6 Word Stories: A Template for Videos

April 22, 2010
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I recently created a 6 Word Stories Video Template for using six word stories as video summaries.  It really does make for a quick and easy upgrade for watching videos.

As I have mentioned before, I like to use six word stories to enhance the story aptitude from A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink.  I have always struggled to get students to appreciate and understand an entire video.  The faithful “video guide” usually results in students only paying attention long enough to write the word in the blank.  But when you use 6-word stories, students seem to be a bit more engaged.  They have to pay attention to the entire video in order to offer a six word summary.  And my experience shows that students really enjoy the challenge of creating their own six word story.  They can take away their own meaning from the video, and they can create a phrase that can easily be memorized.

I would like to offer a general observation on AWNM and the classroom.  When I consciously design lessons around Dan Pink’s aptitudes, I try to “cross over” between the visual and the written.  I have students use pictures to summarize words, and I have them use words to summarize pictures.  For this lesson students will be taking forty-five minutes of visual material and summarizing it into six words.  Challenging but memorable.

This is how it works.  Students are given the template and asked to write down keywords from the video inside the box.  I tell them that they can write down visual items they observe, emotions they feel, and events that they see.  Anything will work.  I do not give them a minimum number of words that are required.  I just tell them to write down items that stick out to them.  There are really no wrong answers.  They just need to write down what they think is important or interesting.

I stop the video with about ten minutes left and challenge the students to summarize the video in the six blanks at the bottom of the template.  I remind them that they have a number of words and phrases that they can utilize from the box.  I then walk around and observe their creativity.

One of the grading tricks that I have used to help students with this open-ended method is to give participation points.  After reading Drive by Dan Pink, I think that this trick has some science behind it.  I remind students that they will receive points for participating.  That means that there is no minimum number of words.  It means that using your cell phone, sleeping, or chatting with your neighbors will lose you points.  All they have to do is participate.  It really does help.  There is no “carrot” or “stick” applied to the result.  They are free to think outside the box and be creative.

I hope you will try out the six word story as a video summary.  It really has worked well for my classes.  It is an easy way to develop the aptitude of story and have some fun while doing it!

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