By Sherryl Maglione (Miss Magz), Cowichan Campus, ABE English Instructor, Vancouver Island University
A meaningful way to understand one’s life and commemorate one’s progress through events and situations is to reflect on important memories, think about the people who are important to us, and gather images together that are critical to understanding our personal history.
A few years ago, one of my students was struggling with her Life Map assignment. She had a very sad personal history; unfortunately, she had spent most of her young life in many foster homes and did not have the opportunity to put down roots in a meaningful way. We had a discussion about the various major events that she could recall in her life and I researched her cumulative file (with the permission of the principal) and copied her grade one through high school-age school photographs for her to use. With a few basic supplies, such as poster board, colored paper, markers and crayons, stencil lettering, glitter glue, and her photographs, she completed her Life Map.
During the reflection and discussion session, she stated her happiness and incredulity that she was able to complete this assignment after all! Best of all, she thoroughly enjoyed the process of recalling various places where she lived when her school pictures were taken. Some memories held sad associations for her; however, many of the pictures evoked positive experiences as well. In addition to personal photographs, students can use hand-drawn pictures, downloaded images from the Internet, and important quotes they feel represent their philosophy and understanding of their life.
Life Maps are not only a visual product of one’s history; they are also a way to think about one’s growth process and honor life experiences. The Life Map exercise provides an excellent example of process and product; cumulative and summative assessment opportunities become self-evident for both student and instructor. Over the years, I have had many students work through this process and they are able to appreciate and recognize the worth of this activity.
The Life Map is also an excellent pre-writing activity that will help students complete an autobiographical essay. I have used the Life Map and Autobiography Essay in my EDCP classes, as well as my English 037/047 classes. A critical part of the Life Map exercise is the reflection and discussion. Students can choose to share their Life Map with a class partner, with the instructor, and with the entire class.
Assessment – Life Map
A. The Life Map includes a minimum of 10 main events which include relevant pictures/symbols/images (50 points)
B. Each event is labeled in chronological order (early to present) (10 points)
C. Creativity and effort (color, layout, etc.) (20 points)
D. The map has a title on the top of the paper (10 points)
E. Reflection/Discussion (10 points)
Total 100 points
Transcript of My Life Map
My Life Map
My earliest memory of my childhood was when I started to attend preschool. I remember crying on the first day, and not willing to eat lunch. However, after I made friends with the other students, I became much more outgoing.
When I was 5, my parents decided to immigrate to Canada. After spending my birthday on the airplane, I remember feeling incredibly down. Not only did I have to say goodbye to the place I call home, I also had to part with my grandparents who took care of me.
I was born on March 24th, 1998, in Shenzhen, China. According to my parents, I was a quiet baby that slept all day.
Learning how to ride a bike
My grandmother taught me how to ride a bike when I was in grade 1. At first, she had to hold to on the bike, but soon, I was able to ride independently.
A painful low point in my life was when I accidentally tripped over the stairs and fell. The incident happened at the Gateway Theatre right before I was going to perform.
I ended up not only getting 4 stitches but also missing my performance. But I learned my lesson: don't go running up the stairs when it's dark.
Moving back to China
The summer before grade 6, my family decided to move back to China. I was devastated, but things were already settled. Even though I attended a Canadian-based international school, I was still unhappy with my life. Finally, after 6 months, I was able to persuade my parents to come back to Vancouver. I realized that if you really want something, there will always be a way.
Applying to Crofton
One day afterschool, I came home and told my parents that I wanted to apply to Crofton. At first, they didn't approve because it was such a last minute decision, but once again, I persuaded them by saying that I would put in my best effort. I told myself: "this is a chance to prove to yourself what you are capable of". The following months, I studied hard, had late night classes, and tried my best at school.
Grade 9 France Trip
I remember being so excited to go on the trip with so many of my close friends. I was thankful to have the opportunity to bond with my classmates outside of the school environment. I learned that friends make everything better.
Grade 9 OE Trip
Every time before OE, I always complain about not wanting to go. Yet every time I come back, the trip always becomes a valuable memory. There were hard times where I wanted to stop in the middle of the hike, but in the end, I persevered. It was through those experiences that I learned that determination can get you through tough times. Other than an important lesson learned, camp also gave me a chance to depend on my classmates.
Grade 9 Exam week
If you know me, then you know that tests of any sort scare me. Needless to say, those 2 weeks gave me immense amounts of stress. However, I realized that if I was already in such distress for a few exams in grade 9, I can't possibly get through the rest of my life. I think that throughout grade 9, the most important thing that I learned was how to cope with my stress.
Life Map Assignment
To be honest, at first, I didn't expect much from the assignment. I thought that I would just do it, hand it in, and be done with it. I guess I didn't realize how much reflection it would require me to do. Now that I am working on it, I feel like I am discovering more about myself. This really proves one quote right: "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?" - E. M. Forster.
I have always wanted to donate blood. Although I am quite afraid of needles, the thought that my blood can possibly help someone else makes me really happy. When I turn of legal age, this will definitely be on top of my list.
Go to the Airport and Take the Next Available Flight
I think for most people, trips are often well planned, but I want to experience a trip that is completely unpredictable. Just enjoying a carefree trip and not worrying about anything else.
There is always something magical in a perfectly captured photograph. I want to be able to do that. Even though we can't go back to a specific memory, we can always look back and reminisce. A picture can simply bring forward more vivid memories.
Become a good cook
I really enjoy making food even though I am not that great at it. Therefore, I would love to learn to become a better cook. I want to be able to cook for my friends and family, and of course, myself.
Tell Everyone How I Feel About Them
Before I die, I would definitely love to tell those that I know, how I truly feel about them. Whether the person is one that I like or dislike. Just letting out everything, and revealing everything.
To be continued...