Six Word Memoirs- So Simple, Yet So Profound

26 01 2014

I recently had my students write their own six word memoirs. If you haven’t seen any of the books, there are multiple Six Word Memoirs that Smith Magazine has compiled. The most recent is my favorite-I Can’t Keep My Own Secret:Six Word Memoirs by Teens Famous and Obscure.

These are memoirs that tell an entire story in only six words. I was nervous about having my student’s try this because I wasn’t sure if they would get it and be able to think of their own. I showed them examples from the book (see below) and then made some of my own examples. I showed them how I brainstormed my ideas, and then edited to get it to say just what I wanted. I then gave the students a planning sheet and let them loose- well they wowed me!

They created such amazing six word memoirs. Some were funny, sad, powerful, light, deep… they had them all!!!!  I had them write their six word memoir on large notecards and then illustrate or color them to fit the tone of the memoir. I put them up on a bulletin board and they loved looking at everyone’s memoirs! Some wrote more than one, and some have been doing them “for fun!” :)

Some of the examples I showed them from the book are below:

Met online; love before first sight.

I fulfilled my awkwardness quota today.

I’m seventeen, engaged, and not pregnant.

My mom had my boyfriend deported.

Late for school every single day.

According to Facebook, we broke up.

Here are pictures I took of six word memoirs from my kids:


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6 responses

18 11 2009
Stacy Nockowitz

I love this! Do you remember some years ago when there was a music video in which people were holding up postcards that told some kind of secret about themselves? I wish I could recall what the song was. Anyway, thanks for another great idea!

21 03 2013
Molly Frazier

Dirty Little Secret by the All-American Rejects

29 11 2009
Stacy Nockowitz

Anne-
I am going to give this a try later this week. What did your planning sheet look like?

29 11 2009
writereadtalk

Hi- I had my students make a list of facts about themselves. For example: Where do you live? How many siblings do you have? What are your favorite things to do, favorite foods, favorite places,etc.? What important events have happened in your life? What is important to you? They wrote those ideas in a box.
Then I had them choose six words from their list to summarize some aspect of who they are or what they are like. I encouraged them to mainly use nouns and verbs (strong words).
I also gave them a list of examples. Honestly just showing them numerous examples got them thinking. Most didn’t need to go through the planning sheet, they started writing them!
Hope this helps

30 11 2009
Stacy Nockowitz

Absolutely! Thanks! One other question: How did you avoid the “O.K., I’m done!” after ten seconds thing? It seems like there might be kids who just write their six words and want to be done with it. Did you have a way of combating that?

1 12 2009
writereadtalk

I really didn’t have any problems. The kids thought they were cool and different. They wanted to try to create their own after seeing a youtube video with examples, seeing mine and reading other teen examples. I told them they could also submit to Word Smith online and have a chance to get them published in a future book if they wanted to. Many of mine wanted to create more than one. It did take some kids a while to figure out what to say. I also have them color or illustrate their note card so that took some time. Hope this helps- Ann

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