrive! Congratulations, all!