Circles of Strength: What Do You Stand For?
Memorial Middle School

“Circles of Strength” is a lesson designed to help students reflect upon how they are part of many different community “circles” within the “Circle of Life.” As members of the “Circle of Life” and as citizens of those communities, students will begin to reflect upon how their attitudes and actions “shape” and influence those community circles. Through this process of guided discussion and personal reflection, students will reflect upon the core values of respect, responsibility, caring and citizenship as they consider how they might utilize their personal strengths and uniqueness to strengthen the circles in which they live and expand their circles by respecting the abilities, gifts and perspectives of others.

• Students will reflect upon how all human beings are members of the “Circle of Life.”
• Students will identify and reflect upon the various “circles” or “communities” of which they are part.
• Students will identify/share a personal strength they bring to their life “circles” (family, school, team, community, etc.)
• Students will reflect upon how sharing individual strengths makes a community stronger.
• Students will identify and reflect upon how various local, national and global historical figures have strengthened their community circles by contributing their strengths.
• Students will make connections between their own strengths and the strengths of others.
• Students will use their artistic abilities to design a creative expression of their personal “strength.”
• Students will create a strength mural which will “stand” as a symbol of the character of the community.
• Circles (construction or stock-quality paper, 6” diameter)
• Writing/drawing supplies (pencils, pens, markers, colored pencils, crayons, etc.)
• Scissors and glue (for any multi-dimensional displays)
• Circles of Strength handout
• CDs – “Circle of Life” from Lion King, and “Seasons of Love” from Rent (if desired)
1. Teachers should open the lesson as appropriate given the setting and subject. This lesson may be presented in a variety of forms, within an individual classroom or throughout an entire school community. Opening discussions of the definitions of strength, and community and the concepts of respect, responsibility, caring and citizenship will help to lay the foundation for this plan. Connecting this lesson to a variety of disciplines, including language arts (reading, writing, speaking, listening, viewing), history (the structure and nature of community, local and global heroes), science (human nature, life cycle, environmental issues), math (measurement, geometry), art/music/technology (artistic expression, communication) allows this lesson to ‘stand’ as powerful example of the interdisciplinary nature of learning.
2. The music can be played as either an introduction (anticipatory set) or can be used establish a tone for the class as a background setting. Analyzing each music piece also adds dimension and depth to this lesson.
3. Use the Circles of Strength handout for this lesson which suggests a starting point for general discussion and offers basic reflection questions. Students/staff are encouraged to add their own questions, reflections to the piece.
4. Students should be encouraged to share their ideas, thoughts and creations within the immediate community within which they create their circle before it is publicly displayed.
5. Students should be guided through working cooperatively together to design and create the finished mural.
6. A small but symbolic “celebration” should be created to “unveil” the mural for the school/community.
As this activity is designed to target students strengths and creative expression, the final product will vary depending upon the method of expression selected (written, visual, etc.). Assessment using a rubric which defines and details the specific elements required within each particular product is recommended.