Living with a Name
After reading Ralph Ellison’s Essay
“Hidden Name and Complex Fate”
and “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros,
consider and write about what it’s like to live with your names.
Learning about Your Names
1. Use a dictionary and/or online resources to find out what each of your own names mean.
2. Interview a family member to learn the sources of your name(s). If you have equipment, audio or videotape the interview. Who named you and why? Are you named for a friend or family member?
3. Determine the kind of surname you have. Is it a place name, occupation, descriptive, etc.?
4. Describe problems you have experienced because of your name, including any mispronunciations, misspellings, and misunderstandings.
5. Describe nicknames and related embarrassing or humorous experiences.
6. Identify challenges you feel because of the name(s) you carry.
Additional readings for unit on “Living With a Name”
See complete assignment with sample student responses in
Chapter 11 “Celebrating Names: A Unit a Community and Identity”
in Teaching Writing in Middle School: Common Core and More (2013)