This lesson emphasizes the notion of "participatory culture," a term coined and described by media scholar Henry Jenkins. It may be useful to become familiar with this notion prior to enacting this activity.

Group Size: Any

Learning Objectives:

Formalisms / Relevant Big Ideas:

Identity: how we see ourselves as readers/writers and how other see us relative to the practices we engage in

Practices: the ways in which we read/write that are part of our everyday lives and are shaped by our social & cultural contexts

Texts: Nearly anything can be considered a text; it’s the act of trying to interpret that thing that makes it a text.

Motive: the purpose, or reason we have for reading/writing. Our motives may affect how we read/write, what we read/write, etc.



Give the students a Think Sheet with the formalisms (see below). Give them 5 minutes to write down their thoughts.

Introduction and Activities

Day 1

To contextualize this activity, discuss the idea that the reading and writing they do for this particular class is just a portion of the reading and writing they do in their everyday lives. You might give the students these questions to write about (on paper, or post them as online discussion questions), and then discuss:

a. Think about the reading you do everyday: what kinds of things do you read? How (what tools do you use?)? Why do you read them?

b. Think about the writing that you do everyday: what kinds of things do you write? How (what tools do you use?)? To whom? Why do you write them?

2. Talk about students’ answers, jotting down on the board/projector in columns/groups, their answers to the following:

a. What kinds of things do you read/write?

i. Introduce the word “texts”; and invite students to think about the fact that though we often think of texts as books, published pieces, and in a formal sense, that the reading/writing we do everyday, formally or informally, are texts

b. How do you read/write (what kinds of tools do you use)?

i. Introduce the word “practices”; invite students to think about the reading and writing that they do everyday as practices

c. Why do you read/write?

i. Introduce the word “motives”; invite students to think about how our motives inform our reading/writing, that these are often social. In other words, our reading/writing practices are social practices


3. Discuss how these things show a lot about who we are, our “identities” as readers/writers.


4. Tell students you’ll show them a little bit more about yourself as a reader/writer. Model your own identity map, showing students the kinds of texts (broadly defined) that you read and the identities associated with them.


5. Handout copies of the identity concept map and ask students to take a few minutes to complete one for themselves.


6. Have the students share their maps in small groups.


7. *If you want to focus this activity on students’ identities and practices in relationship to a specific text or assignment or the class in general, give students another copy of the Identity Concept Map, with the text/assignment/class in the middle (e.g., Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Crucible; the theme “Obedience”; a novel students are reading in lit circles; or W131, American Lit, 9th Grade English, Reading in a Participatory Culture)


8. *Ask the students to identify the identities as readers/writers they are drawing on to read/interact with these texts/themes. Give them 10 minutes to complete the map.


9. *Discuss/share in groups. What do they notice about their maps and those of their peers? What kinds of reading/writing identities and practices are they using to understand/appreciate the text/theme/course? What do they notice about the 2 maps they’ve made? Are there other identities they can use to help them in their classroom reading/writing (e.g., their role in the school play to read The Crucible? Their journal writing to read Huck Finn? Their use of the Internet to read more about an author or book or theme?)


10. *As a class, identify 3 key insights about identities, practices, texts, and motives as they relate to a specific text/theme, or the broader focus/goals of the course


11. *Tell students this activity is the basis for a brief video to share with other classes involved in the project. Brainstorm some ideas: how can we represent these ideas in a short (2 minute) video that will help other classes to understand these ideas about identities, practices, texts, and motives and what we’re doing in this class? Note that other classes will be doing the same thing. Have the students work up an idea in small groups to share with the class (10 minutes).


12. Tell students they are going to create a video about their own identities as a reader/writer. They can choose to focus on one aspect, or several, or a theme. They can get input from the group.


13. As an example, show Jenna’s video in which she talks about herself as a blogger.


[Day 2]

14. Have students write a “script” for their videos, and share those with their groups for feedback. Have students practice reading the script in small groups and then indicate when they’re ready to create their video.


15. Have the students record their videos.


16. Upload the videos.


[Day 3]

17. Ask students to watch the videos created by the other schools/students from other schools.


18. Ask students to answer the following questions on the online discussion forum:

o What struck you as especially interesting about identities and literacy practices (i.e., why and what you read/write) as you watched the videos?

o Based on the videos, how would you describe what it means to be a reader/writer in our culture today?

o How would you define what counts as reading/writing? As texts?

o Imagine you are a sociologist or anthropologist and these videos were your data for a study on teens’ literacy practices. What would your findings be?


19. Give the students the post-activity reflection questions and have them take 10 minutes to complete them. Then have a class discussion.


*Organize around a specific text/theme/the course. To tie in to a specific text, have the students think about the reading/writing they are doing/might do related to that text. Rather than create individual videos, create a class video.


Think Sheet For each of the following words, try to provide a definition, thinking about what they might mean in the context of reading and writing. There are no correct answers; there is no risk in making a good guess. This is just to get you thinking about some of the concepts we’ll be discussing in the next day or two.






Benchmark or Standards:

Reading Comprehension
• 10.2.2 Analysis of Grade-Level-Appropriate Nonfiction and Informational Text: ?Extend - through original analysis, evaluation, and elaboration - ideas presented in primary or secondary sources. (Core Standard)
• 10.2.5 Make reasonable statements and draw conclusions about a text, supporting them with accurate examples. (Core Standard)

Writing: Organization & Focus
• 10. 4. 1 Discuss ideas for writing with classmates, teachers, and other writers and develop drafts alone and collaboratively. (Core Standard)
Listening & Speaking
10.7.7 Make judgments about the ideas under discussion and support those judgments with convincing evidence. (Core Standard)

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