When Smith Magazine introduced their edgy story-telling concept known as the Six Word Memoir Project, they launched a brevity revolution! People of all ages rushed to tell their life stories in six words to share on social media. Since 2006, the trend has spread to classrooms around the world, and kids are telling their own tiny tales. Ever the educator, I’ve been trying to think of some methods to use this awesome idea in all subjects. Here are some ways to incorporate Six Word Memoirs into a variety of content areas to engage students and improve understanding. Click To Tweet
Keeping it brief makes life real.
Short in stature, long on adventure.
Constitutional Concepts Expressed Through Six Word Memoirs
Several of my Virginia studies units throughout the year incorporate so many different people that my kids get confused. For example, in our unit on the Constitution and early government, my fourth graders have trouble remembering that Thomas Jefferson wrote both the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. They also forget that George Mason wrote the Virginia Declaration of Rights, the basis for the Bill of Rights. Creating a six word description for these statesmen and their documents works wonders.
Jefferson: religious freedom and self-government
Constitution—three branched form of government
When we get to our unit on the 20th Century, the kids have to remember Arthur Ashe, Maggie Lena Walker, Woodrow Wilson, Harry F. Byrd, Sr., Oliver W. Hill, A. Linwood Holton, and L. Douglas Wilder. You can bet we’ll use memoirs for each of these folks!
Pennies saved, lives changed—courageous womanUsing Six Word Memoirs across the curriculum will build student engagement and help kids remember what they've learned. Click To Tweet
Our fourth graders have to remember all sorts of things about the planets. They have to differentiate between gas giants and terrestrial planets. Additionally, the kids have to be able to put them in order by distance from the Sun, then in order again by size. Mnemonics work great to help them remember how to sequence the planets in different ways, but Six Word Memoirs for each planet will help them remember their characteristics.
Red storm swirls Jupiter’s gas surface.
Weather can be confusing for kids as well. Don’t stress! Have them write Six Word Memoirs for each form of precipitation or storm you study.
Land forms, rocks, and other geologic phenomena make great subjects for these tiny descriptions!
Curb the Chemistry Conundrums
Periodic Table got your kids’ atoms out of whack? Why not create some Six Word Memoirs for different elements?
Hydrogen-helium explode into Sun energy
I sure wish I’d known about this little trick when I was trying to memorize organic compounds in college. UGH!
Math Vocabulary: Nailed It!
Kids can remember the characteristics of geometric shapes and terms when they write small descriptions for different shapes.
The properties of addition and multiplication prove confusing as well. Why not write a Six Word Memoir for the Commutative Property?
Guaranteed Grammar Greatness
Having kids create Six Word Memoirs for parts of speech will not only make them think outside the diagram, it will also cement understanding while engaging them.
Kids confused about commas and other conventions? Have them write Six Word Memoirs for each punctuation mark!
Assessing your students’ grasp of reading skills is pretty straightforward when you use Six Word Memoirs. Have your kids make Six Word Memoirs when you explore characterization. Six Word Memoirs also work to help you teach summarizing.
You can even write Six Word Memoirs for those metacognitive reading strategies you teach such as questioning, inferring, visualizing, and synthesizing.
Use words to create mind pictures
Clues lead you to greater understanding
Character in the Classroom
To better support your school counselor’s character education program, you could have your students write Six Word Memoirs for each of the positive character traits highlighted in their monthly lessons. Traits such as perseverance, courage, honesty, fairness, and caring make great memoirs.
In short, Six Word Memoirs make great formative assessments. They also make fun and engaging study aids for your students. What a cool way to get your students to develop their higher order thinking skills! You will be amazed at what kids can create!