Writing 6-Word Memoirs With a Comics Twist

A MiddleWeb Blog


Sometimes, ancillary lessons can become more interesting than the main assignment. Activities we devise to keep students engaged after finishing “the real work” end up re-energizing our learning space.

That’s just what happened in my classroom the other week with a Six Word Memoir activity. The main lesson was a start-of-the-year project called Dream Scenes, in which students use our favorite web comics site to create a personal story that centers on their aspirations for their lives in the years ahead.

I love this future-focused project because it allows me to know more about my students and their dreams. It opens up all manner of interesting conversations and provides the first steps into using technology with writing and publication.

Here is an example of a Dream Scene that, as a teacher and writer, is right up my alley:

six word saradream 500

 Very short stories with lots of punch

Students typically complete the Dream Scenes project at different times over a few class periods, so I always have one or two extension activities within our comic site ready for them. This year, I introduced the concept of the Six Word Memoir, sharing out a few examples and discussing the virtues of editing and concise writing. Using six words narrows your frame of vision. Make every word count.

I assumed my students would enjoy the activity, particularly within the comic site. What I didn’t expect was the level of energy that emerged as the kids dove into the concept, creating a wide range of Six Word Memoirs that nicely complemented the Dream Scene project. Their six words provided as much insight into the self-perceptions and identities of my students as anything else we have done.

And students were eagerly invested in the Six Word Memoirs, which pack a lot of punch in a short amount of writing. I suspect, too, that the entry point is low for all of my young writers, including those who are already showing signs of struggle. This was a writing piece they could take on, and they did, with gusto.

SixWords1 wr is life

SixWords2 cook

SixWords3 music

SixWords4 dr sports bb

SixWords5 sport

Some helpful resources

If you are looking for ways to include Six Word Memoirs in your classroom, you don’t need to use comics (although the art and visual element gives the project another degree of polish). Check out the Smith Magazine Six Word Memoir collection and writing ideas. Some of the shared collections are aimed at young people, particularly middle and high school students.

Online, the National Writing Project folks even created a remixable template in Mozilla’s Webmaker suite of free tools that students can play around with to make a Six Word Memoir (and learn a thing or two about html coding).

What’s your Six Word Memoir?

khsixwords cover image end

Kevin Hodgson

Kevin Hodgson is a sixth grade teacher in Southampton MA and outreach coordinator for the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. An aspiring writer and former newspaper journalist, Kevin believes that all students are writers and that writing is one of the most fundamental means of understanding the world. His views around literacy include interaction within the digital world, meeting students on common ground, and helping them make the shift from passive consumers to active creators and collaborators. He is a co-editor of Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change and Assessment in the 21st Century and blogs regularly at Kevin’s Meandering Mind. He can also be found on Twitter as @dogtrax.

12 Responses

  1. Rhonda Howard says:

    Thank you for continuing to share technology ideas that work with writing!

  2. Writing and teaching make a difference :)

  3. dogtrax says:

    Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment.

  4. Lisa says:

    Over at ReadWriteThink.org, we have a lesson plan on six word memoirs: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/exploring-power-language-with-30701.html. I love the Dream Scene site you shared – I’ll have to check that out!

  5. drpam says:

    I also use the six word memoir as seen on my blog. Loved seeing yours.

  6. drpam says:

    http:// http://www.readingandwritinginthemiddle.wordpress.com. Six word memoir in my tag cloud. Wonderful writing exercise. I’d love to Reblog your post–possible??

  7. I love six word memoirs and have been using them for many years. My middle school students love them. Have you seen the new book of illustrated six word memoirs? The are more like what you did with your students. Very cool. I’m going to add the illustration part next time and I know my students will enjoy the program you used. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Colleen says:

    Love, laugh, shine, live to give

  9. Rachel says:

    love it! great work, everyone!

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