Teaching In #6Words

All, Teaching Tips

I love six-word stories. I love to create them and I love to use them in my classes. Chances are pretty good if you have a class or writing workshop with me that lasts more than a day then you have written six-word stories with me (and often even the shorter workshops). I’ve blogged about how I use them in my classes before (Inspiring Writing, Learning in Six Words and Using Six-Word-Memoir Posters to Discuss Reading, Inspire Writing). My love for six-word stories is so great that I have expanded my repertoire to include teaching with memes as well. This was a natural step for me as I so often use artwork to illustrate my six-word stories and frequently encourage/require my students to do so as well. This blog post is dedicated to six ways that you can use six-word stories to support teaching.


I love using six-word memoirs as a way to break the ice with my students. They are great conversation starters and despite their brevity can often tell us quite a bit about the author. Check out the playlist I created to help my students get started with six-word stories as part of our initial community building.


Six-word stories make a great exit slip for any class. There is no room to hide in a six-word story, so it is immediately apparent who grasped the material and who did not. Also, I love how six-word stories help you pinpoint the biggest take-away from a lesson or class. It isn’t always what you expect or want, but can certainly inform your next steps as a teacher.


This is similar to review, but, as I’ve blogged in the past, I love to use six-word stories with reading. In my experience, students writing summaries want to throw in everything (including the kitchen sink) when the time comes to write a summary. They include minor details and supporting information that have no place in a brief summary. Six-word stories help them focus just on the main, essential, point of the reading and so I regularly use them as a starting point when working on summaries.


Six-word stories are just fun. I personally find them addictive and can never create just one and when I include them in a class or workshop then both young and adult writers seem to feel the same way. There is something very visceral about the process of writing a story in just six words. There is also something about the process of creating those six-word stories that serves as a key to unlock all sorts of interesting stories.


I also like to use six-word stories as a starting point for projects. I use project-based learning in all my classes, but getting started with just one idea can be difficult for some students. I like to use six-word stories to help them sift and sort through their various ideas to find the one that really lights their fire. Of course, students could also create six-word stories to initiate a number of conversations and lessons as well as review for tests.


One of the most difficult things I teach is making connections among different content and readings. I think perhaps it is human nature to learn one thing and then move on to another thing and not think about the ways the two things (let alone a third or more) are similar and different. Making these connections is a way of thinking that has to be deliberately cultivated and practiced – and, I believe, is one of the hallmarks of an educated person. Six-word stories play an integral role in the way I help my students make these connections (see Inspiring Writing, Learning in Six Words and Using Six-Word-Memoir Posters to Discuss Reading, Inspire Writing).

These are the six ways that I teach in (with?) #6words. How do you use six-word stories in your classroom?

A #6words memoir I wrote for the Morehead Online Summer Institute
A #6words memoir I wrote for the Morehead Online Summer Institute

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