What Do I Control?

6, 7, 8

Students explore the choices they have and the influences that make up their identity. They choose a method of presentation to share a representation of their identities and how their identities contribute to the common good. 

PrintTwo 45-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • reflect on his or herself-image and strengths that benefit the community.
  • discuss elements of personal identity.
  • brainstorm a list of choices made by self and others.
  • create and present a representation of his or her identity.
  • "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi - song on CD or YouTube video
  • student copies of handouts
  • materials for project (completed at home), including construction paper, markers, magazines, scissors, glue
  • student access to computers, if available
Teacher Preparation 

In this lesson, help students identify what they have control over in their lives. Students may feel limits on their choices based on family issues, financial situation, academic struggles, low self-esteem, and bullying from peers. Although these things may seem like obstacles, there is always something they can control and change. Guide and encourage students to reflect on what identifies them and how much control they have of their own lives. 


self-esteem: the evaluative judgments made about self-attributed qualities

consequence: a result or effect; a result of a set of actions

choice: an act of making a decision when there are two or more options

identity: the distinguishing quality or personality of an individual

dependent: relying on another for support

independent: not subject to another's authority or control -- not reliant on another for livelihood or subsistence

Home Connection 

The learner chooses a format to produce and present on the concept of who they are/identity. They brainstorm ideas in the classroom but complete the project at home. Encourage students to discuss the concept of identity with their families in order to learn more about their ethnicity, culture, religion and family traditions and practices.


Have students reflect on the following questions after they complete their identity project.

Am I in control of my life? What areas of my life/choices do I control? Did this project make me feel in control? Proud? How does helping others (at home, at school in the community) give me a sense of control? How does helping others impact my family and community?


Martin, Max; Sambora, Richie; Bon Jovi, Jon.  "It's My Life." Lyrics.  Crush.  The Island Def Jam Music Group, 2010.

Rubistar. http://rubistar.4teachers.org/


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Play the song, "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi. Let the song play, and ask the students to discuss the message of the song. https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/bonjovi/itsmylife.html

  2. Write or project all the vocabulary words on the board. Ask students to pair up and define them in their own words (think - pair - share). As they share, write concise definitions by each word.

  3. Discuss the concept of identity and allow students to share their ideas and opinions of what makes up their identity (appearance, culture, interests, family traditions (including family philanthropic traditions), values, faith, and talents).

  4. Tell the students that each of them has a unique identity that makes them important to others at home, at school, and in the community. Ask students to brainstorm in writing the elements that make up their identity. Give them a copy of Handout One: Identity to guide their thinking.

  5. Tell the students that one of the jobs of parents and teachers is to help young people move from dependence to independence. As they gain independence, they have more choices and more control. Review the meaning of dependence and independence. Give each student a copy of Handout Two: Choices Chart. Ask students to indicate their level of independence in different areas by writing in the chart who controls what choices. For example, the student may choose what to wear, and a parent may choose what is for dinner. Have them brainstorm as many choices as they can that impact their lives. The choices will probably be different for each student. Discuss: Are the choices you make part of your identity? How or why?

  6. Have students count up the choices different people make for them. Who has the most control of their lives? What areas do THEY control?

  7. Introduce the project. Each student makes a unique project that defines his or her identity. Some project ideas are described on Handout Three: Project Choices. Give each student a copy of Handouts Three and Four (Rubric to guide their project). Tell the students that they will share their identity with the class in this creative way. As they explore their identity, tell them to think about how their identity makes them important to their community. Their identity gives them the tools they need to make a difference.

  8. Students brainstorm ideas for the project in class but complete the assignment at home.

  9. Day Two

    Students present their projects to the whole class in turn or in a science fair style (moving around the room). After presentations, each student reflects on their own work and how the choices they have impact them and their  home/school/community. See Reflection below.

  10. Discuss the concept of social capital. As students reflect on the creative expressions of all the classroom members, call attention to the collective strength this represents. Discuss how they can support one another for the benefit of all.


Teacher evaluates the students' projects based on the Rubric in Handout Four. Students also evaluate their projects and write a reflection.

Cross Curriculum 

Students continue to reflect on what strengths they have that may contribute to the common good.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss the function of family traditions and role modeling in teaching about sharing and giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.7 Identify and give examples of an individual's reserved power to act.
      2. Benchmark MS.8 Identify and describe examples of community/social capital.