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Running head: EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT

“I am a Story”

Exploring Ethnic-Racial Identity Development

Emily Lemons

Lewis & Clark College

Author’s Note

This paper was created on April 10, 2018 for SCED 516 with Professor Holly Altiero.
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“I am a Story”

Exploring Ethnic-Racial Identity Development

Introduction

According to the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors for Student Success: K-12 College- and

Career-Readiness Standards for Every Student, the role of a school counselor is designed to

support all students in developing a mindset of positive identity of the whole self and developing

behaviors that create equitable relationships with other students by developing social skills that

demonstrate empathy and teamwork (American School Counselor Association, 2014). The

concept of “the whole self” is framed by a student’s culture, gender, race, ethnicity, age, social

class, and ability/disability, and these components effect the mental, social/emotional, and

physical health of a student. School counselors must advocate for the students and address the

learning barriers in the school setting regarding the concepts above. However, systemic barriers

in the school culture can make it difficult to adequately address race, ethnicity, and culture, and

other aspects of “the whole self”, resulting in a discrepancy of equitable practices.

In our current education systems, the influence of our dominant culture is creating a long-

term equity issue for students. When implicit-biases from educators are unexplored, the identity

development of a student is affected, especially when pertaining on ethnicity and race. To

advocate for all identities’ to be represented and celebrated in education, it is important that

conversations around race, ethnicity, and culture begin at a primary level. In order to integrate

these conversations into classrooms, teacher buy-in will be important. Understanding the

influence of contemporary racism will be important for broaching conversations about racial

identity. The equity issues for Gilbert Heights elementary are influenced by a gap in school wide

curriculums; there is a lack of focus on a positive identity development for students of color,
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specifically a focus of ethnic-racial identity development. This issue is being explored by the

Gilbert Heights Equity Team as they see the barrier as correlated to the dominant culture

assimilation in the education system. The purpose of this action research to is find data that

supports Gilbert Height’s Equity Team as they plan and implement school wide curriculum

exploring ethnic-racial identity as a way to encourage a positive identity development for all

students. For the purpose of this action research topic, a curriculum will be created to explore

ethnic-racial identity development for one 1st grade classroom and one 5th grade classroom. The

action research question that will guide this research is: How will guidance lessons impact the

Ethnic-Racial Identity Development of 1st and 5th grade students at Gilbert Heights Elementary?

The following literature reviews explain why it is important for students to begin

developing and exploring their ethnic-racial identity at an early age, how our current education

systems play a role in contemporary racism, and the advocacy role of a school counselor in

addressing this equity issue.

Literature Review

Importance of Ethnic-Racial Identity Development

It is important for students to understand and celebrate their own cultural identity because

it allows them to thrive in a safe school environment. It is important that a school create a sense

of belonging and encourage the concept of personal identity to promote social inclusion among

all students (Chorro, Fernandez, & Corbí, 2017). Research shows that a key factor in developing

an individual’s racial identification is to encourage a sense of “pride in one’s racial and cultural

identity” (Benedetto & Olisky, 2001, p1). Students will develop a positive concept of their whole

self in a school that creates an environment where ethnic-racial identity is supported and

celebrated.
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In the journal article A Preliminary Analysis of Associations Among Ethnic–Racial

Socialization, Ethnic Discrimination, and Ethnic Identity Among Urban Sixth Graders, the

research from Deborah Rivas-Drake, Diane Hughes, and Niobe Way (2009) shows that early

exposure to the topic of racial identity increases positive psychological outcomes in children

when they develop a strong ethnic identity construct. Early exposure within the education system

begins as early as kindergarten, and it begins by introducing the vocabulary that communicate

the constructs of identity. The authors explain it can be difficult to integrate this perspective in

our systems that are run by dominant culture’s standards. Therefore, the advocacy of a school

counselor will need to be supported school wide.

School counselors need to advocate for the importance and the benefits of early exposure

to ethnic-racial identity development for students within their practice. In the journal article, The

Racial/Ethnic Composition of Elementary Schools and Young Children’s Academic and

Socioemotional Functioning, professors Aprile D. Benner and Robert Crosnoe (2011)

demonstrated the correlation between racial/ethnic diversity and the development of

socioemotional and academics in elementary students. Benner and Crosnoe describe that ever

since the ruling of Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, the importance of representation of

racial diversity in the education system is associated with student outcomes (Benner & Crosnoe,

2011). These outcomes create positive interracial attitudes for young children and are a result of

integration of racial identity development in schools for all students, but specifically for the

ethnic-racial development of students of color (Benner & Crosnoe, 2011). The article brings up

the concept of concept of “disequilibrium” by child development theorist Jean Piaget (1983) and

emphasizes the importance of children working through everyday contradictions as it expands

their intellectual capacity and exposes their worldview to more diverse perspectives (Benner &
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Crosnoe, 2011). Therefore, it is important to create opportunities that educate a child on how to

express positive ethnic-racial identities within a school’s climate and culture. Lack of a positive

ethnic-racial identity development in education systems can further perpetuate the assimilation of

the dominant culture. This assimilation does not generate a positive portrayal of the importance

of ethnic-racial identity development for all students; this is a form of contemporary racism.

Contemporary Racism in Education

When educators disregard the prominence of race, the result can function as a buffer that

disguises hidden biases (Patton & Day-Vines, 2005). Throughout history, the dominant culture

has positioned racial power over marginalized populations. Within education today, it is perilous

to break down these barriers of the dominant culture. This assimilation deemphasizes the

importance of ethnic-racial identity development for K-12 students. It is the responsibility of

educators to acknowledge how their personal and cultural values impact their cultural

responsiveness in their individual teaching practices (White, Zion, Kozleski, & Fulton, 2005).

Educators are often White and come from middle class backgrounds, which makes them a part of

the dominant culture (White, Zion, Kozleski, and Fulton, 2005). Because their culture fits within

the prevailing values, opinions, assumptions, belief systems, behavior, and expectations within

education, these educators are often unaware of their implicit biases (White, Zion, Kozleski, and

Fulton, 2005).

In the journal article Cultural Identity and Education: A Critical Race Perspective,

associate professor Theodorea Regina Berry and public-school teacher Matthew Reese Candis

(2013) reveal potential cultural gaps between educators of the dominant culture and students and

how implicit biases of dominant culture worsen culturally responsive practices within the school
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setting (Berry & Candis, 2013). Although the article’s topic focuses on racial identity, Berry and

Candis also recognize how culture, gender, race, ethnicity, age, social class, and ability/disability

influence the development of a positive identity for students (Berry & Candis, 2013). The article

goes on to discuss the importance of defining terms like cultural identity, cultural experience,

and critical race theory. These definitions impact the effectiveness of educating staff, students,

and community members within a school community (Berry & Candis, 2013).

These topics are critical because they targeting the root of contemporary racism in

education. Berry and Candis’ research shows that when this root is ignored, it greatly impacts the

identity development, socioemotional growth, and academic learning experiences of students. In

order to expose this root, the article supports that a school counselor will need to partner with

staff in teaching students the vocabulary of their cultural identity and experience.

The Role of a School Counselor in Cultural Humility & Broaching

It is important that a school counselor understands their role when entering into topics

about ethnicity and race with staff and students. This requires a level of Cultural Humility, which

holds space for a professional expertise yet simultaneously leaves room for thoughts of what

could be missing from what is being presented or asked of an individual—what is missing from

the whole picture (Owen, Tao, Drinane, Hook, Davis, & Kune, 2016). When a school counselor

is being culturally humble, they look for moments and find opportunity to address the cultural

heritage of a student rather than ignoring it (Owens et al., 2016).

In the journal article Broaching the subjects of race, ethnicity, and culture during the

counseling process, authors Day-Vines, Wood, Grothaus, Craigen, Holman, Dotson-Blake, and

Douglass (2007) discuss that it is the counselor's responsibility to consider how race and other

sociopolitical factors impact and influence a student’s experience in the counseling office and in
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the school building. They argue that if a school counselor does not consider the race and

representation issues that minority group members experience, it will be difficult to recognize the

racism that is embedded in these encounters (Day-Vines et al., 2007). The authors describe the

discrepancy between predominantly white counselors and the diverse student population which,

“creates the potential for cultural schisms during the counseling process, especially given that

counseling professionals often rely on theories, ideologies, and techniques that are not always

congruent with the client’s worldview” (Day-Vines et al., 2007, p401). The article places

responsibility on the school/school counselor to educate themselves and reflect on their practice.

In the school setting, it is essential that school counselors are able to define and teach ethnic-

racial identity vocabulary to students and staff. Disarming racial labels and understanding the

daily barriers that prevent a student from developing a healthy sense of student’s ethnic-racial

identity is what encompasses equitable practices.

School Profile

According to the report card from the Oregon Department of Education (2016), the

Gilbert Heights Elementary student demographics include a total enrollment of 616 K-5th grade

students, in which 1% of the students were American Indian/Alaskan Native; 2% Native

Hawaiian/Pacific Islander; 7% Multi-Racial; 11% Black/African American; 19% Asian; 22%

Hispanic/Latino; and 39% White (ODE, 2016). Over half (73%) the student population is

economically disadvantaged, 86.2% are regular attenders, 16.4% are mobile students, 44% are

English language learners while 24 different languages are spoken (ODE, 2016). School

characteristics include a teaching staff of 29: 9 with bachelors, 20 with masters, and the median

class size is 26 students compared to the state median number of 24 (ODE, 2016). Community

data shows that the population of the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood was 25,756 in 2015
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(city-data.com, 2015). The neighborhood’s average home price was $388, 477

(Point2homes.com, 2014), average household income was $49, 935 and the median amount for

rent was $847 for a 1 bedroom apartment (City-Data.com, 2015).

Due to the multicultural demographic of the school population, one equity issue at this

school involves creating a school culture that promotes positive ethnic-racial identity

development. For students, normalizing and destigmatizing race talks will need to take place in

classrooms. Talking about ethnic-racial identity early and often will influence a child’s positive

identity development of their concept of “the whole self” in the future. For staff, examining

implicit biases and educating and informing through professional development trainings will

help to create a more inclusive culture that promotes positive identity development.

Proposed Solutions

The proposed solutions to strengthen support for ethnic-racial identity development at

Gilbert Heights Elementary will be school counseling guidance lessons. The lesson series will be

adapted from two existing curriculums: Children’s Emerging Identities: RACE by Kelly J. Cutler

(2016), and Circle of Voices, prepared by Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program and

Oregon Children’s Theater (2016). Cutler’s lessons focus on acquiring ethnic-racial identity

vocabulary, address the development of belonging to an individuals’ ethnic-racial identity, and

creating a classroom community where students can build a sense of safety and comfortability to

participate in conversations about race. The Circle of Voices lessons focus on the development of

empathy and understanding. Students will explore their differences, similarities, and

contributions of cultures, and reflect on their discoveries through an art project reflection.

The target group will be 1st and 5th graders, and the lessons will be taught in 2

classrooms. Two classrooms will be co-taught with teachers who understand this equity issue in
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the school. In total, 54 students will be taught ethnic-racial development lessons. The proposed

length will be 6 guidance lessons running for 40 minutes each. The intervention outcome goals

are for students to create an identity statement, to gain ethnic-racial identity vocabulary, and to

create an art project reflecting on identity, race, and ethnicity. Below are tables that provide the

data methods plan and a timeline for the action research project.

Data (Gathering and Analyzing) Methods Plan

Collection Method Information Gathered Target Population Procedures

Similarities and 1st and 5th grade students Students will create an
differences of how in two classrooms, identity statement:
Qualitative Data students see their number of students:
identity 1st- 26 students “I identify as (race) and
5th- 28 students my skin color is (color
name), and here is my
story.”

Application and learning 1st grade students in one 1st- I will do a pre/post
Knowledge and of ethnic-racial classroom: survey on vocab terms
Learning Outcome Data vocabulary 1st- 26 students for 10 students (at
random)

Answers in regards to All 1st and 5th grade I will send different pre-
comfort, belonging, and teachers survey forms to teachers
Questionnaire/Survey affirmation with the All 5th grade students in before the lessons using
topic of Ethnic-Racial one classroom: Google Forms
Identity Development at 5th- 28 students (Appendix I). I will
GH create pre & post
surveys for 5th graders

Teacher 1st and 5th grade teacher I will ask participating


Interview feedback/responses after in two classrooms teachers
the lessons series is reflection/feedback
completed questions after the lesson
series
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Timeline

Timeline Activity Effort Budget (Time and Expenses)

November 2017 *Meet with Equity Team *Gather information about *Equity Team Meeting (60
previous curriculum on mins)
*Meet with Principal “Positive Identity
Development” *Principal Meeting (10 mins)

*Ask which teachers are *N/A Expenses


recommended for co-
teaching

December 2017 *Meet with 1st and 5th *Find dates for lessons with *Teacher meeting (25 mins)
grade co-teachers co-teachers, discuss content
and ask questions *Start creating list of supplies
for lessons
*Finalize lesson plans
(Appendix II & III) for 1st *Expenses (on Amazon):
and 5th grade classrooms
before January using $11.85 Multi-cultural skin color
previous curriculums construction paper (150 sheets)
provided by Equity Team
$5.95 Small Hand Multi-cultural
cut out

$25.32 Books for lessons (4)

$32.31 Crayola Multi-Cultural


crayons, markers, colored
pencils

January 2018 *Pre-Survey for (9) 1st *Conducted 5 lessons with *Pre-survey (20 mins)
graders 1st graders
*Each lesson (40 mins x 5 =
*Co-teaching 1st grade *Took notes after each approx. 3.5 hours)
lessons lesson of what worked,
what could be improved *Post-survey (10 mins)
*Post-Survey for 1st
graders *Co-teacher gave insights *Teacher Interview (10 mins)
and suggestions during and
*Interview with 1st grade after lessons *Expenses:
teacher post-lessons
$13.00 FedEx Kinkos Skin tone
color chart scan/PDF file (for
duplication)

February 2018 *Co-teaching 5th grade *Conducted 6 lessons with *Pre-survey (15 mins)
lessons 5th graders
*Each lesson (45 mins x 6 =
*Took notes after each approx. 7 hours)
lesson of what worked,
what could be improved *Post-survey (10 mins)
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*Co-teacher gave insights *Teacher Interview (15 mins)


and suggestions during and
after lessons *Expenses: N/A

March 2018 *Gathering/Organizing *Inputting data and creating *Expenses: Time (25 hours)
Data charts for AR outcomes

April 2018 *Finalizing report before *Advisory Panel Presentation


final presentations to (20 mins)
SCED 516 and Equity
Team (Advisory Panel) *Total Expenses: $88.43 out of
pocket; $760 Approx. of hourly
wage

Outcomes
First Grade
Qualitative Data- 1st grade

For my first-grade project outcomes, I used three data collection methods. My first

method was qualitative which overviewed the similarities and differences of the students’

identity statements. Due the developmental stage of the first graders, it was difficult to get the

concept of race established within the 5 lessons. Instead of using race as part of the identity

statement, the teacher and I decided that using their first name would complement the project just

as well, as a first name is a part of a person’s identity as well. Due to the confidential nature of

their names, I did not include the similarities or differences of this portion as it was irrelevant.

Below is a graph that displays the final skin color shades students selected for themselves. Out of

26 students, (8) of the students selected “Peachy” as their skin tone, (4) selected Pink, (3)

selected Rose, (3) selected Peanut Butter, (1) French Toast, (1) Coffee, (1) Almond, and (1)

selected the skin color shade of Toast. This outcome was particularly puzzling to both the

teacher and I as the majority of the class come from Hispanic//Latino and Asian race/ethnicity

categories. It perhaps revealed the influence of the dominant cultural media valuing lighter skin

tones, represented as more desirable over darker skin tones—even by 1st graders.
Running head: EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT

Knowledge and Learning Outcome Data- 1st Grade

My second data collection method was a knowledge and learning outcome. I randomly

selected 10 students and ask questions pre and post about their knowledge of identity, race, and

their skin shade color. As the lessons progressed, it became obvious that the concept of race was

not making since to the students. My pre and post data questions about race became invalid and I

focused on the outcome of the skin color shade. Below is a table that contrasts the 10 randomly

selected students on the skin color shades they selected before the lesson series and after. This

data is inconclusive of how it impacted 1st grade students other than exposing them to new skin

color shade vocabulary terms.

Teacher Post-Interview- 1st Grade

My third data collection method was a teacher interview. I asked five questions about the

effectiveness, significance, impact, and areas for improvement about the lesson series. The

teacher shared that this project was effective and significant as it allowed students to think about

who they are, their skin color, and brought up ideas they have not had discussions about. She was

excited about students hopefully making connections in an upcoming social justice unit. The

poster of different skin color shades helped expand the vocabulary of skin color with specific

shades beyond white, black, and brown. Overall, the teacher said the art project was the most

impactful portion of the lessons as it allowed for students to “tell their story”. When tracing their
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hand and picking a skin color, students took pride in their work. If more time, a way to improve

this project would be sharing more about their identity: digging into family and traditions,

expanding on stories, who they are, and where they come from.

Fifth Grade

Questionnaire/Survey- 5th Grade (Appendix I)

For my fifth-grade project outcomes, I used three different data collection methods. The

first and last method was a Google forms survey. The survey asked students about their

knowledge of topics of identity, race, and ethnicity, as well as how comfortable they would be

explaining each term to another person. Students were also asked to select which race category

they identified with and write in the color of the skin shade.

The other pre and post survey questions rated students’ comfortability of explaining the

words identity, race, and ethnicity on a scale of 1-5 (5 representing highest comfortability). The

post data reflects an increase in knowledge of the ethnic-racial identity vocabulary words. For

identity, most students showed an increase from 12(42.9%) students in the pre-survey, and

17(63%) students selecting a high “5” on the post survey. For race, 14(50%) students selected

“5” on the pre-survey, and 20(74.1%) selected “5” on the post survey. Overall, the vocabulary

term ethnicity had the largest increase, moving from 1(3.6%) student selecting “4” on the pre-

survey to 13 (48.1%) students on the post survey. The “5” category remained a smaller

percentage of 6(22%) students, showing that there is room for growth in the comfortability of

explaining this term.

Qualitative Data- 5th Grade (Appendix I)

For the second method of data collection, I used the qualitative data from the post survey.

Students created an identity statements in their art projects which provided an informed answer
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about their identified race and skin color on the post survey. The highest race/ethnicity categories

selected were White (10 students), Asian (5), Black/African American (3), and the rest selected

variations of race and ethnicity combined (7). For skin color shades, 20 different colors were

select, the highest number being Beige and Peachy (3 students each); Copper, Peach, Rose, Tan,

and White as the second highest colors (2 students each). The rest of the students selected skin

color shades of Bronze, Caramel, Coffee, Honey, Light Brown, Mocha, Pale, Peanut Butter,

Pink, and Toffee (1 student for each).

Teacher Post-Interview-5th Grade

My third data collection method was a teacher interview. I asked five questions about the

effectiveness, significance, impact, and areas for improvement about the lesson series. Overall,

the teacher said the project was both effective and significant; it opened up dialogue and resolved

previous misconceptions about race/race issues. She shared that students now have confidence

in the language to talk about racial issues because of the vocabulary foundation. The lessons

gave permission for class to bring attention to topics like being a teacher of color, having

teachers that look like them, it helped to create a platform to connect with her students racially.

The impact of art component stood out the most. Students applying their knowledge of all the

lesson components created a valuable impact so students could share their stories successfully.

Ways to improve these lessons would be adding more in depth/specific race issues topics. She

shared that the 5th graders, especially the 5th graders in this population she serves, can handle

deeper conversation. If more time, tying in historical examples, giving them something to attach

the learning to was another recommendation.


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Conclusion

Overall, the impact of the guidance lessons on Ethnic-Racial Identity Development

showed areas of growth, confidence, and pride for students. The lessons revealed that teaching

vocabulary around ethnic-racial identity is meaningful for students; it enhanced and strengthened

their identity development. In the future, I hope students at Gilbert Heights Elementary will

continue to be impacted by these lessons, changing the way they are influenced by the dominant

culture messages found at school. As Gilbert Heights Elementary currently has a dominance of

White educators, providing this type of curriculum could help students find racial representation

within themselves, with other students in the school, and help all students to celebrate and

recognize different cultural identities outside of the dominant culture. These outcomes will be

presented to the Equity Team to inform their future schoolwide curriculum of positive identity

development. I hope students and staff will continue to create a story where valuing the

uniqueness of ethnic-racial identity is represented in the school culture and climate, and spreads

to the community surrounding them for years to come.


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References

American School Counselor Association (2014). ASCA mindsets & behaviors for student

success: K-12 college- and career-readiness standards for every student. Alexandria,

VA: Author.

Benedetto, A. E., & Olisky, T. (2001). Biracial youth: the role of the school counselor in racial
identity development. New Haven, CT: Southern Connecticut State University.
Benner, A. D., & Crosnoe, R. (2011). The racial/ethnic composition of elementary schools and

young children’s academic and socioemotional functioning. American Educational

Research Journal, 48 (3), 621-646. Doi: 10.3102/0002831210384838

Berry, T. R., & Candis, M. R. (2013). Cultural identity and education: a critical race perspective.

Educational Foundations, 27(3/4), 43-64.

City-Data.com. (2015). Powellhurst-gilbert neighborhood. Retrieved November 15, 2017 from


http://www.city-data.com/neighborhood/Powellhurst-Gilbert-Portland-OR.html
Chorro, E., Fernandez, M. A., Corbí, R. G. (2017). Happiness and Values in the formation of
personal identity in students of the fifth grade and sixth grade at primary school.
Universal Journal of Educational Research, 5(5): 881-890.
Cutler, K.J. (2016). Emerging children’s identity: RACE. Portland, OR: Portland State
University.

Day‐Vines, N. L., Wood, S. M., Grothaus, T., Craigen, L., Holman, A., Dotson‐Blake, K., &

Douglass, M. J. (2007). Broaching the subjects of race, ethnicity, and culture during the

counseling process. Journal of Counseling & Development, 85(4), 401-409.

Kaiser Permanente’s Educational Theatre Program. (2016). Circle of voices. Retrieved

October 15, 2017 from http://www.etpnorthwest.org/programs/

McCullough, R. (2017). Cultural humility & broaching. [PowerPoint Slides]. Portland, OR:

Lewis & Clark College.


EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT 17

Oregon Department of Education. (2016). Gilbert heights elementary school report card.
Retrieved from http://www.ode.state.or.us/data/reportcard/reports.aspx

Owen, J., Tao, K. W., Drinane, J. M., Hook, J., Davis, D. E., & Kune, N. F. (2016). Client

perceptions of therapists’ multicultural orientation: Cultural (missed) opportunities and

cultural humility. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 47(1), 30-37.

doi:10.1037/pro0000046

Patton, J., & Day-Vines, N. (2005). A curriculum and pedagogy for cultural competence:

Strategies to guide the training of special and general education teachers. Richmond,
VA: Department of Education.

Point2homes.com. (2014). Powellhurst-gilbert demographics. Retrieved from

https://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/OR/Portland/Powellhurst-Gilbert

Demographics.html

Rivas-Drake, D., Hughes, D., & Way, N. (2009). A preliminary analysis of associations among

ethnic-racial socialization, ethnic discrimination, and ethnic identity among urban sixth

graders. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 19(3), 558-584.

White, K.K., Zion, S., Kozleski, E., and Fulton, M.L. (2005). Cultural identity and teaching.

National Institute for Urban School Improvement. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University.
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Appendix

I. Action Research Project Pre-Survey (All 1st and 5th grade teachers)
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5th Grade Student Pre& Post Survey Results:


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II. Primary “I am a Story” Lesson Plans

“I am a story”

Exploring Ethnic-Racial Identity Development

Adapted from Kelly J. Cutler’s K-2nd “Children’s Emerging Identities: RACE”

Number of Lessons Target Group Time Required


5 K-2nd Grade 40 mins each lesson

Lesson #1- What is Race?

Target Age: 1st Grade

Time Required: 40 mins

Equipment & Materials: PowerPoint/Poster that defines Race, lists racial categories, lists skin color adjectives with
color swatch examples, and Book Colors of Us by Karen Katz

Procedures:

 Open with Cultural Humility statement:

o Discussion of sensitive topics will come up in these lessons

o Create community agreements: respect is crucial, curiosity is encouraged

 Define Race with the class

o Race is one way to group/divide humans based on skin color.


 Definitions from: http://www.tolerance.org/lesson/looking-race-and-racial-identity-
through-critical-literacy-c
o List racial categories
 The Census Bureau defines race as a person’s self-identification with one or more
social groups.
 The U.S. Census Bureau must adhere to the 1997 Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) standards on race and ethnicity which guide the Census Bureau in classifying
written responses to the race question. OMB permits the Census Bureau to also use a
sixth category - Some Other Race. Respondents may report more than one race:
 White – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle
East, or North Africa.
 Black or African American – A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups
of Africa.
 American Indian or Alaska Native – A person having origins in any of the original
peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains
tribal affiliation or community attachment.
 Asian – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast
Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan,
Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
 Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander – A person having origins in any of the
original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
 Some Other Race:
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 Hispanic/Latino American- A person having origins of Cuban, Mexican,


Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture regardless of
race.
 (https://www.census.gov/mso/www/training/pdf/race-ethnicity-onepager.pdf ,
https://www.census.gov/glossary/#term_Race )
o For example, “I identify as White, but is my skin color actually white?”
o Show examples of skin color adjectives: cinnamon, french toast, tan, cocoa, sand, chocolate,
peanut butter, peachy, honey, butterscotch, golden, bronze, amber, ginger, chili powder, tawny,
coffee, ebony, toffee, creamy, ivory, copper, pink, rose, and almond

 Read Aloud- The Colors of Us by Karen Katz

 Discussion of book:

o When done reading, ask the students to share with their neighbor a few key vocabulary words they
heard that could describe skin colors.

o Call on a few students to share and discuss text.


o Show students to written vocabulary words that match the key words in story with sample paint
colors (Display for students to see).

Lesson #2- How do we get our skin color?

Target Age: 1st Grade

Time Required: 40 mins

Equipment & Materials: PowerPoint/Poster that shows the 3 ways we get skin color, lists skin color adjectives with
color swatch examples, and Book Read Skin Again by bell hooks, example of “I am a Story” art project, and Identity
Statement sentence stem.

Procedures:

 How do we get our skin color?

o 3 ways: family and ancestors, the sun, and melanin.

o Melanin: The pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Dark-skinned people
have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people have. Melanin is produced by cells
called melanocytes. It provides some protection again skin damage from the sun, and the
melanocytes increase their production of melanin in response to sun exposure. Freckles,
which occur in people of all races, are small, concentrated areas of increased melanin
production. (https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4340)
o https://youtu.be/gEQYdi3ZvQg Why do we have different skin colors?

 pause at :21, end at :32.

o https://youtu.be/_r4c2NT4naQ the science of skin color – Angela Koine Flynn (4:53) *LONGEST
BUT MOST ACCURATE (pause at 1:22, skip to 2:55, pause at 3:07, play to finish at 4:00)
o Show examples of skin color adjectives again: cinnamon, french toast, tan, cocoa, sand,
chocolate, peanut butter, peachy, honey, butterscotch, golden, bronze, amber, ginger, chili
powder, tawny, coffee, ebony, toffee, creamy, ivory, copper, pink, rose, and almond

 Read aloud- Shades of People by Shelly Rotner. Or Read Skin Again by bell hooks
 Looking for:
EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT 23

o vocabulary that describes skin color- list examples with colors

o The other form of identity: the things that are inside us, that tell our story

Lesson #3- Tell my Story

Target Age: 1st Grade

Time Required: 40 mins

Equipment & Materials: List of skin color adjectives with color swatch examples, example of “I am a Story” art
project, Identity Statement sentence stem. Glue sticks, scissors, markers/pencils/crayons, and skin color tone
construction paper.

Procedures:

 Introduce “I am a story” Art Project: drawing/collage

 Represents ethnic-racial identity; includes Identity Statement.

 Show example / Select a skin color paper for project and glue on Identity Statement sentence stem: “I
identify as (race), my skin color is (color name), and here is my story…

 Begin working on “I am a story” Art Project: drawing/collage


 Create Identity Statement: “I identify as (race), my skin color is (color name), and here is my story…”
 Write “I am a story” in center of hand cut out of skin tone construction paper (or somewhere on project).
 Ideas of what elements of “your story” to include in project:

o Favorite color/animal/plant/music, etc.

o Who/How many people are in your family (pets included!)

o What are my strengths/ Things I like about myself?

o ABC’s of You: Write an acrostic poem of your name

 Discussion: These are things people would need to get to know about you, they could not be figured out
just by knowing your race/ethnic-racial identity

Lesson #4- Tell my Story Cont.

Target Age: 1st Grade

Time Required: 40 mins

Equipment & Materials: List of skin color adjectives with color swatch examples, example of “I am a Story” art
project, Identity Statement sentence stem. Glue sticks, scissors, markers/pencils/crayons, and skin color tone
construction paper.

Procedures:
EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT 24

 Continue working on “I am a story” Art Project: drawing/collage

 Finish by the end of this lesson

Lesson #5- Share my Story (If possible- the next day after lesson #4)

Target Age: 1st Grade

Time Required: 40 mins

Equipment & Materials: Finished “I am a Story” Art Project

Procedures:

 Community Circle / Share and Tell


o each student has opportunity to share their art work
EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT 25

III. Intermediate “I am a Story” Lesson Plans

“I am a story”

Exploring Ethnic-Racial Identity Development

Adapted from Kelly J. Cutler’s K-2nd “Children’s Emerging Identities: RACE”


&
Kaiser and Oregon Children’s Theater’s “Circle of Voices”

Number of Lessons Target Group Time Required


5 3rd-5th Grade 40 mins each lesson

Lesson #1- What is Identity/Race?

Target Age: 5th Grade

Time Required: 45 mins

Equipment & Materials: PowerPoint/Poster that defines Race, lists racial categories, lists skin color adjectives with
color swatch examples, Book Let’s talk about Race by Julius Lester and/or Tan to Tamarind by Malathi Michelle
Iyengar, and poster paper with marker.

Procedures:

 Open with Cultural Humility statement:

o Discussion of sensitive topics will come up in these lessons

o Create community agreements: respect is crucial, curiosity is encouraged

 Define Identity with the class

o Identity (noun): the set of qualities and beliefs that make one person or group different from
others: individuality.
o In psychology, identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a
person (self-identity) or group (particular social category or social group).

 Define Race with the class

o Race is one way to divide humans into groups based on skin color.
 Definitions from: http://www.tolerance.org/lesson/looking-race-and-racial-identity-
through-critical-literacy-c
o A person can identify with one or more than one Race!!!!
o List racial categories
 The Census Bureau defines race as a person’s self-identification with one or more
social groups.
 The U.S. Census Bureau must adhere to the 1997 Office of Management and Budget
(OMB) standards on race and ethnicity which guide the Census Bureau in classifying
written responses to the race question. OMB permits the Census Bureau to also use a
sixth category - Some Other Race. Respondents may report more than one race:
 White – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle
East, or North Africa.
EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT 26

Black or African American – A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups
of Africa.
 American Indian or Alaska Native – A person having origins in any of the original
peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains
tribal affiliation or community attachment.
 Asian – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast
Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan,
Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.
 Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander – A person having origins in any of the
original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.
 Some Other Race:
 Hispanic/Latino American- A person having origins of Cuban, Mexican,
Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Spanish culture regardless of
race.
 (https://www.census.gov/mso/www/training/pdf/race-ethnicity-onepager.pdf ,
https://www.census.gov/glossary/#term_Race )
 Read Aloud- Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester

 Discussion of book:

 What does “I am a story” mean to you after reading this book? Pair and share.

 How does “I am a story” apply to the definition of Race: Race is one way to divide
humans into groups based on skin color / The Census Bureau defines race as a
person’s self-identification with one or more social groups.
o Could people know who I am just by knowing your race/racial identity? What would others
actually need to get to know about you?

 Start a group feeling / reflection chart- end each class in community circle, write reflection words from
students on poster and exit lesson with the sound of a chime

Lesson #2- What is Ethnicity?

Target Age: 5th Grade

Time Required: 45 mins

Equipment & Materials: PowerPoint/Poster that shows the 3 ways we get skin color, lists skin color adjectives with
color swatch examples, and Book Let’s talk about Race, Julius Lester or Skin Again by bell hooks, example of “I am
a Story” art project, and Identity Statement sentence stem.

Procedures:

 Define Ethnicity with the class:

 Ethnicity means a shared cultural heritage. In short, race is based on biology, while
ethnicity is based on culture.

o If asked to define further:

 Ethnicity = Of or relating to groups of people with common characteristics and


customs. You can identify ethnically as Irish and Polish, but you have to be
essentially either Black or White
 Culture = the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or
time: a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.
EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT 27

 Nationality = Your nationality is the country you come from: American,


Canadian, and Russian are all nationalities. Everyone has a gender, race, sexual
orientation...and a nationality. A person's nationality is where they are a legal
citizen, usually in the country where they were born.

 Create Identity Statement: “I identify as (race/ethnicity), my skin color is (color name), and here is my
story…”
 Discussion/Reflection Poster
 Introduce “I am a Story” Art Project- Purpose is to represent learning about Race/Ethnicity AND to share
the things that could not be figured out just by knowing your race/racial identity- more details next lesson
 Exit chime
Lesson #3- How do we get our skin color?

Target Age: 5th Grade

Time Required: 45 mins

Equipment & Materials: PowerPoint/Poster that defines Race, lists racial categories, lists skin color adjectives with
color swatch examples, Book Tan to Tamarind by Malathi Michelle Iyengar, and poster paper with marker.

Procedures:

 Opening Question: Last class we learned about the 6 Race categories, “groups based on skin color”
 Are there only 6 skin colors??

 For example, “I identify as White, but is my skin color actually white?”

o Show examples of skin color adjectives: cinnamon, french toast, tan, cocoa, sand, chocolate,
peanut butter, peachy, honey, butterscotch, golden, bronze, amber, ginger, chili powder, tawny,
coffee, ebony, toffee, creamy, ivory, copper, pink, rose, and almond

 How do we get our skin color? Show PowerPoint and/or Videos

o 3 ways: family and ancestors, the sun, and melanin.

o Melanin: The pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their color. Dark-skinned people
have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people have. Melanin is produced by cells
called melanocytes. It provides some protection again skin damage from the sun, and the
melanocytes increase their production of melanin in response to sun exposure. Freckles,
which occur in people of all races, are small, concentrated areas of increased melanin
production. (https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=4340)
o https://youtu.be/_r4c2NT4naQ the science of skin color – Angela Koine Flynn (4:53)
*LONGEST BUT MOST ACCURATE
 pause at 1:22
 skip to 2:55, pause at 3:07
 Start at 4:00, play to finish
o
o https://youtu.be/gEQYdi3ZvQg Why do we have different skin colors?
o pause at :21, end at :31.
o https://youtu.be/VC0TL_lYLm8 How we get our skin color- Nina Jablonski (3:33)

 Read Aloud Tan to Tamarind by Malathi Michelle Iyengar or Play video:


https://www.ted.com/talks/angelica_dass_the_beauty_of_human_skin_in_every_color#t-659389 Angélica
Dass, photographer/Pantone skin color art project (stop at 5:42 remaining)

 Looking for vocabulary that describes skin color- list examples with colors
EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT 28

o Discuss: When done reading, ask the students to share with their neighbor a few key vocabulary
words they heard that could describe skin colors.

o Call on a few students to share and discuss text.


o Show students to written vocabulary words that match the key words in story with sample skin
colors (Display for students to see).
 Discussion/Reflection Poster
 Exit chime


Lesson #4- Tell my Story

Target Age: 5th Grade

Time Required: 45 mins

Equipment & Materials: Projector for video, List of skin color adjectives with color swatches, examples of “I am a
Story” art project options, Identity Statement sentence stem. Glue sticks, scissors, markers/pencils/crayons, and skin
color tone construction paper.

Procedures:
 PURPOSE: These things could not be figured out just by knowing your race/racial identity

 “I am a story” Art Project: drawing, collage, poem, rap/song, acting. Students get to choose:

o Examples of Spoken Word: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5RODlKqqH4

 Represents Ethnic-Racial Identity: Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, and Culture; includes Identity Statement

 Includes identity statement: “I identify as (race), my skin color is (color name), and here is my story…”

 Includes things people would need to get to know about you, “your story”:

o Favorite color/animal/plant/music, etc.

o Who/How many people are in your family (pets included!)

o What are my strengths/ Things I like about myself?

o ABC’s of You: Write an acrostic poem of your name


o What do you stand for as an individual? (write brief short sentences or single words that reflect
ideas, concepts, qualities, and character traits that are important to each student individually)
o How do these qualities and characteristics help make our community better? (write brief short
sentences or words that describe how we help our school, family, and/or community)
o Brief Free Writing: The prompt for this free writing exercise is “Dear 18 year-old me...” Direct
students to brainstorm a few questions or comments you might have for you at age 18.
 Discussion/Reflection Poster
 Exit chime

Lesson #5- Tell my Story Cont.

Target Age: 5th Grade


EXPLORING ETHNIC-RACIAL IDENTITY DEVEOPMENT 29

Time Required: 45 mins

Equipment & Materials: Speakers for music, List of skin color adjectives with color swatches, examples of “I am a
Story” art project options, Identity Statement sentence stem. Glue sticks, scissors, markers/pencils/crayons, and skin
color tone construction paper.

Procedures:

 Open with a Music Break: Students close their eyes and quietly listen to a piece of music. Prompt students
to take 30-60 seconds to write down whatever came to mind as they listened to the piece.

 Continue working on “I am a story” Art Project

 Discussion/Reflection Poster
 Exit chime

Lesson #6- Share my Story

Target Age: 5th Grade

Time Required: 45 mins

Equipment & Materials: Finished “I am a Story” Art Project

 Gallery Walk in classroom

 Community Circle / Share and Tell


o Each student has opportunity to share their art work
o Reads Identity Statement aloud, picks 1 item to share from story
 Post up Discussion/Reflection Poster
 Exit chime