A.C.E.S. Squares!

I’m so proud of my AP Language and Composition students! After completing an identity unit I call, “Who Am I? Who Are You? Who Are We?” they created these beautiful hands-on squares.

Students had to read and annotate at least 4 essays in the unit. Title choices included:

How it Feels to Be Colored Me—Zora Neale Hurston

Rock of Ages—Joan Didion

The Story of My Body—Judith Ortiz Cofer

What I’ve Learned From Men—Barbara Ehrenreich

Mother Tongue—Amy Tan

In the Kitchen—Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Why I Went to the Woods—Henry David Thoreau

Beauty: When the Other Dancer is Self– Alice Walker

Additionally, students completed a SOAPStone chart and answered essential questions relating to identity. Instead of a traditional test, I wanted them to showcase their knowledge in a hands-on, creative project.

Each flap of the square is filled with information regarding essential questions, author’s purpose, and other literary components.

This project works well as long as students have read at least 3 titles–fiction or non-fiction. I could see this working in a science class, or even a history class. You can adapt it to your needs.

Before I assigned the project, I completed an A.C.E.S. Square myself. I wanted to experience what I’d be asking my students to do, plus, I’m an artist, and I knew I’d enjoy this process.

Instead of simply giving the students the directions, I showed them my completed square and I let them deduce what the project would be about.

I allowed students to work on this project in class only. I allocated 8 class periods. I have to admit I went a little crazy buying all kinds of washi tape, stickers, scrapbooking papers, and other doodads to enhance the students’ projects.

After they completed this project, I asked them to complete a student project reflection. One of the questions I asked was, What was difficult about this project? I was a bit dismayed to see students downgrading their artistic abilities. Many said, I’m not very creative, or I’m not good at art. This was disheartening to read. I truly believe we have to give high school students more opportunities to flex their creative muscles. From kindergarten to high school–somewhere along the way–they tell themselves they’re not creative. I want to change that.

If you’d like to purchase this creative product, it is currently for sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Captivate Motivate Educate.

A.C.E.S. Square

A culminating project for any theme in ELA




  1. Hello! I purchased the A.C.E.S square activity a few hours ago through this website, and paid with paypal. I still have not received the item that I purchased.

    Thank you!


  2. This is such a wonderful idea; love the art integration! I agree that it’s so important we let students explore identity. I loved starting the year with students creating I Am Poems and projects…and then coming back to them at the end of the year to see if they had changed throughout the year.

    Liked by 1 person

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