Teacher Began School Year With Six-Word Memoirs as a Way to Help Students

Houston, Texas-based teacher Adriana Hernandez first heard about Six-Word Memoirs through a coworker at Albright Middle School who had bought a Six-Word Memoirs book after hearing an interview on NPR. Adriana found the book extremely interesting as a creative way to publish student writing: “Student publishing and Six-Word Memoirs had stuck in my mind over the last few years, so I thought I’d try and introduce it to my kids.”

Adriana began the school year by having her seventh grade Language Arts class write personal narratives. She discussed doing a Twitter-style narrative — limiting her students to 140 characters — which would be “more interactive, something that they’re familiar with, like using social media.” Her students, however, struggled with the concept of what makes a character, and had trouble narrowing down their personal narrative to 140 words. “In some ways, social media stilts their writing,” Adriana said, “they don’t have to go into detail. But there’s something kind of cool about having that short neat piece.”

Following that train of thought, Adriana pivoted in the direction of Six-Words. Discussing the concept with them, she showed her students YouTube videos and read to them from the Six-Word Memoirs book. “I allowed them to write the six words that came out of them, but I didn’t make it come out of their personal narrative. I wanted to see what they came up with on their own.”

Her students rose to the occasion, finding it fun and appealing to write in the six-word form. Adriana offered the students guidance, explaining: “If this is all someone knew about you, would you be okay with that? What would you want those six words to be to sum up who you are right now?” The students delivered. “Some were fun and silly, some were sports, some were deep – about love and stuff. I was expecting a large variety of memoirs, and I was not disappointed.”

Within minutes, each of the students had many Six-Word Memoirs they liked, although some took the entire period to perfect their messages, especially knowing the class book publishing aspect. As they wrote their memoirs, they also wanted to show their work on a student publishing site, like the Six-Word Memoirs website, or other online writing websites for students.

“They were pretty happy, especially when they could see it up live on the site after hitting ‘publish.’”

Adriana had noticed visuals on other online writing activities and websites for students, such as YouTube videos of other classrooms. The illustration gave their words “something to connect to,” so she also had her students create images to accompany their Six-Word Memoirs.

As such, Adriana offered her students one simple way to do what we all want to do at every age: leave our mark on the world with student self-publishing.