Condensing Our Stories: Six-Word Memoirs (Amy)

Another school year finished. Reflection time. ~ Six-Word Memoir

It’s officially the last day of school for students and Monday is a teacher work day. I should be grading the growing pile of essay exams that sit on my desk, but instead I find myself jotting reflective notes in my journal about the strengths and weaknesses of the 2011-2012 school year. A sketch of how I would physically like my classroom to look next year has even started to take shape. Over the past eleven years I have found that I need to change things up often, not only with my lesson plans, but with the visual aspect of my classroom. As an English teacher I often feel overwhelmed with the paper clutter, forgotten visual aids, and the assortment of artifacts my students leave behind. Early in my teaching career I learned that I can’t save all the engaging projects that my students have created. Fortunately, technology allows me to capture digital images to use as models for future students. Today I made a note in my journal that I need to be extra mindful of cataloging classroom projects next year because this year I failed miserably in documentation. Plus, this will really put the new camera gifted to my classroom by a Donors Choose project to great use!

Heather and I have been so busy that we have not really had the opportunity to talk lately. Sometimes we dart into each other’s classrooms for a quick conversation and often at the end of the school day I stop into the computer lab where she runs the after school homework lab. As always, I value the personal and professional friendship that Heather and I share. I cannot imagine not having her teach across the hall from me. I honestly would be lost without her listening ear to vent, laugh, and share teaching ideas. Heather is one of the greatest sources of inspiration for me and I secretly wish that we could team teach together. What an amazing adventure that would be!

Last year, Heather had her sophomores create riveting videos based on the prompt, “If you could say three words to world, what would you say?” Blogger Deb Day commented on Heather’s post by mentioning that a Six-Word Memoir project would also make a great video. I was curious about this project and wanted to learn more.  I discovered a plethora of information that pointed to a 2006 article in Smith Magazine that created the Six-Word Memoir frenzy.

My 9th grade English students enjoyed discussing the legend about Hemingway giving rise to the Six-Word Memoir when he was challenged to write a story in six words. The story credited to Hemingway is, ““For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” My students came up with multiple meanings for Hemingway’s story. As a class project I decided that we would write our own memoirs.  Each student was given a blank piece of white computer paper and instructed to choose six words that either explain their “life story” or their “philosophy of life.” Illustrating their Six-Word Memoir was recommended. As an alternate to the piece of paper they could also turn in a photo file. After a late night of scanning photos I used Movie Maker to create a video of our memoirs. My creative writing students also created Six-Word Memoirs and some choose to give the project a neat twist by creating, “A Dozen Words for 2012.”

My students enjoyed watching the video and I thought I would blog them out today (especially since I only got two hours of sleep on Wednesday night to create them). Thank you so much to Heather and Deb Day for the inspiration! Maybe another teacher will see this blog post and add the Three Words to the World or the Six-Word Memoir project to their growing “to do list” and end-of-year reflection.

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4 Responses to Condensing Our Stories: Six-Word Memoirs (Amy)

  1. Courtney beecher says:

    Amy- I love the twelve words for 2012, truly inspiring 🙂

  2. Deb Day says:

    These are fabulous. I loved how they turned out. I was trying to keep track of my favorites, but there were just too many. I hope you don’t mind if I pin this to my writing board. I want to remember to show this to my creative writing and English 9 students next school year. We’re going to start with reflective writing and these will definitely inspire them as they write their own.

  3. Pingback: My Six-Word Memoir « lindalouisereiki

  4. Nancy Nelson says:

    Love your writing

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