In this post, I’d like to share a project we worked on earlier today. I’d like to point out that it was not a single lesson but a block of four 45-minute lessons, in which a group of ten teenagers (12-15 year-olds, 8 girls and 2 boys) worked on their Six Word Stories.
Here’s what we did.
Portraits (icebreaker): First, I asked students to make pairs (some of them didn’t know each other very well, which was to the good). I gave each student a large piece of paper and I asked them to draw a portrait of their partner. When drawing, they faced each other and they were about 2 meters apart so that they couldn’t see each other’s pictures very clearly. When they finished, I asked them to walk over to their partners, show each other the portraits and talk about them for a few minutes. I had even brought a mirror for them to check the quality of the product. 🙂 I pointed out that they were going to need the pictures later on.
Hemingway (background): I showed students a photo of Ernest Hemingway and told them about his famous six-word story: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. I asked them what the story was about and how they felt about it. I told them that the internet is full of six-word stories but some of them are quotes rather than stories. To demonstrate the difference between a story and a quote, I chose to compare Born a twin. Graduated an only child with Dark Places Have Room for Light. I said we were going to work on both types.
Guess the words (speaking): The goal of this stage was to give students an idea of what six-word quotes may look like. I gave each pair several random quotes I had found on the internet (see below). Student A’s task was to describe the words of the quote one by one while Student B tried to guess them and write them down. This was a useful speaking activity as well as vocabulary practice, and the students seemed to like it very much. Here are some of the quotes:
- One day, someday, I’ll be okay.
- I’m alone, but not lonely.
- I’m my own best teacher.
- Everyone has a story. What’s yours?
- The world is a scary place.
- Let me sleep. Wake me never.
- Think, hope, dream and make memoirs.
- Life is a dream – beautiful, mysterious.
Associations (vocabulary, grammar): Then we played a few games to practice making associations (and to get off the chairs for a while too). The ability to make associations was something the students needed later on in the lesson.
The last activity of this stage was this one: Students worked in two groups of five, completing the following phrases so that the sentences had exactly six words.
Life is….. Love is …. A friend is …. Dogs are ….. Being old is ….. Being young is….. Time is….. Music is …… Happiness is ….. Art is ….. Children are …..
Then the groups happily presented their products in front of the class. I was amazed by their poetic spirit!
Make your own six-word story
Facebook (inspiration): I said it was time for their life stories. But first, to motivate them, I told them about my wonderful PLN on Facebook. The night before the project, I asked my FB friends, i.e. English teachers from all over the world, to share their six-word stories. Needless to say, I instantly got a huge amount of answers. Obviously, my students were impressed!
YouTube (reading): For even more inspiration, I showed them this YouTube video, in which a teacher shares some six-word memoirs created by her seventh-grade class. I asked my students to watch the video and write down a couple of memoirs they liked. It was quite fast so they really had to pay attention when reading the sentences.
Tutorial (listening/writing): I told them that writing a good six-word memoir is not easy, but it can be fun if you know how to do it. I showed them this tutorial, in which the procedure is clearly explained and demonstrated. We followed the steps together and the students finally produced their own six-word memoirs.
Finalizing the product (writing): Finally, they made big posters using their portraits and the memoirs they had created.
What a wonderful time we had together!