One Sentence StoriesI’ve seen a few simple and easy to use web sites around recently that I’ve thought “That would be a nice activity for a language lesson in a computer lab, or a great humanistic task for blogging with language students.” One Sentence is one of these sites.

The concept is really simple. I’ll leave it to One Sentence’s own blurb to explain:

One Sentence is an experiment in brevity. Most of the best stories that we tell from our lives have one really, really good part that make the rest of the boring story worth it.

This is about that one line.

This is about telling the most interesting or poignant story possible in the least amount of words.

This is about small bite-sized pieces of extraordinary lives and ordinary lives alike… the happy, the sad, the funny, the depressing.

Well, I for one liked the sound of that. Especially when I read a few of the one-sentence-stories that had been submitted. Here are a few of the ones I liked for their poignancy, humour or their touching nature:

callmejackieo

We were going to stay up all night recording experimental music on his computer like John and Yoko, but then his mom came in and told us it was time for him to go to bed.

Less one friend

I hadn’t seen her in twelve years, but my heart still broke when I saw her picture on CNN with “Missing” underneath it.

OregonGirl75

I braced myself, stoic and still as stone, as they wheeled your body into the room, and I didn’t break down until I realized your long hair was still wet from the last shower you took.

Dan Beeston

One day I’ll be angry when she squeezes my toothpaste from the wrong end, but four years in, it’s still endearing.

I don’t think in one short page I’ve ever read so many moving, touching or simply human stories as I did in One Sentence. Reading through the stories, I guess you’ll agree that they are not for a glib, 5 minute lesson filler. I would suggest that you only use the site with students who know each other well, or that get on together. I guess they really aren’t suitable for use with a children’s class either.

So, how can we use this site with our students? It’s actually remarkably simple. Really it is!

  1. First I would ask my students to read trough a few of the sentences on the stories page.
  2. I would then ask the students to work together and tell each other which stories they liked and which they didn’t like. Seeing as they are only one sentence storie you students could probably do this just from memory, even if they are low level students.
  3. If you wanted to extend this activity, you could ask the students to work together and try to orally fill in the gaps to make the one sentence story more like a one or two paragraph story. Either that or you could ask them to write it out on their own. I would then ask my students to work together in groups to re-tell the stories in their new, fuller versions.
  4. Finally, and I’m sure you guessed this from the beginning, I think if you had the right class, you should ask them to write their own one-sentence-story and submit it to the site. It needn’t be as personal as the ones on the site if your students didn’t want to, but I would encourage them to write a true story in keeping with the ethos of the site.

I’ve submitted my own story. It was nice andsimple to do. just go to http://www.onesentence.org/submit/ type your name, an email address and your story and off you go.

Can you find mine?

Seth.