Improve life outcomes

Jumpstart: Recognizing Student Strengths - Universal


CASEL Competency Focus: Self-Awareness
Time: 20-30 minutes
Materials: Chart Paper/Board, Post-It Notes or Paper
Goal: During a teacher selected activity(structured and unstructured), the student will identify one of their own strengths in 8 out of 10 observable opportunities as measured by a teacher assessment tool.

1. Create a list of activities or situations that the student displays a strength in (such as math class, being helpful at lunchtime, sharing toys at recess, etc).
2. Recognize why the activity may be a strength for them (such as they smile when doing it, they like to do that activity all the time, etc.).

Standards Addressed:

Speaking and Listening Standards


    • Pose and respond to specific questions by making comments that contribute to the discussion and elaborate on the remarks of others.
    • Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.
    • Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

Definitions of Key Terms:

  • Character Strength: A character strength is something that a person is good at. A strength is usually an activity or task that a person likes to do.

Lesson Procedures

Introduction: Introduce the topic of Student Strengths by showing a video or reading a book. Try “What’s My Superpower.”

Gather students together to watch the video or listen to the book if time permits. Explain that it is important that we are able to recognize our own strengths. Strengths are things that we do well. Sometimes, other people have an easier time noticing our strengths than we do! We are going to practice noticing a strength in a classmate, and then noticing a strength about ourselves. Look at the SiLAS Character Strength Cards. Talk about each strength and the provided example.

Next, have each student pick a popsicle stick or name of a classmate. Each student should have the name of someone else. They should think about that classmate, and the strengths that the student shows relating to the SiLAS Character Strength Cards. Display the Character Strength cards on charts around the room or at the front of the room. Put one Character Strength on each chart, with space around for post-its to be displayed. On a post-it note, each student will write a strength about the student whose name they chose. Examples include: “Jason is hard-working because when he is my reading partner, he always gets to work right away, without the teacher reminding him.” “Sarah is determined because when she was learning how to jump rope on the playground, she kept trying until she got it.” “Matthew is cooperative because he helps his art table clean up when the teacher says it is time.”

Students will then think about their own strengths and write a post-it note related to a Character Strength card. Examples: “I am brave when I tried to do a cartwheel after I got hurt the last time.” “I am curious when I read a new type of genre at school. Usually I read fiction but sometimes I like to try nonfiction books about animals and people.” “I am honest when my mom and dad asked me why there was a homework sheet in my backpack when I said I didn’t have any homework. I apologized and told them that I do have homework, and I started doing it.”

When students complete their two post-it notes, they will stick them on the poster that displays that Character Strength. Then they will do a gallery walk to see the strengths that their classmates wrote. They should see the strength that a classmate wrote about them, as well as their own strengths. Have a reflective discussion about how recognizing our strengths is important and can make us have confidence and feel good about ourselves.