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Assignment: Make A Writing/Learning Meme

posted: 9.17.13 by Traci Gardner

I like to begin a term with composing activities that help me learn about students’ background as readers and writers. I usually ask students to write some kind of literacy narrative (which I wrote about in this month’s Ink’d In). I’ve also created and gathered prompts on writing about writing that I use as formal or informal assignments.

One of the activities in the Making Learning Connected MOOC(#clmooc) this summer has inspired me to add a visual activity to the mix. During the MOOC this summer, we were encouraged to make and remix memes, creating pieces about the topic of making a MOOC or about the MOOC itself. The results were fun and informative. I learned a great deal about my colleagues and their approaches to teaching and learning.

Usually I ask students to talk about grammar pet peeves and various advice that they have been given by teachers in the past. We then explore the advice, separating the useful advice from the more eccentric. The discussion involves a good bit of mythbusting as students look at where the advice has come from and weigh its usefulness.

This fall, I’m still going to complete the activity, but I am going to ask students to present their advice about writing using a meme. To begin, I am going to share some example memes, like these:

I won’t be surprised when students are ready to run with this assignment, but I want to be sure that they have support if they need it. I plan to show students resources on the Know Your Meme site, with some warnings about the inappropriate images that they may find there. The entry for Unhelpful High School Teacher, the first example above, for instance, provides details on the meme, how it is typically used, some example images, and a base photo that students can use for their own memes. If they want to focus on a piece of advice that they have found especially useful, I will point them to Actual Advice Mallard. The site’s Meme Builder makes the production simple. They won’t even need an image editor.

I haven’t quite decided whether I will have students simply share their memes and leave comments in our class management system or shift the posts and conversations to another site. I’d like the images to have a life outside the CMS. I’m toying with the idea of having them post the images to a class collection on Reddit, where they can vote on favorite images and advice. I like the idea of seeing which memes rise to the top and then asking students to talk about how rhetoric comes into play in their effectiveness and popularity.

What is your advice? Where would you have students post the images? I would love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below or by dropping by my page on Facebook or Google+.

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