One Little Word


When January comes around, everyone is thinking about how to make this year better than the previous one.  Often we make resolutions, but they tend to get left behind.  I resolve to walk every day and am met with cold air and ice and think, maybe next week.  

Our students are no different from the rest of us.  The beginning of the year falls in the middle of the school year, so it’s a good time to take stock and think about how this year is going and how we can make it better.  During our first week back from the break, my students are tired.  (How can you have two weeks off and be so tired?)  It’s that weather thing again.  January is bleak and rainy and cold.  Who wants to get out of a cozy bed and come to school?

So I take things slow.  I don’t push them back into long writing assignments.  I use an exercise that I’ve learned about in my own blogging—the practice of choosing One Little Word.

One Little Word is less intimidating than a long list of resolutions.  This word guides your year, defines who you are or want to be.  I share my word with my students as well as the thought process I went through to find it.  We go through a series of questions to get our thoughts brewing. Last year, I created this Emaze slide show:

  • What is important to me?
  • What goal do I want to fulfill?
  • What do I want to strive for?
  • Who do I want to be?
  • What quality in others do I admire?
  • What is a strength I want to grow?
  • What is a weakness I want to work on?
  • What do I wish for?

After they brainstorm ideas in their journals and make a semantic web, they look on the Internet for synonyms.  In this part of the exercise, my students enjoy finding words that may fit better or that they like the sound of.  Type the chosen word into a dictionary app.  Click on synonyms to see more synonyms.  I suggest they try this at least three times to settle on the just right word.

Writing a poem about the chosen word helps my students take on ownership of their word.  I encourage them to share their words, the process to finding it, and their poems on Kidblog.  Then they read and respond to classmates in encouraging ways.

This exercise led Kielan to the word “Sparkle.”  This word fit her goals like a glove.  She was in her last year of elementary school and she wanted it to be the best year ever.

It’s a new year. It’s 2016!!!!! A new year and a time for change. I want to change this year. I want to be bold and stand out. I want to be fearless. So for my one little word I chose SPARKLE.

SPARKLE- (my acrostic poem)

Stand Out

Past is the past




Like a hero


There are over a billion stars in the sky. Out of all those stars, there is one particular star that stands out from the rest. All those stars are one color, but this star is all colors. Blue, Red, Green, Purple, you name it. I want to be just like that star. I want to be bold, stand out, sparkle, and be like no other.

by Kielan, January, 2016

Finding and sharing One Little Word can lead students to a deeper understanding of who they are and who they want to be.  They connect with each other and build a stronger learning community. There is nothing wrong with making typical New Year’s resolutions. But this year, instead of a long list of things to do that you probably won’t do, try a word—One Little Word.

About the Author
Margaret Simon lives on the Bayou Teche in New Iberia, Louisiana. Margaret has a Masters degree in Gifted Education and certification by the National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards. She received the Donald Graves Award for teaching writing from NCTE in 2014. Her young readers novel, Blessen, was published by Border Press in April, 2012. She blogs regularly at

One comment

  1. Pamela Thomas

    One carefully chosen word – love this!

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