Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mythology Memes Project

As I often do near the end of the school year, i joined the remaining students in our high school Mythology class after the seniors graduated. We took two class periods to try out a creative project based on popular memes.

This was an entertaining project that provided room for humor and plenty of room for references to material the students learned previously in the semester. Below I'll present the outline of what we did and also the presentation I used in class. At the end I'll give a few other thoughts of how I'd improve the lesson next time.

1) I introduced the project with a definition of memes, some examples and an explanation of why I find them valuable for a lesson.

2) We played a caption game using funny pictures I found online. See below for more details on the game.

3) I presented a few memes I created that refer to the mythology class or myths in general. (The teacher wasn't too thrilled with my couple jabs at the course, but I'm a former math teacher and the Mythology class is one of the most popular in the high school. I guess I was bitter!)

4) After that, I gave them the assignment of creating four memes using the pictures I saved to the network drive.

5) The next day I started with some thoughts about copyright and fair use.

6) I showed examples of memes that combine two or more pictures along with some text.

7) I assigned the second part of the assignment which required them to create one of these more complex memes.

Here are the slides for the presentation. I made some minor adjustments after the lesson, but this will give you a good idea of the flow and it includes all examples I used.

Other notes and thoughts for improvement:

  • The lesson could be expanded to allow students to explore the copyright issues surrounding memes themselves.
  • I planned on getting pictures of the students and the teacher so we could make our own memes, but we ran out of time.
  • The teacher and I agreed that next time we need to give them more material to work with. I would list some myths and characters that they could refer to specifically in the memes. I also needed to provide some specific examples along those lines.
  • I wanted to have students share their memes on social media and get extra credit if they received any attention from friends and followers. Again, there wasn't enough time for this part of the activity.
  • For the creativity game, I chose one student to be the judge. I displayed one of the pictures you will see in the presentation. I gave the other students about two minutes to write one or more captions for the image. I read them (making sure they were appropriate) to the class and the judge picked his or her favorite two. We only had time to do this with three pictures, but it was good practice that loosened everyone up for the creativity required for the memes. See this page for many other examples of my creativity games for the classroom.
  • I was going to use the meme creator at to create the memes, but there couple that were slightly inappropriate. I downloaded the blank meme pictures and showed the students how to use Paint to make simple memes. That very basic program worked well enough for the first part of the project, but it was tricky to use for combining elements in part two. I would have preferred to use GIMP, but we didn't have time to learn that more complex image editing program.
  • As you might imagine, it did take some effort to make sure students were keeping their memes appropriate for school. I had to remind them a few times, but overall they were a great group to work with. Depending on your students, you might have to provide more boundaries on possible humor or limit the options in the pool of meme templates.

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