We tried something new in class today!
We've been studying the formation of deltas, canyons, and sedimentary rock in science class, through a variety of models, demonstrations, and sketches. We've also been reviewing math skills, especially with number sense and order of operations. I wanted something that would be a creative way for students to really consider the information and synthesize it. Memes turned about to be a fun vehicle.
First, I collected some blank memes. I shared them through Google Classroom, making a copy for each individual student. (In my current school, elementary students don't do open Google searches, so I had blank memes ready for use in advance on a shared Slide.)
I also included a meme I made about an academic topic we wouldn't be working with today, to share as an example without stepping on their possible ideas:
We looked at some other examples of clean memes, too, so we could see that they are a visual representation of an idea that makes you think, and it usually makes you laugh.
Our criteria was to be sure our information was true/accurate, that it was formatted legibly and well-written, and that it was appropriate and on-topic (specific math, science, and social studies topics were given).
After that whole-group discussion, it was time to create. Students opened Google Slides to build their memes, using the blank ones I provided.
Here are some memes the students created about order of operations:
We discovered this was a surprisingly complex thinking task. Students had to be very specific and focused about the words they selected, and think about the tone (writing craft) when they selected a picture and the attitude the words would convey.
Humor is difficult to do well, too - some students had a natural gift for it, but didn't align so well with the topics, while others used the pictures with factual statements on top (not really meme-like). They had a new appreciation for memes that become viral and how much time it takes to create a short piece that works well.
It was also challenging to format the words and make them visible in the picture, so there was an element of graphic design at play.
Here are a few of the student-created memes about our science topics:
This was a learning activity that invited students to review and make sense of academic notes, create and revise ideas, and share their thinking with an audience. Now that we've tried it together, students can use this as a tool to show understanding and thinking about other topics in the future.
I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of students and families in IA, CT, NC, MO, TX, and Canada.