Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources

SEL Words of the Week

PURPOSE: Words of the Week are designed to focus school-wide or class-specific attention on a single Positive Action concept. There are thirty-six words, one for each week of the school year. The words and their definitions were purposefully selected to reinforce the corresponding concepts in the lessons.



Words of the Week and definitions


Words of the Week Slides, Words of the Week 30 per page



School-Wide Initiative In a school-wide initiative, teachers and all support staff members receive a stack of 180 cards (5 cards of each word) at the beginning of the year. The cards should be awarded to students whom they see using the positive action indicated on the card. All of the cards should be used during the year.

It is suggested that at the beginning of each week, the word for the week be introduced school-wide (such as over the intercom) as well as in each classroom. The word should be practiced as much as possible during the week by everyone in the school.

There are many creative ways to enhance and make each word more meaningful. The words can be made into banners and used on school calendars, lunch menus, announcements, and notes sent home. In the classroom, they can be used in handouts, writing assignments, spelling and vocabulary activities, art and computer projects, and in many other interesting ways.

Teacher Initiative Teachers can use the Words of the Week with each definition as part of their weekly routine. At the beginning of each week, a teacher displays the word and definition.

Consider utilizing one or more of the following prompts to facilitate discussion with students around the Word of the Week and its meaning in order to make learning interactive and meaningful:

  • Think about this word, what do you think it means? (While covering the definition, use the word in an example sentence, if support is needed.)
  • Share an example of how you might use this word. Or share how you have seen this word in action.
  • Why do you think it is important for us to talk about this Word of the Week?
  • Ask students to connect this week’s word to a previous word. How are they connected? How are they the same? Different?
  • Draw or find an image to represent the Word of the Week. Share the image and why you selected it.
  • How might you explain the meaning of the Word of Week in your own words to a friend?
  • Do you know how to say this word in a language other than English? Or can you find out how to say the word in another language? Share with your classmates. Is the translation of the word in another language similar or different from the word in English?
  • What word might have the opposite meaning of the Word of the Week? How is it different? How is the Word of the Week the better positive action?
  • Without speaking, using positive gestures and movements, how might you act out the Word of the Week?