Thursday, 4 October 2018

Story of my Name Writing

Today I'm sharing one of my favourite tasks for building community in the classroom.  Students are able to share an important aspect of themselves (the story of their name) with the class and with me, their teacher.  Through this task we are also working on important skills, like reading comprehension, writing, and reflection.

Day 1

To begin, I asked my students to write any name they wish they had on a sticky note. They then placed it in a mason jar.

I read my class the story "The Name Jar" by Yansook Choi.

We stopped at several points in the story to predict, make connections, infer, and ask questions.  At one point, we paused in the story so that students could journal about the name they wrote down on the sticky note earlier:
- Did they choose their own name? Or another?
- Why?
- If you chose another name, where did you hear that name before?

Day 2

At the end of Day 1, students were given homework.

(Stick around to the bottom of this post for a chance to get your own copy of this sheet.)

I make it very clear, that while names all have meanings, your family may not have chosen your name for that reason.  They might not know the meaning, and you can choose to look it up with your family if you wish.  I also focus a lot on nicknames and your own feelings about your name.  While I've never taught a student in foster care, or one who was adopted, I do think it's important to mention that this could be a touchy task in those situations, so be sure to know your students first, and modify as needed.

Students use the homework task, and the journal write from the previous day, to write "The Story of their Name".  Some possible options to include are:
- who you are named after
- the meaning of your name
- a name you'd rather have
- your feelings toward your name
- nicknames you may have
- the person (or people) who chose your name
- how your name was chosen

This piece of writing is then self, peer, and teacher edited, and a "good" copy is made.

Day 3

I found this excellent step-by-step self-portrait from "Art Projects for Kids".  I modified the task so that instead of drawing the left or right side of their face, they would draw the top half.  

Students find that folding their page into quadrants as she suggests is very helpful.  Under the document camera I demonstrate each step, and students copy, adapting to their own facial features.  Each student gets a mirror to look in to help them personalize.

The final pieces are put on a bulletin board for display.  Students also coloured in a bubble letter version of their names to complete the display.  (I used the font KG Red Hands Outline for this.)

Day 4

Once we've completed the task, the last job is to reflect on our work.  I pulled some elements from our Arts Education curriculum (very relevant regardless of where you teach) for students to self-assess on.  I've used the proficiency scale language our school has moved to for all reporting.

A few students found it helpful to complete their reflection while looking at the finished product on their bulletin board, but most didn't need this.

Want a copy of both my homework and reflection pages? Follow the image or button below to grab your copy.  

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  1. Signed up and still can't access the download. Thumbs down.

    1. Hello! Send me an email at and I can help you out.

  2. Hi, I signed up for the email subscription yet I still can't seem to find the download for the "Story of my Name" homework. Can you help?

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  4. Love your page...i signed up but can't get the download for "Story of My Name" can you help you?

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  5. Do you have a French version of this?

    1. Hi. I'm sorry, but I don't at this time.

  6. Hi there. Interested in story of my name homework please.

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  8. Hello, I love this activity! Do you happen to have a Self-Assessment or Rubric for the writing portion of the assignment?

    1. I used the BC performance scale for personal writing.