So over the past month or so I have been using memes in my lessons. For anyone who has missed out on the phenomenon, a meme is usually characterised as a picture, with text above and below the focus point of the photograph (normally a celebrity or cartoon character).
They are quite easy to make, online there are a number of ways to begin creating memes. From personal experience, and research, I would advocate teachers making their own online, rather than leaving children to be independent on the websites; as from time-to-time they may feature inappropriate language. My preferred website at the moment of writing this is makeameme.org . This is purely from an online safety perspective. Once on this website I can choose an appropriate image, add the relevant text and export ready for my lesson- this can all be achieved in 5 minutes tops! But why bother? Memes are part of modern culture, love them or hate them- they’re here. We can’t ban them from the internet or shun them completely, in my experience this is a bad approach to online safety and e-safeguarding. What we can do as educators is embrace them! We can show our pupils how to use them in a funny, appropriate and hopefully educational way.
So if you would prefer the migraine free method, collect a copyright free image of a celebrity/cartoon character (see Mark Anderson’s brilliant blog about Copyright and schools). Next, using Microsoft PowerPoint or Word, other software is available, and insert text over the image. I’ve used memes in a variety of lessons and always had great results from my children. Below I have included some ways to use memes in your lessons, enjoy!
Hook the topic: Whether you are introducing a new topic or trying to add some life to an old one, a meme is a very quick and simple way to inject some fun into a discussion. Try using a meme at the start of a lesson and you will find that something light-hearted can lead to some much deeper conversations, discussion and thinking.
Fill in the ________(blank): This is a more engaging way of asking questions, if you create a ‘half-meme’ that is relevant to a classroom topic or subject. Then ask your children to use their own thoughts on the subject to fill in the blank. Not only can you gear this to push your class’ critical thinking, but you will find that students have much more thoughtful opinions when questions are presented just a little differently.
Rules and advice: Setting and enforcing rules is a necessary but not particularly cheerful or friendly side of school life. Instead of your traditional class rules poster, use memes to deliver your message with humour.
Summing up, memes are an interesting, fun string to add to your educational bow. They are an exciting part of our digital culture and are here to stay- so we might as well use them! The only limit really is your imagination as a teacher, as they can be customised you can keep changing the text to suit your needs. However, that being said, recycling celebrities could be tiring for you and the children so keep it fresh and you’ll enjoy them. If you use them I’d love to see it so join me on a Monday and share the memes you’ve made, using the hashtag #mondaymemeday
To read Mark Anderson’s brilliant blog about Copyright and schools:
For more ideas on how to use memes in the classroom:
For EdTech ideas:
Thanks for reading!