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Classroom of the Month: High Point Academy in Pasadena, CA—Distance Learning with Six Words

ALTHOUGH THESE ARE UNPRECEDENTED TIMES, school is still in session, and now more than ever Six-Word Memoirs are a valuable tool for educators. Since we released our latest teaching guides with prompts about life during the pandemic we’ve heard wonderful reports from teachers using the form in their distance learning curriculums. Among the first to share her classroom’s experience was sixth grade teacher Sarah Nguyen at High Point Academy in Pasadena, California. 

Nguyen first heard of Six-Word Memoirs when Jennette Neville—one of High Point Academy’s librarians—emailed staff about our new guides, My Life Now: Six Words on the Pandemic.  “I hoped that six words would offer a creative outlet for the students to reflect on their emotions, their personal experiences, and the biggest takeaways about how they are living their lives each day,” says Mrs. Nguyen.

To get the ball rolling, the innovator educator shared her own Six-Word Memoir with her students:

She adds, “My students have seen my son pop in and out of Zoom sessions, heard him scream and cry in the background, and have listened to my stories of frustration (and adoration) throughout the year, so my memoir did not surprise them in the least.”

Next, the class discussed the unique parameters of the Six-Word Memoir form and why paring a paragraph or even a page of writing down to six words might make for a more impactful story.  

After a giant virtual brainstorming session, Nguyen’s students went to work creating Six-Word Memoirs of their own, many with original art ranging from photos to photoshopped creations.

 


Then, the students virtually shared their completed memoirs with the class. Says Mrs. Nguyen: “We laughed, sighed, and nodded in agreement with each memoir. How easy it was to connect to each sentiment!” 

Due to a mixture of age, grade level within a K-8 school, and the nature of High Point’s teaching program, Mrs. Nguyen’s  students often fluctuate between cuddly/silly/fun elementary students and mature/independent/opinionated preteens. “For these reasons, projects such as the Six-Word Memoir bring out the best in them. They are able to showcase their creativity and personal experience in a humorous, fun-loving way, but may also choose to display deeper, more complex emotions if they so choose.”

Teachers! Since we first launched the Six-Word Memoir project, educators across the spectrum have found Six Words to be a terrific classroom assignment and catalyst for self-expression. At our Six in Schools section, we celebrate students’ work from classrooms around the world. Download one or all of our free teacher’s guide—including our newest guide, “My Life Now,” with prompts about the current pandemic—here.

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