Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To help students reflect on their self-worth and enhance their self-concepts
  • To promote the students' appreciation of their individuality, ethnicity, and cultural heritage
  • To foster the integration of the language arts skills

  • Development and use of new and/or unfamiliar vocabulary words
  • Differential use of synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms
  • Development of sentence syntax

  • Language Arts
  • Career Development
  • Character Building
  • English

Students will use their metacognitive skills, knowledge, vocabulary, and creative thinking and writing skills to complete the following activity. This activity can be done individually or in cooperative teams of two or four.

Each student will write his or her name vertically down the lefthand side of a sheet of paper, writing each letter separately. The student will think of a word or phase to match each letter. The words or phase must correspond with each letter and be arranged to formulate a positive statement or prediction about the person.


Students are to develop a paragraph or story based on their name descriptions. These are to be shared orally with the class. Students are to explain the process they used in developing the descriptors for their individual names. They must also justify why or how the descriptors accurately represent what or who they are or plan to become. This activity may take more than one class period to complete.

This activity is an excellent homework assignment for bilingual students and their parents who are learning English as a second language.

Ask students to read the statement from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost."

  • Ask students to determine the two characters having the dialogue, where (the setting), why this statement was made, and the meaning.

  • Have students research other work by Lewis Carroll and compare the style of writing he used in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to them.

  • Ask students to read and share other books in which the characters have unusual or significant names. Have them tell how these names reflect the character traits and/or values of these characters.

  • How effectively did the students process and apply the directions?

  • How was the students' use of metacognitive skills exhibited?

  • In what ways did students demonstrate a knowledge of their ethnic or cultural heritage?

  • How did students express pride and satisfaction with themselves as individuals?

  • How did students demonstrate their skill and knowledge base in writing, thinking, listening, and speaking?

  • In what ways did this activity enhance the students' vocabulary bank?


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