Eight years, 6000+ comments—read the the memoir that changed the game!

Six Words Blog

IN JANUARY 2022, A CLASSROOM OF FIFTH GRADERS at Maplewood Elementary School, Missouri looked themselves in the metaphorical mirror to discover their true identity and those of their peers. The two-day activity that inspired 5th grade core teacher Lexi Sinnett to launch her first ever memoir unit in her English class was her and the class’ first handshake with Six-Word Memoirs. Now, Sinnett is confident that the concept has will continue to be a part of the Maplewood Elementary family. Sinnett discovered Six-Word Memoirs while looking for ways to begin her full-length memoir unit for the semester. The brevity of the concept inspired her to do so through a “vignette memoir” assignment, where students were to describe themselves at their core in six words. She introduced the Six-Word concept to her class by showing them creations posted by other classrooms online via platforms like YouTube before the students dipped their hands into the exercise. Sinnett also wrote her own Six-Word Memoir as an example that demonstrated the amount of self-concept the students would be required to establish. “I told them, ‘Really zoom in and pick the thing that stands out the most. What matters to you the most right now?' I zoomed in on what really matters the most to me, [which is] being a teacher and focusing on the kids within my four walls.” The class began by journaling ideas, then the students were paired up to brainstorm their works in progress. Sinnett felt that partnering the students to brainstorm and choose their memoirs would allow them more creative agency without an adult influence. “I wanted to reflect them as kids,” she says. Once the students found a memoir that spoke to them, they would have to combine their memoir with a suitable illustration that would visualize the memoir, on a readymade template Sinnett provided. The illustration piece of the lesson helped some students decide which memoir they wanted to choose based on how difficult it would be to draw out their unique creations. Sinnett felt that the illustration aspect would also be a refreshing first for the class, as visual art is uncommon in the fifth grade writing curriculum.

In August 2021 at Trinity School for Children in Tampa, FL, English Core teacher Jenny Hess spent three days helping her middle school classroom discover their abilities in writing and illustration, mine for the essence of their personalities, and in the process, introduce themselves to her. By the end, her students were not only aware of the literary influence of Papa Hemingway, but also the power of their individual voices. Hess discovered the Six-Word Memoir website on a search for platforms that could give her students the opportunity and motivation of having an audience for their writing. Inspired by Six-Word Memoirs’ literary history and Hemingway’s influence on the concept, Hess introduced the activity in her class, which took place over the course of three days. The activity was also motivated by an effort to get to know her students better. [caption id="attachment_26018" align="alignnone" width="768"]                                   “Weirdness is welcome in the world. — Madison Valder[/caption]