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Lesson Plan

Exploring the Power of Language with Six-Word Memoirs

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Exploring the Power of Language with Six-Word Memoirs

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Cathy Allen Simon

Cathy Allen Simon

Urbana, Illinois


National Council of Teachers of English


Materials and Technology

Student Interactives






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Word Matrix

Grades   6 – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Learning About Language

Word Matrix

Explore the similarities and differences among words typically considered synonyms with this tool that allows middle- and secondary-level students organize groups of words by connotation on one axis and by register on another.


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  • Six-Word Memoirs at SMITH Magazine

    This site includes six-word memoirs written by a variety of authors on life stories.  Also included are videos about the memoirs and information about Six-Word Memoir books.

  • SMITHTeens

    On this site, students can explore memoirs and join thousands of storytellers to have a chance to be in a future book of Six-Word Memoirs.

  • Six-Word Memoir Wiki

    This wiki includes six-word memoir films created by students, for students.

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  1. Locate one or more copies of the Six-Word Memoir books. Familiarize yourself with the content within the book(s).  You may wish to choose a few memoirs to share with and/or point out to the students.
  2. Preview the following videos and decide which you will show and/or are appropriate for your students:
  3. Test the Word Matrix student interactive and make sure that you have the appropriate software installed for it to run effectively.  You will need computers with internet access for each student to use this interactive.  If computer accessibility is a problem, print out paper copies of the interactive and make enough copies for each student.  If you need additional help with this interactive, please visit our Technical Help page.
  4. Photocopy the Choosing the Best Word: Six-Word Memoirs handout for students.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the ideas of synonyms, connotation, register, and sound/rhythm.  Additional teacher information on synonyms and language can be found in a variety of articles from English Journal, Vol. 97, No. 4, March 2008, with the issue theme “Teaching Spelling and Vocabulary in High School.”

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