It was Friday afternoon, period 6 to be exact. Our last lesson of the day was to be another chance for my Year 7 English students to polish off a few activities in their study guides for our novel, The Giver by Lois Lowry. However, as I sometimes do, I had a 6-step lesson at hand when I walked into the room.
(A 6-step lesson is one of those where you think it up in the last 6 steps before entering the classroom)
My idea was this: students create memes (see below) using a free, online meme-generating application that reflect ideas or themes within The Giver.
The Giver is set in a world in which Jonas, the protagonist, experiences no pain, no uncertainty and no danger. As a utopian (or dystopian) story, there are ominous elements to the story that make an audience living in the comfort of the North Shore of Sydney, Australia, quite unsettled at times. Children are allocated to parents, jobs are allocated to citizens, everyone knows their place and acts accordingly. No one, after all, wishes to be released from the Community.
Why do this? Well, some clever (and not-so clever) memes relating to our school had gone up on FaceBook this week and so I thought up the idea to convince the kids that we can use that kind of thinking and technology to communicate ideas from our text.
There are some examples of inappropriate language on the meme-generators, but we can teach students to ignore and/or deal with that. There are some examples of inappropriate images, for example a man drinking a beer, to which all it takes is a simple suggestion that it is not appropriate to our school values or the task itself. We deal with it maturely and there is no need for escalation. This is hopefully what the girls will do when they come across this kind of material on their own. Learning from experience.
So, below, are some classic examples of what my girls came up with. If comedy is the highest form of intelligence (as our Principal reiterated at a recent Staff v Student debate), then surely some of these count.
For those of you who have NOT read The Giver, I have put explanations but a warning – they are spoilers.
Try to figure out which of the following statements fit which meme!
They have a council of Elders who make decisions for the community.
Citizens apologise to each other for the simplest transgressions. (two memes)
Citizens don’t feel love.
Citizens are only allowed to do certain things at certain ages, but some sneakily try it earlier.
Citizens wear certain clothes at certain ages. (two memes)
Citizens are allocated names.
So – how can you use memes in the classroom? Try http://www.quickmeme.com/make/