Six Word Stories

Give your students a 'do now' as they enter the room that sparks their imagination, or better yet, challenge them to write their own.

Photo of Kevin Jarrett

Written by

I've known about six word stories for a while but only this past summer really started to understand their power. Just learned last night that we have Hemmingway to thank for them. This quote in particular is incredibly powerful to me. The image and text just scream at you. What is the STORY? What happened? Why? I could see this happening in every subject, honestly...

How does this idea help to spark student curiosity?

With the right visuals (that appeal to the age group in question) and the right text, six word stories have the potential, as long as they capture student interest, to spark a veritable firestorm of mental activity in a kids' mind.

What grade level is this idea most appropriate for?

  • Middle School (5-8)

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Do you love this idea?

Yes! I love it. - 100%

10 comments

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Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

I love this. One of my colleagues started "Dream Time" -- 10 minutes at the beginning of his classes for this sort of creativity brain flowing. This would make a perfect Dream Time experience.

I also love the association with visuals. Now I'm wondering. What if we had Six Image Stories?

Six Word Memoir.
Six Word Poem.
Six Word Speech.
Six Word Review.
Six Word Contract.
Six Word Philosophy.

Six may not hold significance -- the ideas of constraint to catalyze creativity and thus curiosity? That's powerful stuff.

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
Team

Superb, Dan! Six I think is not only significant, it's the key to a) honoring Hemingway's vision and b) keeping kids focused and c) generating results that are compact and easily shareable!

I love 'Six Word Memoir'.

When we used Six Word Stories over the summer as part of a visioning exercise for my new STEAM program, the results were mind-blowing. Participants (a cross-functional team of staff, admin, parents, BOE and community members) were asked to define the "Future of Education." Here's one example - not necessarily the best, but, the one I shot (I love Aubrey, she's amazing):

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kjarrett/19573878483/in/album-72157654308401223/

The varied responses were incredibly powerful and generated conversation and reflection beyond anything I've ever experienced in a workshop setting.

I could see 'Six Word Memoirs' being especially useful in 8th grade...

Keep the iterations coming,

-kj-

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

I'm wondering about using Alan Levine's 5 Card Flickr http://5card.cogdogblog.com/play.php and having students add a sixth card of their own making.

Also enamored with the idea of Six Word Remixes. What if students put each word on an index card and then shuffled, rearranged, mashed up with others. I do this with Literary 3x3s and thinking the same might be applied here. http://flight307.blogspot.com/2015/09/ap-lit-3g4b-update-true-grit-literary.html

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
Team

Makes sense, Dan. Loved your videos! Any plans to do something further with the stories, perhaps have the kids perform them, or, create some sort of visual presentation?

Photo of Dan Ryder
Team

Perhaps. I don't see them as end goals; use them more as formative thinking. They often become the basis for their synthesis essays and other more developed products -- I've seen 3x3s inform independent book projects and such.

As I use the 3x3 right now, it is more as an analytic.

That said, the concept could be used to crash ideas together like pots and pans until the cacophony becomes a symphony of new ideas and story and see what happens from there.

Photo of Molly McMahon
Team

Kevin -- hi! I'm a burger junkie too! Are there any other six word stories that you have used in your classroom? Love the simplicity of this!

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
Team

Hi Molly! No, I've only just started teaching Middle School. I really just learned about Six Word Stories this summer, but I'm looking forward to trying them. Just need an entry vector...a reason...working on it. Really love the Hemingway quote, and think it ties in nicely with the first part of our mantra, CARE...hmmmmmm

One thing to do is challenge the kids to write the six word stories but again, I need context.

What subject and age do you teach?

-kj-

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

Wow! I immediately started to think about what might have happened."[N]ever worn"--so powerful.

Have you used these in class? What did the students think? Were they intrigued?

Photo of Kevin Jarrett
Team

Hi Jessica, I haven't, but I'm about to.

This one scares me a little - is it too potentially traumatizing for middle schoolers? Imagine if one of them lost a sibling and I didn't know. Not cool.

This is an alternative:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kjarrett/21943477685/in/dateposted/

I think it would be fairly easy to 'hook' them into a conversation with that one.

Trying to come up with others that might resonate with your typical middle schooler, but I'm new to this part of the educational galaxy and am still trying to get my bearings.

Suggestions welcome...

Photo of Jessica Lura
Team

Kevin,
Yes, the second phrase/image would hook them but it doesn't feel as "meaty." I suppose the first one was so intriguing to me because of its emotional impact. I hadn't thought about unsetting students ( and I don't know anything about your students), but in my experience, though the students would enjoy the second, their answers wouldn't be as deep and as thoughtful as sharing the first. I suppose when in the year the Hemingway one was used would also make a difference--do the students feel comfortable with each other? Do they (and the teacher) know each other well enough to (possibly) share real information/feelings?