Using Six-Word Memoirs in Your Classroom

15 Oct

Six Word Memoirs

This site has been around since 2005 and while it’s a fabulous web 2.0, social site for folks to share short snippets of their lives it can also be used in education as well.  Inspired by the urban legend (undetermined according to Snopes) that Ernest Hemingway once won a bet by writing a six-word story, “For sale.  Baby shoes.  Never worn.”  Six-Word Memoirs invites users to do the same thing and tell the tale of their lives, or tell a story in the same number of words as the literary master. Students are always asking that “when can we use this” question, so I ask you, “How can we use this in education?”

  • Use this concept as a writing prompt in a warm-up exercise for students.  Have them write a six-word story describing their weekend, or to describe a photo or picture prompt.  This not only forces brevity, but also can be used to help them fine more useful adjectives or descriptive phrases if you put a stop on certain words that are available to them
  • In a cross-curricular classroom, or to get more visual learning in your lesson, you can have students browse the site, or you can choose several of the user submitted memoirs and have the students sketch what they believe the story to be.  You might be surprised at how many different images you get, or stories you can see from the same six-words.
  • One of the newer features of the site is that certain six-word memoirs are selected and the submitters also provide the back-story for their memoir.  Your students can do the same thing in a longer writing prompt.  Choose one memoir from the site and ask them to write a short, one paragraph back-story, speculating what the story might be about.  Pick one that actually has a back-story submitted then share that with the students to see if they were close.
  • Combine this concept with a picture or photo prompt by using a prompt depicting lots of emotion or actions, then having students caption the prompt in only six words.  Limit or require a certain vocabulary word or descriptor to make it into the caption and see how creative they can become!

If you choose to use the six-word memoirs in your class, as with any web 2.0, user driven site make sure you always read through and check for anything that might be inappropriate for your class as the content changes daily, if not hourly.  As an alternative, you might want to check out the Six-Word Memoirs by Teens as an alternative.

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Posted by on October 15, 2012 in Tips & Tricks, Websites


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