How To Unlock Your Students' Creativity: Six-Word Writing Prompts

"Never met him. Never want to."

Where soul searching may fail, there are always words. And Six-Word Memoirs is particularly useful because by limiting one’s words, enables one to better decide what is most important. We all know that the teen-aged years are a tumultuous time, and for a million different reasons. But it's often the first time in life that one begins to search for identity. The search is scary. But sometimes the scarier path is in the decision of how to best express your true self to others as you go through life.

As such, Christy Kingham decided to explore this creative writing prompt theme of Identity with her 11th graders at the Young Women’s Leadership in Astoria. Christy’s best method of study? Six-Word Memoirs.

(L) "My hijab is my royal crown."
(R) "This is me in my DRESS."

Christy says “This is my fourth year using Six-Word Memoirs—I’ve used them with middle schoolers, high schoolers, and grad school education students, alike. When it comes to 11th graders, these students are expected to know themselves as learners and individuals, and should be able to articulate this identity to various audiences.”

With that in mind, Christy instituted daily writing prompts, opening the year with the question ‘what is my lens?’ The journal prompts for students caused her students to begin considering additional questions like “who am I?”, “who do I want to be?”, as well as the many aspects of their lives that may shape their perspective. “It’s scary work. But I found that the best way into this type of work is to harness Six-Words to capture an element of our identities,” Christy says.

On this project, Christy’s work with Six-Words is used doubly over. Students are instructed to use six words as a pre-writing activity for self exploration, but also as a tool to focus their writing as they make new discoveries about themselves.

(L) "My hair hides the ugly truth."
(R) "Not them, won't be. Quit comparing."

Christy uses Six-Words in a number of ways beyond the fun writing prompts on identity. In the vein of creative writing prompts for teens, Christy has her students write Six-Word Memoirs from the perspective of the characters in the book they are reading. In another, Christy has encouraged her students to use Six-Words as a way to brainstorm ideas for college essays. 

Team Six is continually amazed by the number of different ways the Six-Word form can be adapted for different classrooms, especially for short creative writing prompts. Keep Sixing!