Memes For Themes

As always with everything, we are spiraling through our curriculum and it is time to review THEME. This standard is always hard for me to teach because of the complexity of the standard--you need to reviewing elements of plot (characters and problem) along with having the ability according to our state's standard to summarize.

So this year I do what I always do when I need inspiration--I turn to my PLN on social media. This lesson was adapted by something I saw by author, speaker and best selling author Catlin Tucker--Creating Memes to Explore Themes. (you can check out her original post here) If you aren't one of my many Twitter friends, you may not know this, but technology is a fluid tool in my classroom and something we use and learn from on a daily basis. When I saw this lesson idea I knew it would be an instant hit. I modified Catlin's original lesson a little based on my class make up and age level and you can read through those steps below.

Day 1 

I split the lesson into two days to help address the multiple layers of our state standard. First, my students are required to show that they can summarize a story retelling the main events before they state and explain the theme. One of my favorite professional books is a book titled Summarization in Any Subject: 50 Techniques to Improve Student Learning by Rick Wormeli. One of the activities included is called "One Word Summary."  Students use their selection of text and collaboratively come up with a list of words they could use to describe the story. Each students defends the "one word" they would use and explain/defend why they would choose that word. For this lesson, my students were working to summarize a novel we had read together as a class. This helped because it allowed me to be working on the same text with all students. After each student had brainstorm their word, their assignment was to "illustrate" their word. They drew the words with “animated” letters that fit with the topic and theme of the book.

When their word was completed, students flipped their papers over and explained why they chose the word they did. They explained their word through basic summaries of the story, using various elements of the story to support the word they chose. This part of the lesson took the first day and we continued with the memes the following day.

Day 2 

The next day we picked up right where we left off. Students came to the carpet for a time of modeling and instruction. I showed them the google slides I had prepared--complete with a slide for each of them (names already on it by class number).  I modeled what my one word would be using a story we read aloud earlier in the year and then started creating my own meme. I first wrote my personal theme statement in the notes section of the slide. Then I chose a picture, and we brainstormed what text I could use to make my meme communicate the same theme as the book. This entire time I was also modeling how to find an image and how to maneuver through the google slides tools such as text size, font, etc. My example slide was the last slide in the google slides so the kids could refer back to it while they worked. When finished, we talked through any questions and then I let the kids get started. I rotated the room when needed, but also managed the class progress by scrolling through the google slides. 


When a student felt they were finished, they came to me and we reviewed their meme. We read their theme statement (located in the notes section) and I then checked to see if it matched what the meme was trying to communicate. I didn't use this time to correct a student with an incorrect theme statement, but rather was looking to see if they could create a meme that visually represented the theme they came up with. I used this as an assessment so I wanted their work to be their own and to represent their knowledge of theme--even if it wasn't 100% correct.  I later pulled the few students that struggle the following week to review theme again and to discuss the elements that might have been lacking from those students' original projects. 

I have included a few of the memes created along with the theme statement that corresponded with each.

Theme Statement: One small person can make a big impact.

Theme Statement: One small person can make a big impact.

Theme Statement: Doing what you think is right may be scary but if you stick with it you may find yourself enjoying it.

Theme Statement: Doing what you think is right may be scary but if you stick with it you may find yourself enjoying it.

Theme Statement: What we work hard to do can make a big impact on others.

Theme Statement: What we work hard to do can make a big impact on others.

The Merrill's