Memes may not be the first thing you think of when you think about the study of vocabulary and literature, but they actually require clever analysis and a keen wit that can engage students in their English work like no other medium. Here are thirteen ways to use memes in English class that will up your cool factor exponentially.
Invite students to get creative with end of year course reflections by making a meme about one concept they learned. You could implement a framework by providing students with a common meme phrase as a sentence starter like, “I don’t always ____, but when I do ____.” For example, “I don’t always make metaphors, but when I do I compare two unlike things directly.”
If you would like ready to print templates and brainstorming sheets, click here for my end of the year Course Reflection Memes.
Teach your students about the types of conflict in literature using memes by having them play a game where they have to “buzz” in and state what type of conflict a meme portrays (character vs. self, character vs. character, etc.) You could also have students complete the task individually as a sorting activity.
Students can create their own memes for a character from a short story, novel, or play. The memes should convey some event or theme from the story and can be drawn by hand or created using a meme-maker online. You can also check out my Character Meme Templates Freebie here. This is a set of 11 meme templates with fill in the blank phrases inspired by popular memes. If your students have difficulty creating memes from scratch, these templates provide enough structure and inspiration to get them going!
Provide students with various memes and have them reflect on how they can make the different types of connections with them (text to self, text to text, text to world), or have students find their own memes for each type of connection and explain their thinking.
Use a common meme phrase such as, “That face you make when…” and instruct students to take a selfie and finish the phrase. You can use this as an exit card activity for a novel study by instructing students to create a meme that relates to how the main character is feeling at different points in the story.
There are many memes that provide good examples of irony, especially the “Bad Luck Brian” memes. You could display memes for whole class discussion or print them out for small group discussion about irony.
Using memes as writing prompts for journal entries or creative writing pieces can be so fun and engaging for students because they get to tell the story behind a meme that they are already familiar with.
There are a lot of memes that display a caption stating “Mood” or “Current Mood” followed by a description of said mood as it relates to the picture. These can be used as a hook to discuss mood and tone in literature by printing off various memes and then cutting the captions apart from the pictures. Students can work individually or in teams to place the pictures with the correct captions explaining the mood.
Help students remember grammar rules by complementing your lessons with funny and memorable memes that draw attention to certain spelling and grammar rules.
Help to build vocabulary or understand significant terminology in a unit by assigning words or phrases and having students make a meme by pairing the word/phrase with a picture they find and adding a funny caption that illustrates the meaning.
Teach students how to make inferences using memes by asking students questions about the subject of the meme, such as questioning why a person in a meme is feeling a specific way, or what events could have happened just prior to this picture being taken. Explain how using inferring skills help to draw these conclusions about the memes.
To help students review significant events in a class novel or play, conduct a review game where various memes are displayed and students must “buzz” in to state how the meme relates to the characters or events in the literature. This can be played individually or as teams. You could also conduct this by posting memes around the classroom and having students participate in a gallery walk where they study each meme and write down how it relates to the literature. You don’t want the memes to be too obvious, so for example if you’re reading Romeo & Juliet, you could display a meme about family feuds or young love, but not necessarily one that references R&J directly.
The “Starter Pack” memes are basically a bunch of items that an individual would need in different scenarios or items that are associated with a certain type of individual. Students can create Starter Pack Memes for characters from literature by essentially creating a one-pager that contains items related to a specific character. For example, for Harry Potter students could have a “Hogwarts Wizard Starter Pack” or for The Hunger Games, they could create a “Capitol Starter Pack.”