No Name-Calling Week: Celebrate With One Word Gifts
I tell my students that if they end the school year taking only one nugget that they’ve learned
from me, I’d like it to be the gift of being kind. In every person’s life, there are always ways to
show kindness to others. I demonstrate this in my classroom in a variety of ways: shout-outs in
class for kids who were “caught” showing kindness, “Kind” word walls filled synonyms, or quotes
that inspire and encourage more compassion in our world.
Another thing I like to do is to write “kind notes” on students’ desks. Whose desk I choose is randomly selected, yet tracked, so that I make sure I get to everyone throughout the school year. I leave cute sticky notes or use washable markers to write on the desk itself. The substance of the note can be as simple as saying how proud you are to see that kiddo try and persevere in math or reading. The students love receiving them and it always sends a special message that these are personal notes meant only for them.
Our No Name-Calling Week project
In my class we started the new year brainstorming one word of inspiration that would motivate
us for all of 2018. I decided to take this one-word idea and mash it up into a student project to
commemorate No Name-Calling Week (January 15–19). Obviously, however, these activities
are appropriate for any time of the year.
Here’s the idea:
- Ask students to consider the notion of moving away from “name-calling” as a negative
- Challenge students with: what if they could call their classmate a name that classmate
would love? What one word could be used to describe them in a positive way? What one
name would they gift the student with?
- Give your students a class list and allow some time for a brainstorming session. I start with an example on the board, such as: “I would give Jonathan the name caring because he always stays behind at recess to help clean up the lunch area.”
- Have students come up with one word for each of their classmates and write them down.
The next step is to make word clouds for each student using the descriptors that their
classmates assigned them. I’ve done this a couple of ways:
The non-tech way
Give each student the same number of sticky notes as the number of students in your class. Students then write each of their classmate’s names and the descriptive word on each sticky note.
Now, give each student a piece of construction paper with their own name written nice and big
in the middle. Students go around the classroom and put the sticky note describing a student on
that student’s construction paper.
The tech-enhanced way
Use a Google Form with all of your students’ names and one fill-in-the-blank question under each name. Students log into the form and type in their descriptive word for each student. Aggregate their responses into a word cloud website like Tagxedo and create a word cloud for each student. The more times a word is repeated, the larger that word appears in the cloud.
The end result
The end result of either process is a gorgeous display with all the positive one-word traits that describe that student. I laminate them and have students use them as nameplates.
These one-word gifts of kindness remind students of all the many names they can call their classmates and make a huge, positive impact. They are also a daily visual reminder of how kind we all can —and should try—to be to each other, all year long.
Kriscia Cabral is an elementary school teacher in Poway, California where she teaches a diverse student population of fourth and fifth graders. Kabral teaches with purpose in mind, hoping to help her students discover their passion and how to pursue their goals. She lives with her husband and two kids.