Memes took the internet by a storm a few years ago and are still a very popular form of communication on social media. Using memes to teach is something I incorporated in my lessons, recently. It keeps the lesson interesting for both, students and teachers. There are various ways to effectively use memes in education, but too much of anything can be bothersome, so exercise caution.
Teaching Through Memes:
- Introduce your concept or topic:
2. Plot and Analysis – Literature based usage:
3. Increase vocabulary – Language based usage:
4. Establish classroom essential agreements:
Learning Through Memes:
Meme-making is a fun activity that has always produced great results for me. Students can use apps or websites like Meme Generator, Make A Meme, iMeme, Meme Creator or Quick Meme to do the activity either in class, or as homework. They are very simple to navigate and students, ideally, would not need guidance. If you feel they do need guidance, spend some time walking them through it.
Warning: Use child-friendly sites for meme making- cross check the sites before you recommend them for students.
After the completion of a topic in class, you can ask students to make and submit three to four memes about the topic. This not only stimulates creativity, but also works as an Assessment for Learning. Usually, I have over-eager students submit more than the requested amount and we share it with others in the class. This activity will have your students laughing while learning and that’s always a great class!
Recently, I created a unit plan that included the analysis of Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Furumetaru Arukemisuto, an anime series adapted from the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, by Hiromu Arakawa. As a Language and Literature teacher, I feel it is imperative to push the boundaries of what we classify as Literature, plus, reading subtitles while watching a visual text is a very important skill in our global world -How else will we learn to appreciate culture? Of course, I’d rather have Media Studies taught separately as a subject, in school, and not a part of Language and Literature, but I’ll go on that rant some other day.
Why bring TV into the classroom?
Today, we look at why it is important to not just expose our students to TV shows, and the best- mind you, but also help them understand what lies beneath the surface of a visual text. The amount of visual media Generation Z and younger millennials consume, outweigh, the amount of print media they consume, let alone, traditional written texts. Yet, we barely teach them the right way of analyzing these visual “texts and narratives” they consume on a regular basis. I cannot count the number of times I have walked into a class, only to be bombarded with questions on the latest movies and shows and what I think of them.
If you can’t beat them, join them. No, not a physical beating. Children have easy access to all kinds of shows today, and while we dissuade them from watching shows that aren’t appropriate for them, we are aware that most of them go ahead and break all the rules anyway. So, the best way to address this? Introduce them to good shows yourself and show them the best way to understand and analyze visual media. This, of course, not only prompts critical thinking but also brings in Media Literacy, a skill required for this Digital Age.
Sitting in a staff-room, many a time, student- teacher interaction becomes a topic of discussion, what is ethical and what isn’t? Many teachers stand by the “formal interaction with students only” rule: e-mails only, no contact information, no responding after 8 PM, no interaction on social media, yadda yadda yadda. While these rules might have their own logic backing them up, I sit twiddling my thumbs because I follow students and allow them to follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Hear me out, no, I don’t blindly allow them to follow me on every social networking site I’m on. I allow them to follow me on certain platforms and keep that in mind when I post content. Why? It’s simple, establishing a student-teacher bond in today’s digital world cannot be the same as 25 years ago.
While we exist as physical beings, we also exist as virtual beings. Our students exist as virtual beings and understanding their presence on social media not only helps create a bond with them, but also aids us in understand their needs. Furthermore, this form of networking also helps fostering digital literacy among students. For example, occasionally, I have intervened when students post inappropriate content or engage in cyber-bullying. Intervene in the form of a DM sent having them understand the implications of their actions. Yes, it is informal, it is not admonishment, it is creating awareness. However, more often than not, my students send me memes on Instagram, that have me laughing out loud, literally. Of course, this form of student- teacher networking could have its risks, but then again, what form of student-teacher interaction doesn’t?