ELA - Nonfiction 6 Word Digital Memoir

ELA - Nonfiction 6 Word Digital Memoir

Instructor Directions


Name of Project: Nonfiction 6 Word Digital Memoir


Project Description

Name of ProjectNonfiction 6 Word Digital Memoir
Subject AreaEnglish
Targeted StandardsW.11-12.3; SL.11-12.5; L.11-12.5
Driving Question / Problem / ActivatorEveryone has a story. What’s yours?How is word choice important in telling our story?
Project SummaryStudents will write a 6 Word Memoir. Using the Waterlogue app on mini iPads, as well as the PicSee app, students will layer their 6 Word Memoir over a sketch, personal photograph or found image reflective of its theme.
Estimated Time180 minutes
Materials / Resources (including link to slideshow if available)Students will need access to:Previously students have read and analyzed excerpts from historic and modern memoirs. Possible selections for prior analysis:
  • Marguerite Duras from The War
  • Elie Wiesel, “Never Shall I Forget”
  • Bill Bryson, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid
  • Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
Students are now ready to write their own 6 Word Memoir.Lesson Directions:Day 1 (80-90 minutes):
  1. Activator: Students watch the following Ted Talk by Larry Smith, creator of the 6 Word Memoir: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jR1V7lxsOu0&feature=youtu.be
  2. To review diction, post a sample of one or two 6 Word Memoirs. Discuss the connotation of specific word choice, as well as the effect of selecting alternate words on the meaning of the sentence.
  3. Provide new samples of 6 Word Memoirs written by teens. In pairs, students select one of the examples. Recopy the sentence and highlight examples of specific diction and explain its connotation and effect on the meaning of the sentence. Hypothesize possible “back stories” for this 6 Word Memoir.
  4. Brainstorm in words and images their feelings, thoughts, and memories associated with an event, a dream, and/or a philosophy that is part of your life story. (3-5 minutes)
  5. Students circle/highlight 3 to 4 words that seem most impactful to telling your story, to defining who you are. Using one of these words as inspiration, complete a 5 minute free write.
  6. Develop a 6 word sentence that captures the topic and meaning of your freewrite. This sentence may not actually be about you, but is a reflection of what’s important to you.
  7. Experiment with word choice by replacing nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and/or verbs with alternative options. Think about how substitutes affect connotation and meaning.
  8. Once you have refined your sentence, write it on a post it note and place it onto the bulletin board.
Day 2:Students will need to use their mini ipad, cellular device, or chromebook for this activity.
  1. Students will view the following video about 6 Word Memoirs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejndNExso9M and discuss how images and video enhance the message. Conversation should extend to color, composition, layout, text choices, etc, and their impact.
  1. Students will select an image that reflects the message of their 6 Word Memoir. There are several options for this:
  • Create a sketch by hand and photograph & save it
  • Upload a photo from personal files or take a new photograph; this image may be turned into a watercolor using the Waterlogue app or may remain in its original form.
  1. Using the free app such as PicSee or app of choice, students layer the 6 Word Memoir on top of the image.
  2. Students upload their 6 Word Memoir digital product into bookcreator.com. This can be combined with other classes.
  3. Students choose 3 digital products from the class book to provide evaluation using Glow and Grow.
Tags#memoir #waterlogue #picsee #everyonehasastory

Project Outline 

AskEveryone has a story. What’s yours?
ImagineImagine you only have 6 words to tell your story.
PlanBrainstorm in words and images their feelings, thoughts, and memories associated with an event, a dream, and/or a philosophy that is part of your life story.
CreateStudents will layer their 6 Word Memoir over a sketch, personal photograph or found image reflective of its theme.
ImproveStudents experiment with substituting word choice to refine their 6 word sentence.
Closure / Student ReflectionsStudents can edit their 6 Word Memoir based on class feedback from book review and resubmit.
Possible Modifications / ExtensionsWhen students add their 6 Word Memoir product to bookcreator.com, they could also embed a video providing the brief, informal “back story” to their sentence.Students can post their 6 Word Memoir to: https://www.sixwordmemoirs.com/community/six-in-schools/welcome-teachers-words-six-words-schools/

Evaluation (Pre/Post)  



Credits or Modified From

Additional Resources / Help for teaching this lesson




Sample Pictures / Video


6 Word Memoir by Nan Porter6 Word Memoir by Murphy Buie





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