Creating a Story Through Memes

Let’s talk Meme Essays. What exactly is a meme essay? Well, simply put: a meme essay is when you take an argument that you are trying to make, or a conversation you are trying to create, and explain it through the use of memes. An example of this would be the meme slideshow that I created that explained the importance of working digital tools into the classroom. You can find that blog post here.

The argument that I created through my meme essay was that digital tools are an important factor that teachers need to begin using in the classroom to help students apply classical literature to their current lives. I then backed-up my claim with examples of digital tools that teachers could use in the classroom and have students play with. The argument and examples were all addressed through a series of memes.

So how do we work the meme essay into the literature classroom? Well there’s two different ideas that I want to share with you: story retellings through a character, and scene recreations. Today we will discuss the story retelling strategy.

Now my previous post discussed retelling the story through a character’s eyes by creating a digital story. The meme essay is a different rout you could take with this. It’s a process that is a little easier for the students to grasp and if you want them to work through the activity quickly and complete it in a few days, I would recommend them creating a meme essay rather than a digital story. You could also mix things up and have the meme essay at a certain point in the reading process, while the digital story is the end goal that the students will create after they are completely finished with the book. Or for one book have the students create a meme essay, and then with the next book you consider mixing it up and using the digital storytelling strategy. Your options are endless and really up to what you prefer, I’m just here to give you the ideas, not a full layout of your lesson plans.

So retelling the story through the eyes of one of the characters using memes. The explanation itself is pretty self-explanatory. Students would select a character, major or minor, and then create a meme that tells the story of what that character went through while the story played out around them. As I said when we discussed using memes for hooks, I would recommend students using the website for creating their own memes. And I would highly recommend having students create their own memes, rather than simply finding something on the internet that’s already out there. Completing a Google search and then simply copying and pasting, results in the students not fully participating and not putting in their full effort. I know that this is hard to manage and control in making sure they don’t just take what others have created, but encouraging it will help. And for the most part, it seems that high schoolers in this day and age actually really enjoy creating their own memes.

Number of memes used for the essay is up to you, but I would think maybe seven or eight could do the trick. This also depends upon what stage in the process you are having the students do this. If you want them to tell a story after reading a few chapters or half the book, they will probably use less memes compared to creating an essay after completing the entire book.

You could also make this part of a major project that has multiple sections that all work together. This will make more sense with one of my future posts where I’ll discuss having your student create an ongoing social media account for one of the characters as they are reading. I think that portfolios are a great learning process for students, because it gives them the ability to collected and reflect on their work so that they can recognize their strengths and weaknesses, along with what they found worked well for them and what didn’t. Along the way you also learn where you are growing as a teacher and what your students need more of. So if you have a final project like a portfolio where they are collecting work that will build off one another to create something bigger, this is a great project that they can add to the process.

Below is my example of a meme essay that I created for the character Captain Wentworth from Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion. For this meme essay, unlike my first one, I did not include “captions” to go along with the story. The amount of text that students use to follow along with their meme stories is up to you. With this one I feel that the memes themselves should successfully tell the story, but sometimes the lack of “captions” can result in  just a random compilation of memes with no point coming across.

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And with that, I think we can call it a night. Thanks for tuning in today, whether it’s your first time or you’re a frequent reader — I’m happy to have you aboard. Till next time…!




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