Creating a Story Through Memes Continued

Okay so we’ve now seen how to use memes to retell the story through the eyes of one of the characters. But maybe that’s not your style, or you really like the digital storytelling rout so now you need something else to do in the classroom on one of the middle weeks when students are progressing through the story and your goal is to keep them engaged.

The rout that we often take during those middle weeks is an in-class reenactment. Which honestly is a great and fun activity. Except for the really shy students. They end up just siting in the back not volunteering, or when you do group reenactments they are the ones leaning against the wall and doing the bare minimum. And let’s be honest, reenactments are tons of fun until you keep on going back to them EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Then the students get REALLY bored. Because in this day and age, our students get tired of the same old thing every week. If we really think about it, each of them has at least a little A.D.D. in them so you really have to mix things up to keep them interested and engaged.

So maybe for that first week, or for that first book we do scene reenactments in-class. But THEN we change it up a little and instead of JUST scene reenactments we do meme scene reenactments.

The concept itself is pretty self explanatory. And trust me when I say that you will not have students say “do we have to create memes in-class AGAIN?!” Well, you might have one or two. But let’s be honest, that’s going to happen with any lesson you create. That’s just part of the “teaching experience”.

So the basic idea with this is to have students recreate a scene from one of the novels, using memes. (“Yes Marnie you’ve said that 20 times by now.” “I know, I know, but I keep on getting off topic!!”) So let’s say they had to read chapters 20 through 25 of the novel Pride and Prejudice before class. During classtime divide the students into groups and give each of them a chapter. OR have the groups pick a chapter they want to retell. Then have each group create a meme essay/story that retells what happens within the chapter they were given, or chose.

You could also do this with scenes. Choose a certain amount of scenes and assign one to each group. Or let them pick from the list you created. Each group then has to tell through a meme story the scene that you gave them, or that they chose. Students would then share their meme story with the class, telling the other students what scene or chapter they had and then showing the memes to the class. Afterwards have some questions prepared that the groups would need to reflect on and answer. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Explain your decision process for some of the meme images and their corresponding text.
  2. Why did you select that scene from the book? (If you have them pick the scene.)
  3. How is this scene significant to the novel? (If you choose the scene for them. In reality though all scenes are significant so you could work in this question either way.)
  4. What is one thing you struggled with as a group? Were you able to overcome that struggle? If not, how could you overcome this struggle in the future?
  5. What was your favorite part of this activity? Don’t just tell me that it was “fun” or say “we got to work with meme”. Those are the obvious answers, not a reflection.

I love having reflections like these because it helps the students increase their abilities to actually reflect rather than just answering questions. And I’ve seen from my own students that if they learn how to successfully reflect, this can result in improving their writing abilities. You’ll stop getting the “bare minimum” from them. With reflections you also get to see where they’re struggling and tweak the activity to meet their needs, along with your own.

Below is a sample that I created where I retold the story of the dancing scene at Netherfield (Mr. Bingley’s house) in Pride and Prejudice. This is chapter 18 of the novel and we have a lot happening at once. Lizzy, our main character, is hoping that her love interest, Mr. Wickham, shows up for the ball. But sadly he is kept away because of the brooding Mr. Darcy who Lizzy believes is a prejudice jerk and he is her arch nemesis. During the night Lizzy has to deal with clumsy dances with her cousin Mr. Collins who has secretly asked for Lizzy’s hand in marriage, along with a very awkward and heated dance with Mr. Darcy. Their conversation consists of Mr. Wickham so you know that’s going to be smashing. Lizzy’s mother also makes a fool of herself by saying, quite loudly at the party, that her eldest daughter, Jane, is pretty much already engaged to the host of the party, Mr. Bingley. Big uh oh since it’s not true. Lizzy’s middle sister Mary, who is a very quiet girl, performs a song at the ball VERY off key and Mr. Bingley’s sister, who is very snarky and secretly is obsessed with Darcy, warns Lizzy that Mr. Wickham is evil and Lizzy really should keep away from him. Lizzy hates Ms. Bingley though so she’s obviously going to ignore the warning. It’s a lot going on at once and a meme story is just the way to tell it.

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So that’s all for today — thanks again for tuning in if you’re not new to the blog. And if this is your first time — welcome! I hope you enjoyed this introduction and spend some time looking at some of the previous posts. Till next time…

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