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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Fresh Writing Sparks!

1 02 2011

It is always nice to get some fresh writing spark ideas. Here are some new ideas I have used, or have been thinking about. What are some writing sparks you like, and more importantly get the kids thinking and writing ?

Here are some one liners that let them take it wherever they want to go (lists, poems, stories, short passages, memoirs etc..):

If you really knew me….

I believe….

What I wish the world would hear me roar…

This is my message to___________

What gives me hope:

Lucky- I show my students the video below and give them the word lucky and they go with it- I find that this spark brings out lots of writing ideas for them!





Out with the Prompts, in with the Sparks!

29 11 2009

Over the past few years of teaching, I have noticed that students want choice, choice in what they read and what they write. I completely agree with them. As adults, we don’t like being told what to read. If we start reading a book and don’t like it, we put it down. I encourage my students to do the same thing- if you don’t like a book, choose something else. There are too many good books out there to read one you don’t like. I also believe that there is a book for everyone, if people don’t like to read, they haven’t found a book genre they enjoy yet.

To get back to my original point of this post, I found that having students write to a prompt, doesn’t work. They create pieces that are manufactured to fit what we want to read, not necessarily what they care about. Instead of giving my student’s prompts, I ry to give them sparks- or ideas to get them started writing about what they know and care.

I also have found that students sometimes need a spark to ignite their fire when writing. When I do my warm it up at the beginning of class. I usually show the students an object, quote, or picture. Sometimes we listen to a song and write and I even show some video clips to spark ideas. I have found or thought of  too many ideas to actually use them all in one year. I thought I would share some of the places that I get my inspiration for writing “sparks”

When I show them these sparks, I tell them they can always write about what comes to mind, what the picture, song, object, video clip is about or anything else they want.

Writing Spark ideas:

Time Picture of the Week: http://www.time.com/time/potw/

MSNBC  Week in Pictures: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3842331/

You Tube Video La Chance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nD19Os5oUTg – I had my students write about being lucky, or a time when they had luck etc.. Some of my students wrote about one of the events they saw on this video.

You Tube video :  it is a story of two Cleveland high schoolers featured one sunday on ESPN a few months ago- get the tissues.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O04L0XboS8c

The Beatles Song- We Can Work It Out– I told my students they could write about a time when they had a disagreement,or how they worked out differences.





Mining for Gold~Finding the Golden Lines

9 11 2009

IMG_0720

* I can’t figure  out how change the orientation of this picture I took of my Mining for gold poster- turn your head to check it out!! 🙂 )*

I often have students Mining for Gold, or finding the Golden Lines in writing. I started the year off by exposing them to writing from all different genres and from professional writers to former students. I started by telling them that I was going to read a piece aloud, and they were to read along and then we were going to Mine foe Gold, or find the golden lines.

Mining For Gold

a passage, phrase or sentence that :

Makes you wonder

Makes you laugh

Makes you sad or upset

Connects with your life

Is your favorite

Sounds poetic

This is a simple warm up activity that I do a few days a week. At first the students didn’t really know what to say, and just commented if there was a grammatical error or word they didn’t understand. I  would always share the first few times, pointing out lines that stood out to me, words that resonated, etc…. As time went on, the student’s responses became much deeper. They were looking at the writing as a writer.

After a few weeks of just commenting on the work, we then moved to “next steps” for the writer. We would give suggestions that the writer could do to improve their piece. Now that we have written various pieces, I ask some students if I can put their writing piece on the Elmo*** to share with the class. Eventually I hope to have my students bring in their own passages to use golden lines.

***I always put the writing piece on my Elmo (if you don’t have one of these – do everything you can to get one- it’s my BEST Friend in the classroom! http://www.elmousa.com/).





Election Day!

3 11 2009

Power of Democracy

My school district had a levy on the ballot today. We haven’t passed a levy since 2001- and we are in dire need of passing this one today!

As I was driving home, I couldn’t resist stopping and snapping this picture. Two next door neighbors both exercising their right to voice their opinion. 3 NO school Tax Levy signs, right next to Three Yes for School signs.

This is a great, real life example, of democracy!





Spark Student’s Creative Writing Thoughts

1 11 2009

Secret Knowledge of Gorwn upsI read The Secret Knowledge of Grown Ups by David Wisniewski to my students last week. Not only did they get a kick out of it, they also wrote some really creative stuff!  This is a unique picture book that takes many rules that adults tell children and then gives the reason that adults have for the rule. Sometimes the reasons behind the rules often don’t seem to make any sense. The books shows children the real reasons for adult rules. For example:  for the rule eat your vegetables, adults say that children to do this to be healthy. The real reason that the book reveals is that once giant vegetables ruled the world. We have to eat veggies so they never take over again.

I read a few rules and reasons to my students so they got the idea for the format of the book.  During warm up writing time I gave them other rules in the book and they came up with their own reasons. They did an awesome job! For example for the rule don’t jump on your bed, one of my student’s said that the reason adults tell kids this is because it will wake up the monsters under the bed.





The Importance of Writing Daily

28 10 2009

It is so important to have students write daily, even if it is only for a few minutes and it is extremely important for students to see you writing and sharing with them. Writing WITH the students shows students that you value writing and it is important to you. I know it is so tempting to do all those classroom tasks while they are quietly working, but think about what that is conveying to your kids. If you have to do the classroom tasks, at least write before class and explain that you wrote earlier in the day and share some of your writing.

Every day, even on days when I don’t do writing workshop, I have them do what I call a “Warm It Up”. I give the students something to think about and then let them write for about 5-7 min. They can write about the prompt idea, OR anything else they want. {I do hate the word prompt. So many times teachers, myself included in the past, have given students a meaningless prompt and asked them to write about it. For example, write about a time with your pet. What about those of us who don’t have pets??!! } I encourage the to continue writing the entire time.

Today I showed them the book: Life’s Little Instruction Book: 511 Suggestions, Observations, and Reminders on How to Live a Happy and Rewarding Life. by Jackson Brown Jr.

Life's Instruction bookI had them come up with advice, funny, witty, serious, about school, life, teenagers etc.. and share them. It was great to hear what they wrote. I even am considering having my classes write their own advice book. It may be an end of the year project that they leave for future students??

I loved that when I told them to put their writer’s notebooks away, they were still frantically jotting down more advice that came to mind as others were sharing! 🙂








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