Six In Schools: Teaching Students to Write in Six Simple Words

We love hearing about how schools of every type have found Six-Word Memoirs to be a writing tool in the classroom. James Berman, Chef Instructor at Delcastle Technical High School, in Wilmington, Delaware, reports that “Six-Words has been a daily part of our class as a journal topic for students. The process takes a very busy environment and forces us to boil down our thoughts into their concentrated, more flavorful form.”

“We used to use the traditional notebook and pen for journal writing examples about life,” James explained. “Then a former student turned me on to the Six-Word Memoirs as an example of journal writing about yourself. I wanted to get students to think more about their journaling - to think rather than just merely brain-spewing - and boil their thoughts down to six meaningful words. I provided some journal writing examples for students and soon we had fully adopted the format.”

James noted, “It was really encouraging to see such a huge interest from my students. After providing some journal prompts for students, I had them submit their Six on index cards and then I would share some of the more profound, humorous, interesting pieces.” Even more encouraging? “As the weeks went on, it got harder to narrow down the students’ selections to present!”

“So, in an effort to get students to engage with an ‘authentic audience’ we started weekly postings on Twitter. And this social media lesson plan has exploded! Current students, grads, and even parents have used the format to drop their thoughts into the class. Our school district’s English Specialist has raved about our Six-Word project! Our next addition is a class set of I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure—if our budget ever gets approved.”

James sent over some choice journal examples for students from Delcastle Technical High School, and we’ll be sending him a few copies of our teen book.

On trying new food:
   “I tried raw oysters. Carpe diem!”

From a student whose responsibilities were janitor for the week:
   “Cleaning makes for a shiny kitchen.”

On a conflict with another student:
   “Running your mouth leads to trouble.”

From a student facing some serious issues outside of school:
   “Culinary arts spiced up my life.”

On being messy:
   “Changing name to ‘Not Your Mother.'”

On working the dishwashing station:
   “Dishes are cockroaches; they keep coming.”

From a sophomore taking apart her first chicken:
   “Hacked chicken…have we no shame?”