Lesson: Strengths in Our Stories - StoryCorps
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Lesson: Strengths in Our Stories

Students will learn what a personal asset is by using a list of personal assets to analyze the StoryCorps audio clip of Julio Diaz’s story. Students will also identify their own personal assets, as well as share situations and stories that illustrate these assets.

  • Objectives:
    • Students will understand what personal assets are; and
    • Students will identify and illustrate their own personal assets.
  • Standards: Applicable Common Core Standards
  • Time: 45 Minutes
  • Preparation:
  • Materials:
    • Asset cards (one set of cards, printed and cut out, per every three students)
    • Interactive whiteboard or a computer with connection to the Internet, a projector and speakers
    • Student copies of the Personal Reflection Worksheet

    Warm-Up: Story and Asset Card Match

    10 Minutes


    1. Explain to students that today you will be exploring personal strengths, also known as personal assets. An asset is a tool, strength, or capacity that all students have. Tell students that identifying their own personal assets—or strengths or capacities—is helpful because they can draw on their assets to grow as a person, reach goals, and succeed in the face of challenges.
    2. Furthermore, being able to talk about one’s assets is an important part of applying to college and interviewing for jobs. When students look at themselves from the perspective of their assets, they are looking at themselves from a strengths-based perspective. This can be one of the most powerful tools they have for negotiating life.
    3. Divide students into groups of three.
    4. Explain that each time students talk to a new person, they will trade questions. Tell students they will all do this at the same time. Encourage students to talk to at least three different people.
    5. Each group will receive a set of cards, which contain quotes from StoryCorps students, as well as corresponding personal assets. Explain that the purpose of the activity is for students to match up each quote with an asset.
    6. Pass out one set of asset cards to each trio. Ask students to work together to match up the stories with the corresponding assets.
    7. Once each group is done matching up the cards, ask for volunteers to identify the story associated with each asset.
    8. Ask students to move their chairs into a circle.


    Ask students:

    • Were there any quotes that were difficult to match up with an asset? If so, which ones?
    • Were there any quotes or assets that you could relate to? If so, which ones and why?
    • Why might it be helpful for us to know our personal assets?
    • Why do you think it might be helpful for us to think about how our stories reflect our assets?

    Activity: Julio Diaz’s Story

    15 Minutes


    1. Explain to students that they will now listen to an audio clip that demonstrates personal assets. In the clip, Julio tells a story about being robbed on a New York City subway platform.
    2. Play the Julio Diaz audio clip for students.

    4. After students have listened to the clip, ask them to use the Personal Reflection Worksheet to jot down two pieces of dialogue that stood out to them, as well as a personal response to the questions below:
        This clip reminds me of … because…
        One thing that stood out to me was … because…
        One thing I’d like to know more about is …
        If I were …I would…because…

    6. Ask students to turn to a partner and share the dialogue that stood out to them and their responses to the clip.
    7. Call on a student to summarize the clip. Ask other students who might want to add to the summary.
        Sample summary: In this clip, Julio talks about being robbed by a teenager whom he then takes out to dinner. When the teenager gives Julio his knife and seems to reflect on his actions, Julio feels rewarded.

    9. Ask a few students to share with the class what stood out to them and their responses to the clip. Validate students’ different perspectives about Julio.
    10. Ask students to state words they would use to describe Julio’s character. Record students’ responses on a whiteboard, chalkboard, or chart paper. Reiterate that some or many of the words they have chosen to describe Julio may be personal assets or strengths.
    11. Ask students to look at the Personal Strengths & Assets List, which is included in the Personal Reflection Worksheet . Let them know that the list is not complete and may not include all the assets that they, themselves, have. Tell them to skim the list.
    12. After students have viewed the list of assets, ask them, “Are there any words that are new to you?” Define all words that students noted as new vocabulary and have them log those words, and the definitions on their list.


    Ask students if there are any additional words that they might use to describe Julio. Invite a few volunteers to share any additional assets from the list, and to support their answers with evidence from the audio clip.

    Activity: What are my Personal Assets?

    10 Minutes


    1. Emphasize that it is OK that most of us do not have dramatic stories like Julio’s, but tell them that you have no doubt that each of them has personal assets as powerful for them as Julio’s are for him. Also, their stories are likely to illustrate their personal assets.
    2. Ask students to look at the Personal Strengths & Assets List. As the following questions one by one, and ask students to put a check mark next to their answers:
      • Which assets would your close friends say you possess?
      • Which assets would your teacher, coach or counselor say you possess?
      • Which assets would your parent or another adult in your life say you possess?

    4. Now ask students to review their Personal Strengths & Assets List, and notice which assets have the most check marks. Ask students to circle or highlight the assets with the most check marks.
    5. Pair students up and give them two minutes each to share about one asset of theirs that they feel is important to who they are. Students can choose to talk about one of the assets that was highlighted on their list, or a different one.


    Facilitate a short discussion using the following prompts:

    • Were you surprised by which assets had the most check marks?
    • Were the circled assets ones you would have named about yourself?
    • Do you think it’s more difficult to identify other people’s assets than your own? Why or why not?
    • How did it feel to think about your personal assets, and share this information with a classmate?

    Closing: Go-Around

    Five Minutes


    • Have students respond to the following prompt: “One asset I have is ________. I demonstrated this asset when ______________________.

    Optional Homework: Challenges & Strengths

    Provide the following context for students:
    Knowing your personal assets gives you a powerful tool that helps you grow, achieve your goals, and meet challenges. Reflecting on your assets can be particularly helpful when you are trying to meet challenges because it reminds you that you already have some or all of what it takes to meet the challenge. You can, therefore, have confidence, based on fact, that applying your personal assets, combined with continued focus and hard work, will have a positive result.

    Activity 1: Quote Reflection
    Ask students to use the discussion questions on the Optional Homework Assignment worksheet to respond to the following quote:
    “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” —Arnold Schwarzenegger
    Activity 2: Graphic Organizer
    Ask students to use the Personal Asset Graphic Organizer included in the Optional Homework Assignment worksheet to make notes about a challenge they have faced that caused them to develop a strength. If they don’t see that they developed such a strength, they should note the strength that would have helped them face the challenge.
    Activity 3: Recording Assignment
    Explain to students that their homework assignment is to use the StoryCorps App to record a story in response to one of the following prompts:

    • “One asset I have is _______. I demonstrated this asset when ___________.”
    • “A story of how I used an asset to overcome a challenge I faced is _______.”

    Printable Lesson Materials

    Title Link
    Lesson Plan: Strengths in Our Stories Download Printable PDF
    Common Core Standards Download Printable PDF
    Story & Asset Match Cards List Download Printable PDF
    Personal Reflection Worksheet Download Printable PDF
    Homework: Personal Challenges & Strengths Download Printable PDF