The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Classroom of the Month: Vermont Academy

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

By Liz Crowder

Vermont Academy: 6 Word Memoir Project from Vermont Academy on Vimeo.

Although usually we feature individual classrooms and their Six-Word Memoir feats of creativity, we’re flipping the script this month to share an amazing video project created by students, staff and teachers alike. Meet our newest “Classroom of the Month”, Vermont Academy, a small boarding school in Saxtons River, VT, nestled against a picturesque, quintessentially New England backdrop of rolling (currently snow-covered) hills. VA prides itself on delving outside strictly traditional learning/teaching styles opting instead for a more active, hands-on educational experience. “From dawn to dusk, our students are busy and engaged in a variety of academic and athletic activities that challenge their brains and force them to engage with one another and with nature.” If you’ve already watched the brilliantly vivacious Six-Word Memoir video above, you’ll know that these are some talented students and faculty members.

VA has a weekly writing prompt as part of their Writing and Speaking Across the Curriculum Program—where every week a different community member reads a piece of writing at the Community Meeting—but this particular project was unique in that it was school-wide. “It was a great way to pull our school community together,” says Erin Cohn, a Writing and Speaking Across the Curriculum Program Coordinator. There’s something about Six-Word Memoirs that seem to bring people together into a wonderfully literary, like-minded community. A few favorite Six-Word Memoirs from the video span a spectrum of emotions, from the inspirational to the musical, to the lackadaisical:

“Adversity is unavoidable but not insurmountable.”
“Planned on rock stardom by now.”
“10:00 PM–This is all I’ve done.”
“Know-it-all learns to reconsider.”
“Warned, resisted, lost. I’m my mother.”
“My story is still being written.”

“I was thrilled with the degree to which the entire school embraced the project. We got submissions from faculty, students, and staff. All week, I overheard groups of people brainstorming ideas, speaking in six-word phrases, and sharing their memoirs with one another verbally,” Cohn says. They channeled their enthusiasm for the Six-Word Memoir form into a video project of masterful and epic proportions. Thanks to Vermont Academy for taking the time to share their community with ours!


Note: With the 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)

3 responses

  1. bevvie says:

    Love this!

  2. Wolfie says:

    This is why we write, at least me!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting to see such a creative project emerge from the
    high school level!

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SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
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