Flickr and the Very Short Story

Posted on December 26, 2007. Filed under: English/Language Arts, Teachers | Tags: |

by Tim Cushman

Getting students to create original writing pieces that represent their “best thinking” is difficult.  One of the teacher’s challenges is framing an assignment that is interesting and unique.  Teachers using the power of the web have been able to tap into tools like blogs and wikis in producing more conscientious writers.  The advantage of the Web lies in the access the average user has to present and interact with a global audience instead of being constrained to writing for one’s instructor and fellow classmates.  Blogs and wikis are both excellent tools, but the Web has much more to offer evolving writers.

As with all things in life, the “law of diminishing returns” applies to Web 2.0 as well.  Consider something different in the upcoming semester by making use of a Flickr “group” known as the 6 Word Story.  A one sentence, six-word story as a writing assignment you may wonder?  Definitely.  Just think of it as the equivalent of the haiku poem – structured and compact.  The history of the 6 Word Story supposedly can be traced back to Ernest Hemingway when he was pressed to create a complete story composed of a mere six words.  (Sources: and  Hemingway’s concise response was, “For sale: baby shoes, never used.”  Several more examples can be found here: and   

The natural response for students when beginning this type of assignment is to simply write a description of the image and unflinchingly await their easy “A”.  However, a good 6 Word Story should read more like a newspaper headline in the New York Times then a caption in the school yearbook.  This is much harder than you think and requires a great deal of creativity and mental effort.  Try composing a few 6 Word Stories of your own with the pictures below.  Click on the photos to see the actual 6 Word Story posted on Flickr.

Bucky     Girl

You can view 6 Word Stories from the Flickr community as well as pair a photo with a story.  There are several pictures awaiting a story at    When searching Flickr, bear in mind that the 6 Word Story is often tagged as sixwordstory or 6WS. 

Be sure to post your classroom 6 Word Story experiences to this blog.

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