Overview: Use this lesson to help your students explore the key attitudes and behaviors associated with success in your content area. This short reflective activity can be completed individually, in small groups, or even as a homework assignment and is designed to encourage students to think about what success may look like and identify ways to improve their capacity to achieve it.


Time: 20-30 minutes depending on discussion

Activity (Methodology): Worksheet/Group Work

Materials Needed: The Defining Your Skills Worksheet (one per student)

Applicable Content Areas: All


Learning Objectives: 

By the end of the activity, students will be able to… 

  • Define key terms and skills associated with success in the respective content area.
  • Describe and rate themselves on how competent they are in the defined areas currently.
  • Identify ways in which to improve their capacity in the defined areas for increased success.


Getting Started: Distribute the Defining Your Skills Worksheet to each student



  1. Begin by choosing 3-5 key terms or skills from your content area. These can be based on your own class learning goals and objectives, or on more general measures of success in your content area. If you prefer, you may also choose from the list below:
  • Art: Creativity, artistry, curiosity, imagination, innovation, personal expression
  • Business: Economic/financial literacy, entrepreneurialism, motivation,
  • College & Career: Critical thinking, career-ready, prepared, learning, understanding
  • English Language Arts: Research skills/practices, investigating, questioning, critiquing
  • General: Perseverance, self-direction, planning, self-discipline, adaptability, initiative, imagination, curiosity, self-awareness, strength, enjoyment, adaptability
  • Health/Wellness: Physical health, mental health, nutrition, dedicated, active
  • Higher Order Thinking: Critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, analysis, interpretation, synthesizing information
  • Leadership: Leadership, teamwork, collaboration, cooperation
  • Mathematics: Reasoning, modeling, perseverance, precision, abstract
  • Science: Scientific literacy/reasoning, hypothesizing, observing, classifying, predicting, inferring, evaluating
  • Social Emotional Learning: Self-awareness, self-management, social-awareness, responsible decision-making, relationship skills
  • Social Studies: Civics, ethical, social justice, citizenship
  • Speech/Debate: Oral/written communication, public speaking, presenting, listening, fluency
  • World History/Culture: Global awareness, multicultural literacy, humanitarianism, community, culture, cooperation, collaboration
  • World Language: Fluency, interpersonal, intercultural, communicative, comprehensible

2. Next, have students write the 3-5 chosen words in the first column of the worksheet. Then, allow them approximately 10 minutes to fill in the rest of the worksheet.

NOTE: Time permitting, this step can be done individually, in pairs/small groups, or even has a homework assignment.

3. After time is up, bring students back together to discuss their responses in one large group.


Discussion: This short lesson is intended to help students think critically about the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be successful. It can also as a self-reflection tool. Consider using the following questions to debrief the activity further:

  • How did your definition of the key terms/skills compare to those of your peers?
  • What similarities or differences did you observe?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What did you learn about others?
  • How can identifying key terms/skills help us to succeed in school and in life?
  • How can having a shared definition of these key terms/skills help us to better understand and communicate with others?
  • How can these factors help us better understand our own and others’ cultural values?


Virtual Implementation: This lesson can easily be replicated virtually using a platform like Padlet or in live webinar format. Teachers should assign the worksheet in advance and have students upload their responses for discussion. Students then could post their comments on other’s responses or share them synchronously depending on your class structure.

To access the video recording of the webinar detailing this lesson (start at 24:17), please click here.


Download Lesson Plan