My unit on The Lost Generation and Disillusionment needed an upgrade. My students didn’t enjoy the dismal mood of the texts, struggled with the concept of disillusionment, and were itching for summer vacation. Fortunately, this activity provided and hands-on, technology-rich (but not complicated), and seemingly “cool” way to engage with the unit’s literature.
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 Lost Generation and the concept of disillusionment 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. Finally, students are also asked to explain which piece of class reading their meme most responds to. (I didn’t name particular texts on my assignment sheet, but texts I’ve used include various poems by both American and European poets, and the short story “Soldier’s Home” by Hemingway.)
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, they're reflecting, and they're making connections.
This could be an individual assignment or a partner assignment, and I usually let students choose between those options.
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.
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.