With my 4th grade students, I recently discussed the literary nonfiction genre memoir. As a genre, memoirs distill authors’ expressions of identity and personal history. One powerful tool for helping students distill personal experiences into short written statements is the website Six Word Memoirs. Featured in national publications like the New Yorker and promoted by a TED book publication, six-word self narratives are a hit! To enhance the activity, I asked the students to write a memoir and then share it in a creative way using Haiku Deck app for iPad.
We started by looking at some online student examples on the Six-Word Memoirs site and discussed the emotions revealed in just a few words. We noted that the images represented the words and paid close attention to the punctuation. What if there was no comma? How would the meaning of the memoir change? Of course, considering that my 4th grade students are only 9 and 10 years old, one wonders what big events or memories could possibly have shaped them at their young age? But the kids produced some beautiful results! Try it yourself!
We used an organizer to focus our writing.
First students brainstormed, thinking of a topic and describing it. They then chose six words and formulated a six-word memoir.
Some students skipped the first two steps and instead wrote their six-word memoirs without going through the process, resulting in simple statements rather than an expression of more thoughtful emotions about an event or memory: “I love ice walking in Canada.” So I began the following class period emphasizing the importance of thinking critically about events and memories in their lives and about the idea of purposeful writing. Not an easy concept, but several examples helped.
The next step was to use the Haiku Deck app to find a visual representation of the memoir, add the text, and then publish the memoir on their student blogs. Haiku Deck provides access to millions of free images, which are automatically attributed if one produces an entire slide show. But since we only created one slide, each student had to copy the CC licensing information onto their blogs.
Here is some of the students’ beautiful work.
Image credit: dirkvorderstrasse CC BY
Image credit: Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games CC BY-NC
Image credit: Wisperwolf CC BY-NC
Image credit: Kevin Dooley CC BY