Recently I stumbled across the site Six Word Stories. It is a collection of stories written in exactly six words, as inspired by the original Ernest Hemingway short-short story,

“For sale: baby shoes, never used.”

Tell me that doesn’t hit you like a ton of inspiring bricks.

I decided to try this out with my students. Today, they summarized the first third of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest in a series of six word summaries. First, they drew images to represent the series of events that had occurred already in the play. Second, they worked in groups of three to list their series of six-word summaries:

Third, they voted for their favorites, resulting in the collaborative series of images and recaps:

My personal favorite,

“Ferdinand and Miranda hit the jackpot.”

The type of thinking and language production that this type of specificity forced was awesome to see. As with other forms, like haiku, restrictions make greater room for creativity and parameters provide a challenging structure for expression. For these students, who tend to ramble on endlessly without ever getting to the point, this practice in conciseness was ideal!

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