Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To make students aware of themselves
  • To promote students' appreciation of their individuality, ethnicity, and cultural heritage
  • To foster the integration of language arts skills

  • Develop an awareness of self
  • Integrate language arts skills
  • Use knowledge and inference skills
  • Enhance writing skills

  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
  • Character Building

Each student will write a self-description without names on a sheet of paper. Emphasize that the students are to concentrate on their positive characteristics. The descriptions should include physical attributes such as color of eyes, hair, skin, height, and weight. Other non-physical attributes should also be included, for example, loves to play jokes on friends, always smiling, very helpful, never late for school, is unselfish, and plays fair.

The students' self-descriptions are to be folded and placed in a box or bag. Have a student, one at a time select a folded sheet from the box or bag and read the descriptions to the class. The class will then try to guess who the mystery person is. This process should be repeated until all slips of paper have been drawn.

As each person is correctly identified, discuss how other students were able to determine the correct identity. Again, keep the students focused on positive traits.

Next, pair the class off. If numbers are uneven, place students in threes. This time, have them write positive descriptions about their peers and take turns sharing with each other.

Ask students to describe how they felt as their friends or partners read all the nice things about them. Also ask them to compare statements written about themselves with those their teammates had written about them. Ask if the two were pretty much the same descriptions or if people saw them differently than they saw themselves.

Have a dialogue centered around how we perceive ourselves and how others sometimes see us differently. Have the students discuss which is more important to them, what others see or think about them or what they see and think about themselves. Ask them to provide a rationale for their answers.

  • How did students demonstrate the ability to perform a self-assessment?

  • Did students seem to write an accurate description of themselves? How was this exhibited?

  • In the activity of students describing each other, how did they display kindness, empathy, and caring feelings for classmates?

  • How did students exhibit improvement in writing and thinking skills?


Excerpted from Beyond Rhetoric and Rainbows: A Journey to the Place Where Learning Lives ©1996 University of Illinois Extension.