What’s in a Name?

I had to take a multicultural course as part of the credential program at California State University, Long Beach (#gobeach). In that class, we read the book The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. It was an interesting read and as a bibliophile, I naturally kept the book as I figured at some point, I’d go back and reread it.

I find it funny how the universe seems to circle back.

When looking at lesson ideas for my student blogs on the Facing History site, I came across a lesson that I think would be the perfect first day of school activity and one that would serve as the starting point for their blogging project. The lesson is called What Shapes Your Identity? This lesson has students reading an excerpt from Cisneros’ book called “My Name” which chronicles the story and feelings about what one’s name truly means. I found the excerpt from the book online and a couple of writing prompts from two different teachers. While I don’t know that I would have students answer all of the prompts, I think that giving them a few of these would be a good segue to getting them to think about their cultural identity. I was also thinking that this might be a great way to connect school and home because several of the questions require students to ask their parents about the origin of their name (Borba, 2009; Lam, 2013).

A springboard assignment is a Bio-Poem which has students creating a structured poem about their identity (also from the Facing History website). I’m always looking for fun things to do on the first day of school and I think this lesson ties together my goals of developing a culturally responsive learning environment and incorporating student blogging. The bio-poem is something that students can include on their About Me page and if they are so inclined, they can do their first blog post on one of the writing prompts or they could simply do a reflection about this activity.

Though I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do on the first day of school in August, I do know that I’ll be keeping this as one of the front-runners. Meanwhile, enjoy my bio-poem:

Paper.JHU Sketchnotes.6.png


Borba, M. (2009). Caring closes the language-learning gap. Phi Delta Kappan, 90, 681–685. doi:10.1177/003172170909000915

Lam, W. S. E. (2013). What immigrant students can teach us about new media literacy. Phi Delta Kappan, 94, 62–65. doi:10.1177/003172171209400416

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