By Irfan Rifai
Started over a bet made between Ernest Hemingway, a distinguished American writer, with his friend at a bar, six-word stories have become increasingly popular. A CBS news archive back in 2008 reported that a book was specially made to gather stories of people’s lives captured in six words. The title of the book was “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure,” that contained hundreds of people’s memoirs described as ” Fascinating, Hilarious, Shocking, and Moving.” For detail, please click the link : http://www.cbsnews.com/news/six-word-memoirs-can-say-it-all/
I would definitely use the similar 4 words, Fascinating, Hilarious, Shocking and Moving, to describe stories written by my 1st year students attending Academic Writing 101 class. Initially, I was only thinking of using the activity to encourage students to feel comfortable in expressing their opinions and themselves in written English. To my surprise, the students came with some hilarious and captivating stories. The results of the transduction from six – word story into a six-word photo story was just as captivating.
In my observation, the students seemed to enjoy producing the story especially because they did not have to think much of the plot of the story and it expressed much more than they thought it would. ” It’s like writing a poem. You don’t have to be worried about how other may interpret it, ” said one student. When challenged to turn the story into a different mode, the same student commented on his own work : ” the image seems to complement my story. It , as if , clarifies the meaning I intended to make.” I did not get to interview everyone on their impression after producing a photo story, but I would basically agree with what the student had stated : that images, like texts, can also become strong means to make meanings or deliver messages.
Other than complementing texts, what are other benefits that students would get in a class that involve different modes like images, videos and many others ( multimodal class) ? Here are some possible benefits. First, students would understand concepts better as they learn to make meanings in different modes. In the six – word story context, the images chose by students to clarify the meaning of their stories, have encouraged them to think of the visual representations of their stories in order to make their readers understand the stories better.
The second benefit for students, in my opinion, is that they would be able to improve their hard skill in working with computer. Some students who , at the beginning, were struggling with some software / applications gradually learned to work with them. In the process of being in the class, students have actually improved their soft skills as well as hard skills. Working in team and communicating ideas are to name a few.
All in all, I would say that the sessions on six-word story and the their transduction have been a very positive experience from both my perspective and my students’ perspectives.