When Catherine Dison came across Six-Word Memoirs, she knew it was something she had to introduce to her ninth graders at The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio. “I loved the combination of words and image, and of course the challenge of packing as much as possible into six words,” says Dison, an English teacher for the past 27 years.
The Six-Word template is not only a useful method of breaking the ice, but it also teaches English students the beauty of simplicity, and the power of clear diction. “Creating a Six-Word Memoir requires students to think carefully about the words they choose and the message they convey,” Dison says. “I do not have to tell them not to use unnecessary words, because they are already discovering which words they need.”
The process of creating a Six-Word Memoir can be an alternately satisfying and frustrating process, and Dison’s students experienced the gamut of these emotions. Some students felt inspired to “take a bold risk and put something very personal in their memoir,” knowing full well that their final Sixes would be on display in the school library (albeit anonymously)—other students spent much of their time “in the brainstorming stage,” stumped by the initial challenge of what aspect of themselves to include in their memoirs.
Dison’s assignment was simply for her students to write a Six-Word Memoir, but some students were so energized by the exercise that “they returned the next day with beautiful pictures that they had drawn, complete with their final six words.” These insightful illustrated Sixes, some of which are included below, provided the students and teachers of The Wellington School with a source of daily inspiration. As the students walked through the gallery of Sixes in the learning center, they “enjoyed looking through all of them and trying to guess the authors.” Dison, too, was struck by “how fitting so many of them were to the student—once I had connected each student with his or memoir, they were linked pretty clearly in my mind. I could walk through the learning center, pick out any memoir on the wall, and immediately call to mind its author.”
Just one look at this collection of illustrated Sixes proves that Six Words can be both inspiring and motivational.
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. We’ve just released the Six Words for Schools workbook, the first in our suite of new school-based teaching tools, and launched our Six Schools website, a place solely for teachers to share their classrooms’ work with other educators globally. Check it out! Let us know what your classroom is up to and we might feature your students’ work on our blog.