Writing 25 Word Stories [Handout]


If you've been reading the Radical for the last few days, you know that I spend last weekend in Philadelphia at the Educon conference. 

That means I'm intellectually spent and WAY behind in almost all of my part time work right now.  Constant conversations and really, really cool interactions with some of the brightest people on earth will do that to you.  As a result, I haven't got a ton of time to write today. 

What I'll do instead is share a handout with you that I created recently for the language arts teacher on my team to use with our kids.

It's designed to walk students through the process of writing a really good 25 word story.  You can download it here:

Word Doc: Download Handout_CanYOUWritea25WordStory

Adobe PDF: Download Handout_CanYOUWritea25WordStory

So what's a 25 word story — and more importantly, why would you want your kids to write them? 

Well, a 25 word story is exactly what it sounds like:  A 25 word story.  It's a writing style that I first discovered by following Kevin Hogdson — a really remarkable sixth grade language arts teacher — in Twitter. 

Kevin was regularly writing these incredible stories contained in a single tweet that had a clear beginning, middle and ending.  They were emotional.  They were funny.  They were provocative and they were cool.  And while there doesn't seem to be a ton of people writing them anymore, a little community grew up around the short stories being shared with the #25wordstory hashtag

Here's a sample one of my students wrote this week:

25 Word Story

From a language arts perspective, 25 word stories are GREAT activities for middle school kids.  Not only are they perfect for filling the short chunks of time that you might have at the end of a more traditional lesson, they force students to think more carefully about word choice. 

Like I tell my kids, when you only have 25 words, EVERY one is remarkably important. 

Finally, I love 25 word stories because they can be shared in text messages — the primary form of communication for my students.  That means they can quickly send their stories to a bunch of friends and/or their parents for feedback. 

Instant audience is never a bad thing when you're trying to encourage writing.

Hope this sounds like something you're interested in exploring.  I'd love your feedback on how my handout works with your kids!


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6 thoughts on “Writing 25 Word Stories [Handout]

  1. Bill Ferriter

    Glad that you enjoyed the post, Caitlyn — and the opportunity to follow my blog for awhile.
    Good luck to you in the next few months as you work your way into our profession!
    Let me know if I can ever help,

  2. Caitlyn Latini

    Mr. Ferriter,
    As I read your post I was wondering how on earth can you write a story with only 25 words. Although you did show a great example of one that your student wrote that allowed me to comprehend your assignment. I am a college student and I find it difficult to find the right words to type in a text message that consist of less than 160 characters which I’m guessing is roughly around 25 words. So, I think its a wonderful exercise for kids to use and I would definitely consider using this method in my classroom one of these days. I have enjoyed being assigned to your page in my EDM310 class and will continue to read and follow you.
    Admired reader, Caitlyn Latini

  3. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Philip,
    Love the term “Flash Fiction!” That’s cool — and something that middle schoolers will dig.
    You should write about that unit on your blog! I’d love to see what it looked like in action.
    PS: What the heck were you doing up at 12:50 AM?! Sleep man, Sleep!

  4. Philip Cummings

    Funny. Did we talk about this at Educon? Last year, I taught a lesson on flash fiction and had 6th grade students collaborating on stories together. The kids loved it and really produced some creative work. I’ll see if I can find some examples and sen them to you. I haven’t tried 25 word stories, but I may do that this year & make use of your handout. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  5. Ginnyp

    For our higher level kids we offer a similar ‘alternative’ homework assignment: Use 6 of your vocabulary words (from however many past lists you want to let them use) and create a 6-word title for a news story. Then write the story that goes along with it. Some creative stuff comes out of those 11- and 12-year old minds.

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