What Works Wednesday: Six by Six Memoirs

For today’s edition of What Works Wednesday I would like to share an introductory writing activity that I did with my Passion Writers.  I call this writing activity a 6 by 6 Memoir. I modified the writing activity from Kelly Gallagher’s book Write Like This. I love Gallagher’s work and this book certainly does not disappoint. It’s packed with excellent information and real-life writing activities.


In this book Gallagher identifies six “Real-World Writing Purposes”.

  • Express & Reflect
  • Inform & Explain
  • Evaluate & Judge
  • Inquire & Explore
  • Analyze & Interpret
  • Take a Stand/Propose a Solution

We focused on the first purpose, Express & Reflect. For this type of writing the expression part of the writing piece are the details that surround the event and the reflection is what the author learned or can take away from the experience. This is a great activity to introduce expressive and reflective writing because it is easily embraced.



modeling the brainstorming process for my writers

I began by creating a “Circle of Life” map and then just brainstormed several one-line (six words) memoirs.



modeling the rough draft for my writers

From there I choose one six-line memoir. I elaborated by expressing and reflecting on that original one-line memoir for a total of six lines, six words in each line.


I published and shared my Six by Six memoir on our Schoology course.

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creating a 6 by 6 mentor text for my writiers


Here are some of the Six by Six memoirs that my Passion Writers wrote and posted in our Schoology course:

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This is a great way to get to know each other at the beginning of the year and it’s a nice alternative to the “I am” poem. It could also be an excellent activity at the end of the year to see how well learners know each other. It would make for a fun “Guess Who? ” activity.


If you missed last week’s What Works Wednesday, click here to read all about Book Vines.


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11 thoughts on “What Works Wednesday: Six by Six Memoirs

  1. Schoology course! These are wonderful examples of writing, Amy. I love when readers of professional books adapt strategies and make them their own. Imitation may be “the sincerest form of flattery” but applying your own ideas makes the strategy yours.

  2. I love this six-by-six built on a six-word memoir, Amy. I’ve read Kelly’s book, but somehow this didn’t stick with me. I want to try it out myself as you did. Sharing the entire process really helped! Thanks for being a wonderful model of a teacher of writers who writes!

  3. Great idea, Amy. I am a fan of the six word memoir and my students enjoyed doing it. The six-by-six is new to me. This is something I would not mind trying one day.

  4. This is wonderful, Amy! Thanks so much for walking us through the process and sharing your student work. I always leave your posts inspired to do more in my classroom!

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