In Brief: On Micro-writing

I couldn’t possibly make my point with a long, wordy article, so let’s get to it.

Whether they know it or not, your students are micro-writing. They’re writing captions for Instagram. They’re writing witty responses on Snapchat. It’s the very foundation of Twitter. And even as emojis challenge the necessity of language itself, we know – young people especially understand – that words matter now more than ever.

Teachers can incorporate this into their classroom by teaching micro-writing. Why? Lots of reasons.

Keeping it short takes the pressure off WRITING.
A single sentence can go a long way.
For new language learners, it helps to build comprehension and self-confidence.
It creates a common ground for learners of different levels together in the same classroom.
It’s time efficient.
It’s low tech.
It’s a great way for students to open a casual discussion or summarize a complex argument.
Its flexibility makes it a powerful exercise in every subject.
It’s not easy, but it’s also not a formidable assignment.

Micro-writing isn’t about catering to a short attention span, or even encouraging it. It’s about linguistic precision. It’s about word economy. It’s about exploring the great potential that lies within limitations.

That’s why I love Six-Word Stories. A favorite part of Hemingway lore (probably untrue), it resonates because the ratio of impact to time-it-takes-to-read is profound. So much in just six whole words! Amazing.

So, if you aren’t already using micro-writing in your classroom, or with your students in one way or another, give it a shot.

It doesn’t take long to go short.

Want to see how a few educators have included micro-writing in their classrooms? I found these articles helpful:
Micro-Writing is Having a Macro Impact on Identity Development
Concise and Precise Micro-Writing
Micro-Writing for English Learners
Micro Writing: Writing to learn in ESL

Want to have your students enter a contest for Six-Word Stories? The folks at Narrative have something for you.

Article written by Andy Pillifant

Andy Pillifant
As a senior writer, Andy is one of the voices of WorldStrides. A linguistic chameleon, he writes about, well, everything, Favorite topics are culture, human nature, and soccer (which is about culture and human nature, don't you think?). He loves camping, hats, his wife and three sons.