Ms. DeBlois’ ELA Students at Auburn Middle School in Auburn, Maine

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Students at Auburn Middle School in Auburn, Maine are greeted by this six-word slogan: “AMS is rooted in Core Values.” These tenants are also captured in six words: “Honesty, compassion, responsibility, respect, fairness, courage.” So it makes perfect sense that Six Words would be easily incorporated into AMS’ Gifted and Talented curriculum for English Language Arts (ELA) students.

Auburn teacher Ms. DeBlois first discovered Six-Word Memoirs in two of our books Not Quite What I Was Planning and I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets (which she borrowed from a fellow teacher). From there she was lead to the Six-Word Memoirs website, and soon was immersed in the world of Six Words. Ms. DeBlois was struck by the power of the six-word form, noting that many memoirs “were very poignant and brought about a lot of emotion.”

Ms. DeBlois used her own Six-Word Memoir to capture the attention of her seventh- and eighth-grade ELA students. “Older, but still gets kiddie menu,” she read. The backstory to her memoir drew them in: “I had graduated from high school and was out to eat with all of my friends. Every single one of them was handed the adult menu, while I was given the kiddie menu.” The reaction of her students? “They couldn’t stop laughing. They loved it.”

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–8th grade student, Team Sugarloaf

Since Ms. DeBlois teaches these gifted ELA students just once a week, Six-Word Memoirs makes an ideal one-class lesson plan. “It was perfect for what I wanted to do,” which was focus on word choice, punctuation and imagery. Additionally, she wanted students to represent themselves in their writing. “This has to be about you, I told them. And no one knows you better than you do.”

Knows not to, but does anyway.

–7th grade student, Team Tumbledown

Ms. DeBlois began the assignment by giving her students time to brainstorm. “I gave them three minutes to write down—as fast as they could—everything about themselves. It helped to warm them up.” From there, they were asked to write six memoirs, one of which they would share with their classmates. Backstories were also shared during a class discussion.

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–7th grade student, Team Bradbury

Though the assignment initially seemed intimidating, the students quickly found their stride. “A lot of my students wrote more than the required six memoirs. At first they thought it was difficult. But once they got going, and they heard what others were writing, they wrote more and more,” says Ms. DeBlois.

This is the first time Ms. DeBlois has used Six-Word Memoirs in the classroom: “I wish I would’ve found this gem earlier.” The depth of their memoirs is remarkable. “No father, yet I live joyous,” writes one student. “Trump becomes president. *Moves to Canada*” proclaims another. What is most inspiring, says DeBlois, is the way Six-Word Memoirs encourages self-awareness. Introspection shines through, from “An empath who knew too much,” to the confessional, “If I’m mean, I really care.” An illustration makes this memoir particularly poignant:

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“Crooked, broken, bent, cracked, fractured — perfect.” —7th grade student, Team Whitecap

Her students’ memoirs are posted in our Teens section under Ms. DeBlois’ teacher account, with team names noted on each memoir. At a relatively young age, these middle school students also show an awareness of self in a much greater context. One student philosophically poses, “Paradox: What if you didn’t exist?” while another insightfully declares, “Thinking is for those with time.” A sense of empowerment is undeniable: “I’m me, the Changer of Worlds.”

Everyone gained from this rewarding assignment: “I learned a lot—about my students,” says Ms. DeBlois. “Kids don’t do a lot of self-reflection. They don’t realize how much they’ve grown or changed.” When students do examine themselves while writing Sixes, “they start to value things for intrinsic reasons. They adopt a growth mindset. And that’s what you want them to be able to do, for the rest of their lives — reflect on who they are and the choices they’re making.” —Emma Arace


Teachers! Since we first launched the Six-Word Memoir project, educators across the spectrum have found Six Words to be a terrific classroom assignment and catalyst for self-expression. At our Six in Schools section we celebrate students’ work from classrooms around the world.

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The Top Six-Word Summer Road Trips

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Summer is the time when we yearn to get away. And there are no two words that invoke a grander feeling of freedom then: “road trip.” For SixContest #79, we asked for your stories about traveling the open road. From family trips (“Everywhere we traveled, Dad knew someone.” –CJProArtz) to life-changing solo journeys (“Different person returned after 4,000 miles.” –ChewyD2), your tales remind us that every pit stop provides an opportunity for adventure. If you’re looking to avoid a case of FOMO this summer (“Cherries for sale; we never stopped.” –GrannyGreg) — pack the essentials, grab the keys and hit the road, Jack!

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Recovering Orlando: In Six—”Where Do We Go From Here?”

So many of us want to say and do something about Orlando. For his part, Brett Reiter, producer of Loose Films, a Columbus-based video production company, chose to host a benefit event at Columbus’ Strongwater space. Called “Recovering Orlando,” all proceeds went to victims, family, and friends of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting. Six-Word Memoirs brought our short-form storytelling to this event as a simple way to allow everyone in the crowd to share their take on this tragedy.

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Memoirist of the Month—July 2016: Krystyna Fedosejevs

“I quickly became addicted to Six-Word Memoirs. Well-written, touching backstories and priceless photos of many talented writers inspired me to join in May 2014 and hang on for the ride. It truly is the ride of a lifetime; I haven’t found anything else matching its format and emotional appeal.”

IMG_0762 copyName: Krystyna W. Fedosejevs
Place: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
SMITH Member Since: May 2014

Within her first two months of joining Six-Word Memoirs, Krystyna posted more than 400 memoirs (“Over 400 sixes; love this place!”) and she has kept pace since with more than 4,000 memoirs to date. Known as CanadaGoose, her memoirs reveal her love of words (“Baking ideas in my mind’s oven”) and intellectual pleasures (“Sipping Bordeaux wine with Leonard Cohen”). Yet there are many tales beneath the surface (“Family rifts: patches I can’t quilt”) that reflect an abundance of introspection (“‘Cautiously optimistic’ holds pessimism in shadows”) and a talent for storytelling in Six Words (“I unplug to open real windows.”). Congratulations to Krystyna Fedosejevs as our Memoirist of the Month for July 2016—learn more about this well-traveled memoirist as she answers our Six Questions:

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Top Six-Word Spoiler of Your Life

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We are the authors of our own stories. For SixContest #78 — inspired by Mary Elizabeth Williams’ new book, A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles, whose memoir about battling Stage IV Melanoma begins “SPOILER: I lived.” — we invited you to share the spoilers of your lives in Six Words. Some spoilers reflect your fantasies (“SPOILER: Discovered my superpower, saved world.” —Stella_Matutina), while others reveal sobering realities (“SPOILER: His manly chest scar is melanoma.” —MargotEd. Note: see below for backstory). Spoilers are often about life-changing moments (“SPOILER: The pee stick turned blue.” @popazza via Twitter), and sometimes they help us distinguish fact from fiction (“SPOILER: Larry and Piper get married!” —Larry_D._Smith). Whatever the future holds (“Spoiler: Aged, but never grew up.” —ComicBookMom), don’t let spoilers ruin the story for you.

Introducing the Top Six spoilers that leave us wanting more of the story:

6. “SPOILER: We’ll laugh about this someday.” —caralongwrites 

5. “SPOILER: My story’s villain was…expectation.” —JohnBigJohn

4. “SPOILER: Rebellious student becomes dedicated teacher.” —sisterpoet

3. “SPOILER: Fairy tales are often grim.” —scribbling_scribe

2. “SPOILER: DDT changed my DNA. Cancer.” —DynamicDbytheC

And of the hundreds of entries, the spoiler that is most timely:

1. “SPOILER: Over this rainbow lies hope.” —Dyan_Titchnell [Ed. Note: see below for backstory]

Backstory from Dyan_Titchnell: “Peace to Orlando and those beyond.”

Backstory from Margot: “I was published in your amazing book It All Changed in an Instant. Since my first Epilogue story I have (in six): “Met the man of my dreams” had a daughter and have been “Reciting Dad’s Eulogy in my head” after my Dad passed away last year. I’m very attached to your latest request for Six Word Spoilers in conjunction with Mary Elizabeth Williams. My husband endured a surface spreading melanoma on his chest. Not from sun bashing. Just because. Who knows why? My sister is a Beauty Therapist. She saw it first. A tiny little blemish that looked angry. In her words – “get that looked at as soon as possible.” I’ll never forget the conversation we had after he had gone to the skin clinic and they confirmed it. Melanoma. Cancer. He was calm, rational but scared. I was irrational, yelling at the world but trying to remain positive. He had surgery the next week to remove it. As the Doc said “No time to spare for you.” Another six! The scar on his chest is impressive and people ask. We like to embellish. We tell stories. But not the real one.”

Congratulations to Dyan_Titchnell and thanks to all who participated! Each of our Top Six contributors will receive a copy of Williams’ memoir, A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles. We’ll be reaching out to all six winners shortly regarding their prizes. Whether in our SixContests, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!

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Top Family Stories In Six Words

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The personal histories that shape our families reach far and wide. For SixContest #77 — inspired by Orange Is the New Black and Jane the Virgin star Diane Guerrero’s new memoir, In the Country We Love: My Family Divided — we invited you to share your own family stories in just six words. Each family is a collection of journeys (“Left everything behind. Crossed oceans. Lived.” —@MaggyTheBrave via Twitter). Some families are defined by adversity (“In the shadow of the Holocaust.” —Frieda W. Landau via Facebook), others by hope (“Homesteaders, refugees, immigrants. Moved for opportunity.”
—@EugeneEvon via Twitter, Ed. Note: click link for the accompanying photo). In some cases,

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Six Words & Harmony Project’s Inside/Out: Breaking Down Barriers

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One of the most meaningful collaborations in our Six in the City: Columbus initiative has been with David Brown’s Harmony Project, a community choir based in Columbus, Ohio, comprised of different races, ages, cultures, orientations and affiliations. This past winter, Harmony’s student choir shared their take on what being beautiful means in six words. Students from public, private and charter schools across Columbus spent a day together answering the question, “Why I Am Beautiful?” This video — where students sing a rendition of Moby’s “Beautiful,” intercut with images of their Six-Word Memoirs on beauty — captures the alluring energy of connecting diverse perspectives through collaboration.

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Mr. Ferry’s Illustration Class at Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri

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“Small guppy in a shark tank.” —Megan Wyatt

The Kansas City Art Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, sets out to prepare its students to “transform the world creatively.” It is no wonder, then, that Six-Word Memoirs has found a place at this prestigious arts school.

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Memoirist of the Month—June 2016: Christine Macdonald

“I pop onto Six-Word Memoirs every day or so for inspiration, to catch up on heartwarming stories of truth, current events and contests. I adore the connectivity the site provides. I am constantly amazed how one six-word sentence can spark inspiration and evoke emotion.”

Name: Christine MacdonaldHeadShotMed
Place: Long Beach, California
SMITH Member Since: January 2011

Christine Macdonald finds power in her deeply personal revelations. With her first memoirs, Christine showed us her willingness to be vulnerable (“Going back so I move forward”) and bare it all (“Realizing my worth without the pole). Although Christine isn’t the type of Sixer to post thousands of memoirs like many of our “power users,” her bold truths have led to numerous features on our site and in our publications. Christine follows @sixwords on Twitter, posting many of her Six-Word Memoirs and entries in our SixContests as @thatgalkiki (“I was stripping, not selling flowers”). Christine’s candid tale, “Sunset Strip” is included in our longer-form collection, The Moment: Wild, Poignant, Life-Changing Stories from 125 Writers and Artists Famous & Obscure, and her astute memoir, “In love with love isn’t Love.” is featured in The Best Advice in Six Words. Congratulations to our Memoirist of the Month for June, Christine Macdonald. As she answers our Six Questions, you’ll discover why Christine’s dignified honesty is applauded within our Six Words community:

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#SixWordCommencement: A Toast To The #ClassOf2016

speecheswinnerGlorious days are upon the next generation of scholars. For SixContest #76, we offer a gift of wise words from those who are making their procession this graduation season. Remember that life is unpredictable (“Embrace the world, even its thorns.” —SouthPorch) and sometimes the best advice is tried and true (“Relax. Tomorrow the real work begins.” @MarielleMondon via Twitter). In the end, you will find your purpose — your sweat and tears will not go to waste (“You’re enough to change the world.” —@asraimun via Twitter).

Introducing the Top Six commencement speeches:

6. “Use your vacation days. Always. Often.” —Lizasighs

5. “Enjoy the grace period before loans.” —@ktbbug (via Twitter)

4. “Remember those who rally behind you.” —paristexas

3. “Move forward: Courage first, confidence follows.” —@gailgrey (via Twitter)

2. “Nobody breaks ground by standing still.” ChristinaDelia

And the Six Words that will set you on the path to success . . .

1. “Make our today your starting line.” thepoet1

Congratulations to thepoet1 and thanks to all who participated! Whether in our SixContests, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr or at sixwordmemoirs.com—keep on Sixing!

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