The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Classroom of the Week: Academic Magnet High School in Charleston

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

By Liz Crowder

The 2011 Six-Word Memoir Flim from junius wright on Vimeo.

This week’s Classroom of the Week hail from Charlestown, South Carolina, where six-in-the-classroom veteran and language arts teacher Junius Wright teaches at the Academic Magnet High School. Wright has been incorporating Six-Word Memoirs and videos into his lesson plans for his creative writing classes to 10th, 11th and 12th graders for the past five years—almost as long as SMITH Magazine has been in existence.

Wright’s Six-Word Memoir classroom unit includes activities that help students focus on the following three areas: text, typeface and image. Each student is required to create a Six-Word Memoir that successfully merges this trio, while still communicating a central concept in six words.

As Wright’s students find out, this challenge is not nearly as simple as it sounds. He has his students study things like high frequency vowels (a,e, and i) and low frequency vowels (o and u) and how they contribute to the meaning of a word. This fundamental lesson segues into a unit on the importance of typeface in conveying subliminal messages whether for corporate logos, advertisements for political campaigns, etc. “Students then collaborate online through a wikispaces site to draft, peer edit and revise, their Six-Word Memoirs,” Wright says. “Finally students combine their memoirs into a film and vote for the song they believe to best support the overall theme.”

Curious to see Six-Word memoir videos from years past? They’re all found on one wikispace Wright set up: www.sixwordmemoir.wikispaces.com

Although these features usually focus predominantly on six-words in the classroom from the teacher’s point of view, Wright collected six-worders from a sampling of his students about their thoughts on the six-in-the-classroom phenomena. Honest, humorous and decidedly straightforward, the following sixes transport us to a world where learning isn’t stale and education isn’t static but instead mutable, constantly evolving, changing for the better.

Helped me find my inner self.
-Lexi

Honestly, I just really enjoyed it.
-Margo.

It was pretty cool, I guess.
-Arden.

Very challenging and ever so rewarding.
-Elizabeth.

Six words is not nearly enough.
-Chase.

Wright has not only taught Six-Word Memoirs as a part of his classroom curriculum for years, but he’s also the creator of the Visual Literacy Project, a program that emphasizes the importance of visual media as a learning device in the traditional classroom. As the inspired video above clearly shows, visual artistry is the perfect compliment to the short, sweet Six-Word Memoir form. It’s nice to see a teacher not only talking about innovation and modernizing the classroom, but turning ideas into concrete lesson plans and then implementing them.

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Note: With the generous support of our publisher, Harper Perennial, we’ve created two free Six-Word Memoir lesson plans, one for our first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, as well as one for our teen book, I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure. Download a PDF of either or both below. All we ask in return is this: let us know how six words works in your class. We love sharing your stories with the rest of the SMITH community.

Teacher’s Guide: First Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)
Teacher’s Guide: Teen Six-Word Memoir book (click to download)

One response

  1. Contemplative says:

    Melded together, project’s sweeter than chocolate.

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