Six-Word Memoirs Are a Great English Class Activity for Ninth Graders

When Catherine Dison came across Six-Word Memoirs, she knew it was something she had to introduce as a classroom activity for English students. “I loved the combination of words and image, and of course the challenge of packing as much as possible into six words,” says Catherine, an English teacher for the past 27 years at The Wellington School in Columbus, Ohio. She knew it would be a fun English activity for her 9th graders.

The Six-Word format is not only a useful English class activity idea for 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 want to convey,” Catherine says. “I do not have to tell them not to use unnecessary words, because they are already discovering which words they need.”

(R) "Somewhere in this big, wide world..."
(L) "Make yesterday's wishes become today's reality."

The process of creating a Six-Word Memoir can be an alternately satisfying and frustrating process, and Catherine’s students experienced the full gamut of these emotions through this creative activity example. 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.

Catherine’s assignment was simply for her students to write a Six-Word Memoir, but some students were so energized by the creative English activity that “they returned the next day with beautiful hand-drawn pictures, complete with their final six words.” These insightful illustrated Sixes provided the students and teachers at The Wellington School with a source of daily inspiration.

"Laugh until you pee your pants."

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.” Catherine, too, was struck by “how fitting each memoir was to each student—once I paired each student with his or her 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.

(R) "Strange world, frail people, real me..."
(L) "Part of two very different worlds."