Maria Henderson alerted me tonight to Rachel Fershleiser’s Twitter-inspired book, “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure.” According to the video, “Six-Word Memoirs, the book,” 11,000 submissions via Twitter yielded this book. Amazing. The video is, itself, a great example of Flickr-powered digital storytelling. I would recommend previewing the entire video before you show it to students. There isn’t anything in here I would consider offensive, but at least one of the memoirs included would invite a response from a teen audience that it would be wise to prepare for. (Or just pause the video before the 2:43 mark.)

Are there similar projects you can think of for students, in which they share compelling or memorable statements in six words?

How about key themes or messages from a novel they’ve recently read for class?

In viewing the above video, isn’t it amazing how much communication power is added by the visual images, placed behind the words of each memoir? Behold the power of visual literacy!

How about the most important events in a historically important person’s life, with each summarized in six words or less, and then chronologically listed and linked on XTimeline? Here’s an XTimeline example of the life of Colin Powell. Most entries are six words or less. Click and drag the timeline from right to left to view it, or use the horizontal “elevator” at the bottom to move laterally forward on the timeline. Click each event to view more information about it, along with a related photo.

The Flickr group “Tell a Story with 5 Photos for Educators” encourages visual storytelling in five concise frames. While it is still important to learn how to write long essays and papers, it is also important to practice the art of concise, effective communication, both visually and with written text. Fershleiser’s book provides some good inspiration for thinking about classroom assignments along these lines!

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2 Responses to Concise writing, digital storytelling, timelines and six-word memoirs

  1. I love the digital story 6 word memoirs. You said “The video is, itself, a great example of Flickr-powered digital storytelling” How was it created using flickr? Outstanding peiceof visual literacy.

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    At the start of the video, there is a graphic and some text indicating the images are taken from Flickr.

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