New SixContest: We’re swimming in Sixes! Use “swim” in a Six-Word Memoir

Six Words Blog

Tabitha Cooper’s first exposure to Six-Word Memoirs came in the form of a perfect condition copy of I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets she picked up in her local bookstore. Years later, Cooper’s copy of the book is well-worn and Cooper has implemented the idea into her English classes at Metamora Township High School in Metamora, Illinois, where she teaches. Cooper was attracted by the alignment the book had with what she was teaching. “Six-Word Memoirs is a brilliant way to introduce memoirs in a classroom by starting off small and then kind of growing from there,” says Cooper. “I also thought it was an ideal way to teach connotation, denotation, and word choice and its value within a classroom when you only have six words to work with. I just kind of stumbled onto the book; now it's totally worn out and covered with post-it notes now and I love it.”

According to English teacher Mary Lochtefeld, great writing has the exact right number of words. When she introduced Six-Word Memoirs to her classes at Ansonia Local Schools in Ansonia, Ohio, the exact right number was six. Lochtefeld discovered Six-Word Memoirs during a graduate class at Miami University she took over the past summer and decided to introduce it to her own classroom this fall. “The form seems easy at first and then when kids realize that they have to be really choosy about the words it becomes a little bit more difficult and really allows me to see if they understand the content,” says Lochtefeld.

[caption id="attachment_27833" align="aligncenter" width="350"] "Bottle it up until it pops." — Taylor Ingram[/caption] 2023 marks the seventh year since Professor John Ferry started teaching Six-Word Memoirs in his “Image and Form” class at the Kansas City Art Institute (KCAI) in Kansas City, Missouri. Ferry first discovered Six-Word Memoirs in 2016 after listening to an NPR segment, and rushed to implement the idea in his art classes.