When the latest Gatsby film debuted, screenshots began circulating online as a component of various memes starring Leonardo DiCaprio. I eventually used some of these as anticipatory material to engage students in the novel, but finally realized I could have my students be producers--not just consumers--of memes.
This project assignment sheet details the requirements for an engaging, student-centered construction and analysis of a meme. The students apply their understanding of The Great Gatsby to composing a visual-verbal meme, and then reflect on the design choices they made.
(Making the meme is easy with the many online generators available. Just use Google to find some that you can recommend to your students. Make one or two yourself first so you’re aware of the process. It will only take you a few minutes.)
In addition to asking students to reflect on their design, the reflection also asks students to articulate a theme expressed by their meme, and to choose a defend a fitting tone word that captures the attitude of their meme. Thus, one great part of this assignment is that students engage in writing, but they're not necessarily writing a traditional essay--they're making an argument, they're analyzing, and they're reflecting.
The assignment sheet includes an explanation of a meme, a list of expectations, a detailed rubric that assesses the visual and verbal aspects of the product, a caution about school appropriateness, and an example meme with reflection.
This could be an individual assignment or a partner assignment, and I usually let students choose between those options.
My students really enjoyed making these, and I posted them in my room to make a meme mural. I even had students make multiple memes because they couldn’t decide on their favorite. These products caught a lot of attention from other students and faculty, and made for a nice classroom display.