Strategies for Empowering Students

  • To encourage students to use their knowledge
  • To have students use their metacognitive skills
  • To aid students in implementing the reading, writing, and thinking connection through authentic application

  • Use of metacognitive skills
  • Integration of affective and cognitive domains
  • Reflection on perception of self-worth and self-concept

  • Social Studies
  • Math
  • Science
  • English
  • Geography
  • Music
  • Character Development

Students will use their experiences or knowledge about the various content areas to complete the following activity. They are to be grouped in teams and work as a cooperative unit.

Each team may select any one of the choices listed below and complete the open-ended statement.

  • If I wasn't me, I would like to be a (an) . . .

  • My rationale for wanting to be . . . is because . . .

The team, however, must come to a unified consensus about their choice of what they would like to be. Each team member must then contribute to explaining why that selection was made.

The designation of the various subject areas within the text is an aid for the teacher. You may have the students orally express the areas represented.


If I wasn't me, I would like to be a tall oak tree [science].

My rationale for wanting to be an oak tree is because an oak tree is sturdy and strong. It has to be strong because it grows primarily in northern climates [geography]. There are at least 300 different species [math]. Its leaves provide shade to those who are sweltering, weary, and worn. The oak tree is like me in that it is dependable as well as beautiful. It stands tall, straight, and magnificent, like a knight during the times of King Arthur [English literature].

As its leaves gently sway in the breeze as though dancing to a waltz [music], they seem to say, "I am beautiful, I help to make life more enjoyable. I am truly something!"

(This is a starter list. Feel free to make additions.)

Students are to decide on what kind of tree--oak, spruce, etc.

Which car--Buick, Ford, Lexus

Which part of speech--verb, adverb, or adjective

    Date in history
    Part of Speech

Read the quote by Shakespeare: "We are such stuff as dreams are made of."

  • Ask students to interpret the quote and apply its meaning to the activity they have just completed.

  • Provide students with the list of other sayings by Shakespeare.

  • Arrange students in cooperative groups and allow them to select six sayings from the list.

  • Have them interpret what they think the sayings mean.

  • Have the teams share their interpretations and discuss how they determined the meanings.

  • Encourage students to read some of the works of Shakespeare, such as Romeo and Juliet.

  • Have the students conduct research on William Shakespeare to find out more about his:

    • family background
    • education
    • interests
    • views on life, values, and beliefs
    • contributions to society, his country, and the world

A Partial List of Shakespeare's Sayings

"Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie."

"A young man married is a man that's marred."

"Praising what is lost makes the remembrance dear."

"The nature of bad news infects the teller."

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

"I pray you, do not fall in love with me,
For I am falser than vows made in wine."

"I thought her as chaste as unsunn'd snow."

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

"Presume not that I am the thing I was."

"False face must hide what the false heart doth know."

  • How were students able to work effectively in cooperative groups?

  • Explain how dialogue among team members reflected a sense of caring, inclusion, and appreciation for the contributions of each member?

  • How did students demonstrate the ability to draw on their knowledge and experiences?

  • In what ways did team members exhibit self-value and confidence in their written and oral responses?

  • How did students demonstrate their skill in connecting the reading, writing, and thinking process?

  • In what ways did students exhibit an understanding and application of integration of content knowledge?


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