This is a group activity that I use to introduce the concept of historical/cultural context to my students. (They will go on to analyze the historical and cultural context of Civil Rights -era pieces and discuss how those pieces were shaped by the events surrounding them.)
I have selected six memes, and this activity is designed for six groups, although you may certainly cut a meme or two if you want fewer groups.
Each meme has two aspects of historical or cultural context that must be understood in order to "get" the meme:
1. "It's Gonna Be May" (only relevant at the end of April; viewer must recognize Justin Timberlake and the N'Sync song)
2. "Deflategate" (viewer must recognize Tom Brady's image and have knowledge of the recent deflating scandal)
3. "Doctor and Obama" (viewer must recognize reference to Affordable Care Act and the recent recasting of Doctor Who)
4. "Yoda" (viewer must recognize the reference to YOLO and understand how Yoda speaks)
5. "Tim Howard and Mufasa" (viewer must recognize Lion King moment and have knowledge of Tim Howard's goalie dives from the World Cup)
6. "Dory" (viewer must recognize Dory and her memory-loss, as well as the reference to the song "Call Me Maybe")
Some of your students may need help with the context of some of these memes. I am anticipating some difficulties with the Doctor Who meme and the Tim Howard meme, although you may have a student or two who are familiar with those references.
This activity comes with the memes (arranged on two pages for cost-efficient printing, although feel free to enlarge them!).
It also comes with a half-page worksheet to be completed by each group (arranged two-to-a-page for easy printing).
The worksheet is designed to get students to think about the elements of historical and cultural context the viewer needs in order to "get" the meme, as well as what might happen to the meme's message if one of those elements is missing.
This activity can be done in groups, as designed, or can easily be turned into a whole-class discussion.
I could also see this activity being effective for a social studies class in a culture unit, or perhaps a sociology class.
Created for Ms Moore's English Classroom