Monday, December 7, 2015

Memes - from Twitter Inspiration to Project Finale

Inspiration can come from many sources. I noticed at my school that many classes have been displaying some new, appealing artwork by students. When I asked the teachers how they came up with these art ideas, the answer is often "Pinterest".

Although I have a Pinterest account, I know I don't use it as effectively as I could. My go-to social media site for professional ideas is still Twitter. Thanks to Twitter, I was swept up in book spine poetry creation thanks to the Toronto Public Library and Kansas City Public Library's public "friendly feud" and Fran Potvin-Schaefer's TDSB library challenge. Way back in October, I saw a link to a blog post about creating memes with students. As I tweeted, it was perfect timing because of a teacher who wanted to collaborate with me.
Julie Millan gave us another great perspective and reminded us about ethics and digital citizenship.
So, how did the projects fare? Quite well, actually! The original blog post that inspired my work didn't make public the bank of images that the teacher-librarian collected, so I did some digging around and found a few meme generators. Many had inappropriate content for school use but this one seemed the tamest:
 As the teacher and I planned the unit and explored using memes for social studies and social justice, we agreed that using just a meme would be insufficient to share all they learned as part of their research project. The final task was tweaked so that students would create a brochure and a meme for the NGO charity of their choice.

The students were very excited to make memes. They thought it'd be easy. What they soon learned (like I did last week with my Much Ado About Nothing Twitter play) is that comedy is complicated. Making something funny with an important message as well wasn't easy. Finding the right image and using the right combination of just a few words was more challenging than they originally thought.

We used the article Julie cited as a discussion starter in class. There was still room for improvement in student comprehension, as they came to the library to print their memes in colour. One ELL student had selected a photo of a person with a developmental delay wearing a Superman suit and a goofy facial expression as the image for her meme. She did not understand that the visual was intended to mock the man rather than make him appear heroic. The classroom teacher grabbed the teaching moment and explained why this photo was disrespectful and helped the student select a better shot.

Students also used SMART Senteo Response clickers to answer questions about what constituted a meme vs a brochure, generating some media literacy marks so students could "identify the conventions and techniques used in some familiar media forms and explain how they help convey meaning and influence or engage the audience".

I'll try and post both the hall display of the finished projects as well as the anchor chart (developed with the students) about the characteristics of a meme here on this blog so that there are examples.

ETA: Here are some of the final products!

I'm grateful I was able to partner up with this teacher for what turned out to be a very engaging and interesting project. (Our next project together? Wab Kinew's Craft Reconciliation challenge!)

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