August 23, 2018

The story goes that Ernest Hemingway was having lunch with a bunch of other writers when they bet him that he could not write a complete life story in only six words. After taking the bet, Hemmingway jotted the following down on a napkin.

For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.

Like most great tales there is probably no truth behind this story. Or at the most Hemingway set his friends up for the bet, by using an already known story. What is beyond doubt is that in these six words you find a whole story. And that over the years people have been fascinated by the challenge presented by a “Six-word story”.

My favourite Six-word Stories

Look for Six-word stories on Twitter or Facebook, and you will find thousands of stories added over the years, some poignant, some funny and some a little naughty.
Here are some of my favourites:

Born a twin; graduated only child. – kconz21

Strangers. Friends. Best friends. Lovers. Strangers. – Potatocats

Voyager still transmitted but Earth didn’t. – Erasedcitizen

Nothing to declare. Much to remember. – Vain24

Rapunzel, I am slipping! … A wig? – Guiliano Zampi

Sharp new pencil. Limitless possibility. – Melissa Wilson

Columbus tumbles of world. King refunded.

Cat leaps from shadows. Floating feathers. – darth Vader

Challenge your students to write a Six-word Story.

Last year I wrote a post on using Six-word Stories as essay prompts. (You can see that I love them.)

But why not challenge your learners to write a Six-word Story? It will not only force them to think outside the box; it gets them to engage with language differently.
Before technology, the logistics of taking in 30 pages, reading through them, sharing them among the class, would put most teachers off. But with Google Classroom (or most other virtual platforms) it is a breeze.
Like all classroom activities, the way you manage it is determined by the outcome you have in mind. Is it just for your eyes (read my post on an authentic audience)? Or do you want to share the stories in the class? Or even to a broader audience?

Teacher feedback

  • Create an assignment
  • Ask learners to write their Six-word story in the private comments.
  • Remember to click on “Mark as Done.”
  • Comment on all the assignments that you receive. Remember to add your initials at the start; it makes it easier to see which ones you have commented on.
  • Make suggestions.
  • Ask for a resubmission.
  • Keep your DONE count at ZERO.

Peer review.

  • Instead of an assignment, create a QUESTION
  • Check that it is set so that learners can see each other’s answers.
  • Give them the opportunity to comment on each other’s stories.
  • If you have not done peer feedback before, you might want to provide them with some guidelines. Download my Class Comments – Do’s and Don’t here.
  • Remember to model good commenting.

Publishing it to a broader audience.

Six-Word stories are ideal for sharing on any platform. You could share them on a class Twitter feed, or the school’s Facebook page or just print them and put them up on the classroom wall. To add a bit of extra fun, ask learners to create an image of their story to publish. A free Canva account gives you access to thousands of creative commons pictures and templates. Within minutes learners can create a professional looking image for their story.

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