We are pleased to feature this article by MyLe Ann Murphy
 who is currently a senior at Florida State University working on her BS in English Education and has dedicated her life to the pursuit of becoming an amazing teacher.


Using the text, Turning White: A memoir of change, by Lee Thomas for a multicultural – identity lesson plan.

Florida State University

Multicultural / Identity Lesson Plan

MyLe Murphy

Based on a 50 minute class period:


This lesson is intended for a “regular” ninth grade English class during the second semester during an identity unit. During this unit, students will be reading and analyzing textual and personal identities that include cultural identities, emotional identities, and physical identities. This lesson will use the memoir, Turning White: A memoir of change, by Lee Thomas. This text is about a black news anchor who has developed an autoimmune disease (Vitiligo) that removes the pigment from his skin causing him to look white. Identity is a key part to any individual’s life, especially when a new life (whether that be a physical new life or an emotional new life) that is unexpected…and at times unwarranted, comes into play. Many students find they are conflicted between some sort of cultural or personal standing within their own lives – being a child and an adult, being an individual and being in a group, living in a former culture and a new culture – and struggle to find balance and acceptance between these two worlds. This text will present students with a personal story of one man’s conflicting balance between knowing who he is and who he is becoming. This creates a good connection for students about accepting the parts that are challenging and/or undesirable (the changing of an identity – physically or culturally) in life and the strength to find a balance between the two. Students will be asked to create a narrative that either portrays their own balancing of their two worlds or create multidimensional characters that are faced with two worlds.


Common Core Standards:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.9-10.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and analyze how an author uses rhetoric to advance that point of view or purpose.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.A Engage and orient the reader by setting out a problem, situation, or observation, establishing one or multiple point(s) of view, and introducing a narrator and/or characters; create a smooth progression of experiences or events.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.9-10.3.B Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and multiple plot lines, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)


Students will be able to:

  • Analyze the physical and visual texts through the reader-response lens
  • Create their own personal narratives
  • Demonstrate their own understanding of cultural expectations and personal expectations through writing


  • Pens, pencils, paper, journal
  • YouTube clips: Real Women Have Curves and Lee Thomas’ 2020 interview`11
  • Text: Turning White: A Memoir of Change by Lee Thomas

Anticipatory Set:

(3-5 minutes) Students will be introduced to the lesson with a video clip of Lee Thomas during his 2020 interview about his experience with Vitiligo. Students will observe the personal and public expectations that Thomas goes through and how he sorts out his identity in a way that creates peace between his former self and his new self.


Time allotted: Teacher will: Student will:
~ 10-14 minutes Teacher will open the discussion to the students with the question “What did you think?”. Teacher will monitor and actively listen to students’ opinions and perspectives of Thomas’ story. Teacher will bring up questions like “How did his personal identity differ from other people’s perception of Thomas? How did this affect Thomas?” – Teacher will keep students on track.Teacher will present the YouTube clip of RWHC and start the discussion with the question “What are the expectations of this identity for Ana? How does she reconcile her expectations with her mother’s expectations?” Teacher will direct questions towards cultural expectations of unwed women should look a certain way and the expectation of looking good is to be thin. Students will discuss what they thought of the video clip and how they video clip connected to the memoir of Lee Thomas. Students will discuss the message or their feelings about the issues that Thomas went through and the conflicting perspectives he gained through his illness. Students will recognize that racial identity was a key point for Thomas and that his skin color affects his current identity.Students will observe and actively listen to the clip from Real Women Have Curves – and discuss the conflicting perspectives of what women should look like. Students will hit on key points of what personal identity the main character, Ana, goes through with her mother and the expectations of the physical identity of her body. Students will discuss identity in this way.
~7-10 minutes Teacher will introduce journal questions after discussion. Teacher will observe and keep students on task as well as answer any questions or provide suggestions –like did becoming an older sibling change you? Did moving to a different state or a new country? Leaving old friends behind when entering a new or meeting new people? Becoming a young adult? The teacher will then ask for any volunteers to discuss their journals and will include their own journaling (should be completed before class or off the cuff). Students will be given a few moments to privately journal 1. What identity is, 2. What is the student’s identity, and 3. How has certain life events transformed their identities. Students will be asked to think deeply about their personal identities and how their identities have transformed or have been conflicting. Students may choose to discuss aloud with their peers or aloud to the class what they had written.
~15-20 minutes Teacher will introduce the personal narrative project to the students. The teacher will connect the texts that have been used in this unit as well as the recent text of Lee Thomas to the theme of identity. The teacher will discuss the directions of the project and what is being asked of the students. Students will begin to plan out their personal narrative or multidimensional character narrative that will include two conflicting personal identities. Students will brainstorm and write out two aspects of their lives that are opposing perspectives – this can be anything from becoming a young adult, but still being considered a child, living within two different cultural customs, wanting to be who they think they are and who others perceive them as, etc. – students will analyze life events that were key to these two differing perspectives and how they felt. Students have the option of discussing with peers (until they are no longer on topic) or planning on their own.



(3-5 minutes) Teacher will review the discussion of identity and the multiple perspectives that individuals find themselves in and conflict with to create their own identity. Teacher will review what is being asked of students about their own identity and how events or circumstances or whatever has shaped the students’ identities and how they think they may have a comfortable and honest identity through the counseling of these differing perspectives.


  • Formal: Students will be formally assessed on their completed narratives at the end of the unit.
  • Informal: Students will be informally assessed on their participation and working in class on narratives.


Students are to work on and plan out their narratives. Narratives should include two conflicting perspectives for the character or the student, a background to the character or the student’s life, personal opinions on why these perspectives are challenging or how they make the student feel, and a resolution plan for creating a cohesive and collaborative balance of the two perspectives. This will be brought into class and will be worked on further.




Students that need further assistance alongside their IEP forms will be provided accommodations that include enlarged print, personal copies of directions (as well as roughly translated versions in their L1 in the case that the ELL may need more help in the English language), provided examples and teacher assistance for prior knowledge content. Students that are physically impaired will not be required to move around unless it is more beneficial for said student to sit in a particular spot (front of classroom, by teacher, near exit, etc.). Students that are behind reading level or may be retread will not be isolated or left out because all students will be given the same tools and resources as well as further side assistance by teacher. Further resources may be brought into class by teacher if it is obvious that students in this category or in overall are struggling. Students with ADHD may need to move around the classroom to exert extra energy, this will be allowed as long as it is not disruptive and students demonstrate that they are indeed working on tasks.


MyLe Murphy

MyLe Ann Murphy is currently a senior st Florida State University working on her BS in English Education. She dedicates her life in the pursuit of becoming an amazing teacher and a wee-educated individual. mam11m@my.fsu.edu

Thank you MyLe for your valuable contributionTurning White: A Memoir of Change – Lee Thomas

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