Classroom Activities

  • Six-Word Memoirs: Introducing College Students to Storytelling in Six Words

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs: Introducing College Students to Storytelling in Six Words

    Christina Mayes, a professor of a first-year “Mastering College” seminar class at the Dominican University of California, has been supporting students’ healthy transition into college life through Six-Word Memoirs for the last eight years. It’s her answer to the question: what is the importance of using varied methods and strategies in teaching. She discovered Six-Word Memoirs in 2011 through a guest speaker, who ended up leading her 101 seminar through the process of writing their own memoir in six words. The format quickly became one of the professor’s most effective teaching strategies.

  • Six-Word Memoirs Teaches Teachers How to Have Tough Conversations in Schools

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs Teaches Teachers How to Have Tough Conversations in Schools

    Cayla Tangney, an art teacher at Minisink Valley High School, first came across Six-Word Memoirs when she and nine other teachers in her district took a “Teaching Tough Topics” professional development class. The course educated Cayla and her colleagues on speaking about topics like sexual orientation, immigration, and race and ethnicity respectively and proactively with their students. The class offered an overview of stereotypes and injustices throughout history, and how they still persist today. Since the role of teacher in developing creativity and innovation in the classroom is crucial, the Tough Topics class introduced examples of creative thinking activities and how to promote creativity in schools to have those tough conversations. Six-Word Memoirs was specifically promoted as a tool teachers could use to provoke thoughtful classroom discussion about identity and global awareness.

  • Six-Word Memoirs: An adaptable, Innovative Tool for Teachers

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs: An adaptable, Innovative Tool for Teachers

    Cathy Dyer has used Six-Word Memoirs as a classroom tool for teachers every year since 2009: “This is the only ice breaker activity that I’ve stuck with,” she explains. As a tenth grade English teacher at McKeel Academy of Technology in Lakeland, Florida, Cathy’s first activity of the year is to write a Six-Word Memoir, accompanied by a backstory and a small illustration. These are then shared and displayed on her classroom walls.

  • Six-Word Memoirs Are a Great English Class Activity for Ninth Graders

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs Are a Great English Class Activity for Ninth Graders

    When Catherine Dison came across Six-Word Memoirs, she knew it was something she had to introduce as a classroom activity for English students. “I loved the combination of words and image, and of course the challenge of packing as much as possible into six words,” says Catherine, an English teacher for the past 27 years at The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio. She knew it would be a fun English activity for her 9th graders.

  • Students Explore Identity With a Helpful Six Word Writing Activity

    by Six In Schools Students Explore Identity With a Helpful Six Word Writing Activity

    Caroline Carty, a 9th grade English teacher at Sunset Park High School in Brooklyn, New York, finds Six-Word Memoirs an ideal writing activity for students to explore the theme of identity.

  • Six-Word Teacher Workshop

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Teacher Workshop
    In a partnership with the Indiana Learning Lab, Larry Smith, the founder of Six-Word Memoirs, shares his unique approach to storytelling, highlight stories from classrooms’ six-word projects, and leads workshop attendees in a “Six-Word Slam.”
  • Six-Words Teaches Students How to Tell Their Stories in School

    by Six In Schools Six-Words Teaches Students How to Tell Their Stories in School

    We think of schooling in sequential categories—moving from first grade to second, looking forward, never back. It makes sense; preschool is vastly different from middle school. PTA members Bridget Kolb and Amy Miller of Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky, managed to bridge those differences with a writing program for elementary students. They brought the grades together through an activity involving just six words.

  • Unique Six-Word Poetry and Art Projects for Sixth Grade

    by Six In Schools Unique Six-Word Poetry and Art Projects for Sixth Grade

    Here at Team Six, we love to see Six-Word Memoir art and poetry project ideas. And while the six word format is most often used for reflection and to share personal stories, Betsy DiJulio - an art teacher at Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach - challenged her students to a fun poetry activity that uses their art with a Six-Word twist.

  • Six in Schools is a Simplistic Creative Thinking Strategy for Students

    by Six In Schools Six in Schools is a Simplistic Creative Thinking Strategy for Students

    At Arrowhead Union High School in Hartland, Wisconsin, Becca McCann’s classroom walls are covered with colorful memoirs written by her past students. The impact of Six-Word Memoirs (SWM), and using it as a creative thinking strategy for students, was already thriving in other classrooms. When she first arrived at the district, her colleagues Terri Carnell and Elizabeth Jorgenson had already been participating in SWM for more than a decade and suggested similar assignments as creativity activities for students.

  • Six-Word Memoirs Has its Own Powerful Set of Writing Strategies

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs Has its Own Powerful Set of Writing Strategies

    The Six-Word format was introduced to Andrea Vinikoff in high school, and continued to follow her into college where she was assigned Six-Word Memoirs in some of her classes. When the English teacher began instructing sixth graders at Princess Anne Middle School in Virginia Beach - and needed to build a toolkit of writing strategies for teachers - it felt natural to embrace the versatility of Six-Words in her own classroom. “It felt like a sign that Six-Words kept coming up and was being used in all of these academic writing strategies related to the curriculum. Because I had so much fun creating Six-Word Memoirs in my formative years, I decided to find ways to incorporate them into my classroom as writing strategies for students,” she says.

  • Quickly Develop Creativity in Your Students by Using Six In Schools

    by Six In Schools Quickly Develop Creativity in Your Students by Using Six In Schools

    How do students get on a path for success when high school graduation is in jeopardy? Mount Tom Academy in Holyoke, Massachusetts, located on the campus of Holyoke Community College, offers an alternative learning program for at-risk high school students. Barbara Cheney, Mount Tom’s lead teacher, recently discovered the value of Six-Word Memoirs as an effective tool in student engagement.

  • Six-Word Memoirs Challenges High Schoolers to Tell Their Own Stories

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs Challenges High Schoolers to Tell Their Own Stories
    Drew’s first group of high school seniors are fittingly known as the Legacy Class because they would make history by bringing the school’s mission to fruition. As these young students worked diligently to complete high school and prepare for college, we suggested Six-Word Memoirs as a useful tool to enhance writing skills for high school students. A tool to help these students reflect on their journeys and their achievements, both academically and personally. The timing was serendipity—Drew’s graduation committee was looking for a way to showcase students in their upcoming commencement ceremony. Rachel Kaney, Drew’s Director of College and Career Readiness, believed that Six-Words, as a creative writing activity, would add value to the senior class experience.
  • Six-Word Memoirs: Teacher Tests Out New Way to Teach Writing

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs: Teacher Tests Out New Way to Teach Writing

    We’ve been challenging the Six-Word community with a new contest every month for years, but this year, New York City public school teacher Andrea Franks took the monthly model to her 4/5th grade classroom as a way of how to teach writing to elementary students. Andrea first heard of Six-Word Memoirs over the summer of 2020, after a former parent emailed her about an interesting project her kids were doing at the middle school, which helped with how to develop writing skills in students. Andrea immediately visited the Six-Word Memoirs website, dove into the memoirs, and watched founder Larry Smith’s TEDx talk. 

  • Six-Words is a Valuable Strategy to Improve Writing Skills

    by Six In Schools Six-Words is a Valuable Strategy to Improve Writing Skills

    Amy O’Meara brought Six-Word Memoirs to her classes at Temple Terrace Elementary in Florida after being introduced to the concept by Cathy Dyer, a neighboring teacher who was working on strategies in teaching writing. As someone who takes the role of teacher in developing writing skills seriously, Amy wanted her students to focus on the importance of choosing the right words, a strategy Amy considers useful in how to teach writing to students. “I can’t think of a better way to teach a child how powerful words can be when you can only use six of them.” The Six-Word form was a simple way to demonstrate how word choice can evoke a specific emotion or reaction from the reader - a strategy to improve writing skills - especially when writing memoirs.

  • Easily use Six-Words to build an inclusive creative writing curriculum

    by Six In Schools Easily use Six-Words to build an inclusive creative writing curriculum

    Aly Chatham, Kelsey Joyce, and Kendra Volpe are a trio of dynamic co-teachers leading BVP’s 6th grade English Language Arts (ELA) team at Middle School. They were introduced to Six-Word Memoirs through a creative writing curriculum guide distributed by the school’s administration: “Six-Word Memoirs were included in a creative writing unit plan compiled by our curriculum director,” Kelsey explained.

  • Six Word Challenge: Creative writing prompts for middle schoolers

    by Six In Schools Six Word Challenge: Creative writing prompts for middle schoolers
    At Trinity School for Children in Florida, English Core teacher Jenny Hess likes to start her school year by learning more about her middle school students through writing prompts. So, in August 2021, after brainstorming writing topics and writing prompts for beginners over the summer, Jenny started a three-day lesson in introductions using Six-Word Memoirs. The creative writing prompts for this classroom project enabled her students to showcase their abilities in writing and illustration, but also gave them the opportunity to mine for the essence of their personalities. By the end of this self reflection activity, her students were not only aware of the literary influence of Papa Hemingway, but they learned how to write a memoir, and discovered the power of their individual voices.
  • Six-Word Memoirs: Students Learn How To Tell Their Own Stories In Six Words

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs: Students Learn How To Tell Their Own Stories In Six Words
    In August 2020 and 2021, two middle school classrooms at Mohave Middle School in Arizona spent a week weaving the world around them into a six-word narrative on their lives. When arranged on a linear timeline, the difference in the tone of the memoirs speaks for itself — the world is yet to return to its pre-pandemic state, but the intensity of 2020 has notably faded since.
  • Climate Change Champions: 6 Words Make Students Powerful Environmental Advocates

    by Six In Schools Climate Change Champions: 6 Words Make Students Powerful Environmental Advocates
    Earlier this month, Team Six had the delightful experience of meeting with Ann Zivotsky and Janis Jones to discuss their very unique Six-Word project: 6 Words for the Environment.
  • 4 Simple Methods to Perfect Personal Narrative for Students

    by Six In Schools 4 Simple Methods to Perfect Personal Narrative for Students

    In January 2022, a classroom of 5th graders at Maplewood Elementary School in MO, looked themselves in the metaphorical mirror to discover their true identity — and those of their peers. This two-day activity inspired 5th grade core teacher, Lexi Sinnett, to launch her first ever English class memoir unit with Six-Word Memoirs . Now, Sinnett is confident that the concept will continue to be a part of the Maplewood Elementary family.

  • Creative Six In Schools Activity Tested and Endorsed Schoolwide

    by Six In Schools Creative Six In Schools Activity Tested and Endorsed Schoolwide

    Creative expression is a staple in building an innovative, educational environment. Arts and College Preparatory Academy (ACPA) in Columbus, Ohio, provides progressive, rigorous academic instruction where students are motivated to learn and prepare for college. A hallmark of the ACPA community is allowing students the freedom of full artistic expression and movement in a safe, inclusive climate. These qualities are all factors that enhance creativity and make ACPA the perfect home for Six-Word Memoirs to thrive.

  • Six-Word Memoirs Publishes Students' Authentic Six Word Stories

    by Six In Schools Six-Word Memoirs Publishes Students' Authentic Six Word Stories

    Six-Word founder, Larry Smith, and Bay-Area colleague, Allie Wollner, visited Berkeley High School (BHS) in California - famously known for its activism - to talk about Six-Word Memoirs’ book on immigration Fresh Off the Boat. After explaining the premise, Larry and Allie offered the students the chance at student publishing and to have their memoirs featured in the book. From freshman to seniors, students jumped enthusiastically at the opportunity to publish student writing, and started crafting their six word immigration stories of coming to America. 

  • Easy 10 Minute Creative Writing Activity Perfect for Groups

    by Six In Schools Easy 10 Minute Creative Writing Activity Perfect for Groups
    We can learn a great deal by examining ourselves and others, particularly when we ponder our words. Fifth grade teacher Amber Lewis-Francis first heard about Six-Word Memoirs on NPR. Always encouraging her students to write about themselves, Amber thought it would be a fun creative writing activity for her students. “They embraced this concept,” she said of her students at Clarendon Elementary School in San Francisco. “I think it was freeing for them to only think about six words.”
  • Art Students KCAI Get the Opportunity to Become Published Authors

    by Six In Schools Art Students KCAI Get the Opportunity to Become Published Authors

    For five consecutive years, more than 100 students at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) in Kansas City, Missouri, have graced the world with their artistic creations inspired by their own, personal Six-Word Memoirs. In 2021, however, students and recent graduates had the opportunity to directly collaborate with Six-Word Memoirs on its book, A Terrible Horrible, No Good Year: Six-Word Stories On the Pandemic by Teachers, Students, and Parents, a creative way to publish student writing.

  • Beautiful Ways for 8th Graders at Redwood City Middle to Publish Their Writing

    by Six In Schools Beautiful Ways for 8th Graders at Redwood City Middle to Publish Their Writing
    At Kennedy Middle School in Redwood City, CA, 8th grade students published their own books and excitedly shared their Six-Word Memoirs. Their English teacher, Cynthia Wilson, even shared that her students signed each other’s books - just like a yearbook - placing their names next to their memoirs. The students, now published authors, would have a physical copy of their eighth grade memories, experiences, and writing skills.
  • Teacher Began School Year With Six-Word Memoirs as a Way to Help Students

    by Six In Schools Teacher Began School Year With Six-Word Memoirs as a Way to Help Students
    Houston, Texas-based teacher Adriana Hernandez first heard about Six-Word Memoirs through a coworker at Albright Middle School who had bought a Six-Word Memoirs book after hearing an interview on NPR. Adriana found the book extremely interesting as a creative way to publish student writing: “Student publishing and Six-Word Memoirs had stuck in my mind over the last few years, so I thought I’d try and introduce it to my kids.”
  • Creative Writing for AP English: How to Build Student's Self-Awareness in Six Words

    by Six In Schools Creative Writing for AP English: How to Build Student's Self-Awareness in Six Words

    In November 2021, a classroom of 11th graders at Harrison High School in New Jersey shared the depths of their souls while simultaneously juggling the brevity that comes with Six-Word Memoirs. The brave act of exposing their inner lives to each other and the class, using creative writing exercises for students, surprised AP English Language teacher, Lauren Rodriguez. She has been teaching high schoolers - and creating activities for writing skills - for over two decades. “I think just the fact that they can admit sometimes that they’re unmotivated, or overwhelmed—it usually surprises me that they’re willing to write about that.”