Do your students write goals? It can be an effective way to have students learn to take responsibility for their behavior or learning. We tried something new this year. Students chose a power word instead of goal.
Back to school is a great time to be reflective about past years in school and what positive changes you and your students can make to have a wonderful year together.
What is a Power Word?
Instead of a motto or a goal, having just one word to try to strive for or say can be a powerful way to realign yourself with your priorities. Over the years we’ve had power words to help us stay focused on our goals. Some of our words have been: jump, fearless, simplify and cheese (that one was a reminder to have fun more often).
This is the perfect activity to use on the first day of school or the first day back after a long break. If you’re looking for other activities for back to school try our post Ten Things We Do on the First Day Back to School.
How to Get Your Students Thinking About Power Words
We started with a classroom brainstorm session where we listed as many power words as possible. There were a few examples on the list when we started so students could gain a sense of what types of words might work. After fifteen minutes we ran out of room on our chart paper, so we knew students were ready to pick their own words.
When you’re collecting words with your class, all words should be included. Don’t judge any words but allow students to talk about what the word means to them if students want to share.
What Do You Do With the Words?
We asked our students think about how the word looks to them when they see it in their head. We didn’t mean how it looked as a picture, but did they see the word with fat, bold letters, or swirly, curly letters.
Students were given half of an 8×11 sheet of paper folded lengthwise and were asked to write out their power word in an interesting way your students coloured and drew and made their words their own.
You could definitely make your class’s words bigger or smaller, but this was the size chose because we knew they could fit on our bulletin board.
Ninja Note: Before your students get too far, check their spelling. We had a lit of acheiving and beleeving one year.
What to Do With the Words Once They’re Made
Each student was photographed with their power word. We printed these in colour on a full page size and students placed these in the front of their daily work binder.
It was a constant reminder to aim to live up to their power word.
We also created a display in our classroom where we hung all of our power words for the entire year. It was a great conversation piece between students and guests to our classroom. Students were challenged to come up with interesting and creative words and loved the idea of making visual representations of their words. We’ve included this lesson and many more like it in our Back to School Activity Bundle.
Another way to display the words is on your welcome bulletin board. We start off our board blank except for the word welcome which contains many different languages that also say welcome. Welcoming our students in their native languages started as a simple tradition years ago and now we have well over thirty languages included on our welcome wall.
We post the power words all around the welcome sign and this bulletin board stays this way for the most part all year. You can get your own copy of the Multicultural Welcome Bulletin Board for free or you can find it in our Resource Library.
It’s so important to make all of your students feel welcome. It empowers them. We encourage you to give it a try with your students this year. Let us know your power words in the comments below.