3.02.2013

Meme Assignment Your Students Will Love



Assignments Your Students Will Love

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Teaching the second half of the year is always the most challenging. We have fewer breaks and we all tend to get spring fever. If you have seniors, there's also the dreaded "senioritis" they all seem to come down with. (I think my seniors had it by the second week of school.)

It's even more important during this time of year, though, to offer engaging assignments they want to do. Yet, it's hard coming up with new ideas. Instead of trying to create them all yourself, just get to know your students. Last year when my students were fixated with websites like High School Memes, I decided to utilize that obsession with a meme assignment: create a meme related to the chapter we just read. I expanded the activity when I posted my "Meme Activity..." in my teacher store, which includes a presentation on what memes are, an icebreaker meme assignment, and a mini-research project about memes. It's a versatile bundle that any content teacher can utilize in class.

Recently, my seniors made some memes based on Part I of Catching Fire. Some made additional memes for The Hunger Games, and some--who have read the entire series--were excited to create memes for the rest of Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I won't post those yet, but I do want to warn you if you haven't read Catching Fire: spoilers ahead!
Catching Fire Memes - Created by Students
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You might be wondering, "What are the educational benefits of assigning a meme?" That is a valid question. Looking at the finished product, you probably won't see the learning process that went into it. But if you observe your students while they are working on them, here's what you'll find:
• Students re-reading the text to find something they can parody or reference.
• Students asking one another questions, such as, "Which character said...?" and "Didn't this event take place at...?" and "Why didn't you use this picture? Doesn't it go better with that scene?"
• Students using technology to create the actual meme (some used meme generators online, while others found images and used programs on their MacBooks to add their own text, such as Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Fireworks, or Pages).
• Students editing their own work and peer editing one another's. (I stipulated that they needed correct spelling and usage, though some misspellings, like "Capitol" with an "a" instead of an "o" slipped through.)
• Students critiquing one another's finished product and offering suggestions, even explaining and justifying their choices.

Not only do they allow students to engage in critical analysis of each other's work, they also offer opportunities for deeper class discussions. Memes mimic real life; touchy topics are exposed, opening up your classroom to complex conversations you may have otherwise skipped.  

Use Memes to Discuss More Serious Topics in Class
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Do you use memes in class? Comment below and see my Facebook page for more conversation about using memes in class.

Assign a Meme for a Chapter Summary or Review
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And one last thing: not all of the memes students turn in will be school-appropriate, no matter how many warnings you give them. For some students, they honestly don't realize where they crossed the line. For others, they are just testing the waters. I let them state their justification for using it and ask if there would have been a better way to say the same thing without losing the point. Some students made great arguments; others, not so much. But I believe in giving them the opportunity to be responsible rather than eliminate the activity all together. Here are a few that were questionable for various reasons. (Keep in mind these were made by 17, 18, and 19-year old students, so I'm more accepting of things that I wouldn't allow in my other classes.) Frankly, they still made me laugh!
Catching Fire Memes #HungerGames
Catching Fire meme: Romulus Thread #HungerGames

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Meme Activity for class includes:
Engaging Meme Activity for Any Class

Engaging Meme Activity for Any Class with Teacher PresentationMeme Activity with Student Templates You Can Share Electronically



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