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Character Strengths FULL Unit Study for SEL/Special Education
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Character Strengths FULL Unit Study for SEL/Special Education


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About This Lesson

Explore the intersection of positive psychology and autism intervention by teaching your students how to capitalize on their character strengths!

This comprehensive bundle includes everything you need to leverage Character Strengths in the classroom, including teaching slides, a teacher's guide, printables for each activity, and supplementary resources.

Learning Objectives

  • Students learn to receptively and expressively identify their Signature Strengths.
  • Students learn to sort behaviors into "too much," “too little," or “just right" for each of their signature strengths.
  • Students can identify activities they enjoy based on their strengths profile.

Here’s what you’ll get:
An entire Character Strengths unit, including, 

  • Student instruction in Google slides format
  • Teacher's guide in speaker notes and also available as a Google doc
  • Printable worksheets and materials for students

Begin teaching Character Strengths!

  • Activity 1:  Introduction to Character Strengths
  • Activity 2:  Character Strengths Deep Dive
  • Activity 3:  Strengths in Action
  • Activity 4:  Strengths Superhero Shield
  • Activity 5:  Strengths Scavenger Hunt
  • Activity 6:  Strengths Reflection

Integration into Current Instruction

  • Are your students currently working on answering questions about personal information? Add in a question about their top strengths.
  • Are your students currently working on vocational/job skills training programs? Help them to identify preferences by identifying character strengths required for different tasks/jobs.
  • Are your students learning to self-monitor their behavior? Why not have them begin tracking when and how they use each of their top strengths throughout the day?

Modifications and Accommodations for Different Learning Levels

  • For students with fewer skills, start by having them receptively identify each of the 24 strengths in sets of 4 or 5. Provide concrete examples of each strength in action to build understanding.
  • Begin to build background understanding by reading books or watching video clips highlighting each character's strengths. As the educator, label the strengths you see/hear in the characters.
  • For a student unable to access the VIA Survey, even with the modified guide, try hosting a family/team meeting (in-person or virtually) to discuss the student from a strengths perspective. Provide each attendee with a list of the 24 strengths and have them circle 5–7 strengths they have seen the student display. Then discuss.

Why you’ll love this unit study:

*The lessons and activities are easy to read and implement.

* You can use each lesson as a standalone activity or as part of a comprehensive, science-based unit study.

* The Character Strengths unit comes with activities, downloadable worksheets, and even IEP and BIP recommendations tailored specifically to students with autism 

Ways to Use

  • Use it as an SEL curriculum
  • Integrate into small groups and/or individual counseling sessions
  • Families can use this at home, too!

What are Character Strengths? 

Positive Psychology researchers Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson created the Values in Action Survey, or The VIA. This 96-item VIA survey identifies your capacity to exhibit each of 24 Character Strengths. These 24 strengths were identified as being valued by humans across many cultures and holding value throughout history. 

The skill of identifying character strengths centers on the question of “What is RIGHT with me?” and “Who am I at my BEST?” The science of character strengths is clear — a focus on what is right about ourselves and others has a tremendous impact on our wellbeing, relationships, and engagement. This is true of everyone, including students with autism. Employing Signature Character Strengths can help empower students in all aspects of their lives. Let’s shine a light on what is RIGHT with us and those around us so we might all flourish together.

The Science of Character Strengths

The evidence is clear — knowing and using your strengths positively impacts your life. If you keep your strengths top of mind and live them each day, you're significantly more likely to thrive. Research indicates a three-pronged approach to character strengths is best — become aware, begin to explore, and continually find new ways to apply your strengths in order to thrive! Knowing and using your character strengths can: 

  • Improve mental, physical, and social health
  • Boost greater happiness and overall wellbeing
  • Increase work satisfaction and positive association with work
  • Improve your relationships
  • Buffer against the onset of mental health challenges
  • Build psychological resilience

Looking for more SEL resources? 

* Explore the free full lesson plans and unit studies on the skills of happiness at our Skill Center. All units include teaching slides, additional worksheets and activities, and even IEP and BIP recommendations tailored specifically to students with autism. 

Proof Positive’s resources are and will always be free. Be well!




Lesson Plan
March 4, 2024
1.81 MB


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