The Six-Word Memoir Blog

Classroom of the Month: San Francisco Day School

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

By Liz Crowder

“For the shy poets, taking a risk in six words to share a secret, a memory, or a fear is easier than delving into a longer poem.”


Spring always seems to reinvigorate creativity and inspire new ideas. The days are getting longer, the sun is shining brighter and the Six-Word Memoirs are less “Wishing for other reasons to shiver” and more “Mudluscious and puddle-wonderful Spring. -e.e. cummings.”

Which brings us to this month’s featured classroom! Meet Meghan Adler, learning specialist, seasoned writer and poetry teacher at San Francisco Day School in San Francisco, California. Adler is a longtime fan of Six-Word Memoirs who recently attended SMITH founder Larry Smith’s workshop to benefit 826Valencia. She says that her school boasts a community of learners in which perpetual intellectual curiosity and love of learning are highly celebrated. Adler exemplifies the school’s overall mission by exuding an optimistic energy, love of writing and a Six-Word Memoir teaching force to be reckoned with.

This conductor of masterfully brief creativity works with five bright students enrolled in a Performing Arts Elective. Adler and her students recently embarked on a journey into literary world of Six-Word Memoirs, divulging everything from Six-Word secrets to short, sweet odes to San Francisco.

“Twice a week for 50 minutes, I meet with 6th and 7th grade poets in a class called Poems, Poetics and Poetry,” says Adler. “We study forms, poets, and write our own poetry. My students especially love the six-word format because they love structure. Somehow the rules create and allow a structured freedom of sorts. For the shy poets, taking a risk in six words to share a secret, a memory or a fear is easier than delving into a longer poem. Of course later, they may be inspired to keep going, but the six-word prompt helps them enter. I am so grateful for this form that’s helped my poets take risks, share, create, and take real pride in their work.”

These San Francisco students were generous enough to share their sixes with the SMITH community. “One of my students started to have so much fun with the exercise that he came up with one for me as he watched me try to untangle some jewelry: ‘Middle-aged woman strangled by necklace.’”

Get ready to laugh, lament, be inspired and laugh some more as Adler’s students take you on a delightfully youthful, slightly self-conscious and wonderfully witty literary ride.

Six Words On Life
Ollie (6th Grader)
Am I too old for that?

Jamie (6th Grader)
Life never stops even when asked.

Lili (6th Grader)
Food messes. Mom cooking. Yum.

Kapp (7th Grader)
Great minds think alike. Not really.

Katherine (7th Grader)
I am too much for six…

Six Word Secrets

Ollie
Knew I shouldn’t, but I did.

Jamie
Boy! Was that a bad idea!

Lili
Hush. Quiet. No. Please don’t tell.

Kapp
200 dollars. Didn’t actually pass go.

Katherine
I’m sorry. I was always sorry.

Six Words on San Francisco

Jamie
Uh oh. Here comes the fog!

Ollie
People are different on the bus.

Katherine
I fell out of the tree.

Kapp
Hills look bigger from the bottom.

Lili
Me no ride the bus.

On April 18 2013, National Poem in Your Pocket Day (you celebrate by choosing a poem you love and carry it in your pocket to share with co-workers, family, and friends), Adler and her students plan to take the Six-Word Memoir phenomenon to the rest of the school by rolling out craft paper on the floors in the hallways for people to write their own six words about San Francisco. We can’t wait to see the wealth of new sixes that this project will inevitably help to create!

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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)

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One response

  1. gail Staal says:

    The power of WORDS hurray MEGHAN

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