Identity and Transformation: Then and Now | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2012 G7:M2B

Identity and Transformation: Then and Now

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In this module, students explore the concept of personal identity formation and transformation in both historical and modern-day societies. The module begins with an overview of what "identity" means and how it can mean different things to different people. In Unit 1, students read first-person narratives that focus on various social identifiers--from race to gender to socioeconomic status--as they begin to frame their understanding of what identity means. Students read informational text, identifying central ideas, analyzing how an author develops his or her claims, and identifying how the sections of the text interact to form those ideas.

Unit 1 builds students' background knowledge in preparation for Unit 2, during which students closely read Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw and further explore the identity transformation of the play's main character, Eliza Doolittle. This unit centers on standard RL.7.3, which focuses on how plot, character, and setting interact in literature. As an end of unit assessment, students write an argumentative essay about Eliza's changes internally and externally as she undergoes the experiment of recreating herself under Higgins' tutelage.

In Unit 3, students analyze the impact of gender roles and stereotypes in personal identity development as influenced by the media and advertising. As students read and discuss both literary and informational texts, they strengthen their ability to discuss specific passages from a text with a partner, write extended text-based argumentative and informational pieces, and conduct a short research project. Unit 3 focuses on the research standards W.7.7 and W.7.8 through an investigation of how media and advertising perpetuate stereotypes about gender and affect individuals' sense of self. As a final performance task, students create an advertisement analysis of a current print ad and modify it by making a "counter ad" that does not rely on gender-specific stereotypes and instead offers a new vision of what men and women can be.At the end of the module, students will have a better understanding of how society tries to define individuals and how individuals try to define themselves. 

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

  • Identity is a multifaceted concept with several different components.
  • People's sense of identity can change over time.
  • Closely reading and discussing one excerpt of a longer text helps to deepen your understanding of the text as a whole.
  • Effective researchers ask relevant questions, gather information from several sources, keep track of their findings and sources, and synthesize their findings into coherent products.
  • How do individuals define themselves?
  • When people change their external appearance, do they necessarily change on the inside too?
  • How are ideas about gender communicated in today's society?
  • How can I be a savvy consumer of media and create a strong sense of self despite media messages about my gender? 

Content Connections

  • This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards. However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies and science content that may align to additional teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

NYS Social Studies Core Curriculum

Relevant Content Standards 

  • 7.7c Women joined the movements for abolition and temperance and organized to advocate for women's property rights, fair wages, education, and political equality.

-   Students will examine efforts of women to acquire more rights, including Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony.

  • Gathering, Using, and Interpreting Evidence: Define and frame questions about events and the world in which we live and use evidence to answer these questions. 


Each unit file includes teacher materials and student-facing materials.

Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please download the Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Nadia's Hands
by Karen English and Jonathan Weiner
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-1563976674
by George Bernard Shaw
One per student
ISBN: 978-1580493994, 1580493998


Each module is approximately 8 weeks of instruction broken into 3 units. The "week at a glance" chart in the curriculum map gives the big picture, breaking down the module into a detailed week-by-week view. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.

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