Blog Post

“Self-Definition” Lesson Plan

Ms. Perry


Grade Level: High School/College

Topic: Social Identity

Time Allotment: Class period (40-60 minutes)

This lesson plan was inspired by an activity I completed while in middle school. My teacher had each student write his/her name on an index card and then pass it back to the student sitting behind him or her. She then asked the class to write one positive characteristic about the student whose name was on the index card. She then prompted the class to pass back the index card they had just written on to the student sitting behind them so that they too could write one positive characteristic about the student whose name was on the index card. She had the class repeat this task until the students had written a positive characteristic about every student in the class and the index card was returned to the student whose name was written on it. The assignment was intended to enhance our morale and provide a positive atmosphere for learning. This lesson has remained in my mind since the day my teacher introduced it to our class. I enjoyed the activity so much that I knew I wanted to apply it in my own academic career. To take it a step further, I designed this lesson plan with the intention of addressing issues students face with discrimination in regards to gender, nationality, race, religion, sexuality, etc.

Materials Needed: Self-Definition activity handout

Objective: The lesson plan will explore the ways in which individuals both define and set themselves apart from conforming ideals within society. It will do so by asking the students to consider this notion, reflect upon it, and respond to it through the lesson plan. The lesson plan requires the students to define themselves much like a word is defined in a dictionary. For example, the students will be asked to compose a list of stereotypes they have been categorized under in relation to their gender, nationality, race, religion, sexuality, etc. These words will be considered antonyms. The students will then be prompted to provide a working definition that they find depicts them as an individual. They will then create a list of synonyms to support their definition. In addition, they will be required to partner up with another student who will positively define and provide a set of synonyms for them. Much like words have more than one definition, the student will too. By doing so, it will encourage students to dismiss stereotypes and to develop positive terms to define themselves. Thus, the students will learn by engaging with the lesson plan itself.


1. Prompt students to compose a list of discriminatory/stereotypical terms (antonyms). (5-10 minutes)

2. Prompt students to define themselves and create a list of synonyms based off their definition. (10-15 minutes)

3. Prompt students to pair up with a partner, switch papers, and write a definition and set of synonyms for their partner (this may be repeated multiple times with different partners, up to teacher's discretion/depends on time). (10-15 minutes)

4. End the lesson plan with a discussion of the homework assignment to follow. Students will type all components into a formal definition at home. Instructions for the assignment are provided under “Homework”.

* The numbered instructions are for teacher use only. The instructions for students are provided on the attached handout (see link below). The students will simply follow the steps listed.

Homework: Students will type up the responses from the handout to create a formal definition. Provided below is a sample/guide that the students can utilize to format it correctly.

Formal Definition Example:


1. Your definition

2. Your partner’s definition

Synonyms: (insert both the synonyms you have given yourself and that your partner has given you)

Antonyms: (insert your list of antonyms here)


1 comment

What a great assignment--adaptable to K-12, higher ed, so many different classrooms.  Thank you for this thoughtful post!