Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Tools For Making Internet ” Memes”

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Makr.io , QuickMeme, and now, perhaps the easiest of them all, the Imgur Meme Generator, are sites that make creating an Internet meme very easy. They let you grab anything off the web, or remix other memes on the site.

You might be asking: What is an Internet Meme? And how could I use it in school?

What is an Internet Meme?

Instead of reinventing the wheel, here are a few explanations from around the Web…

From About.com  (this is just an excerpt, and there’s a lot more info at the site, including a list of the most popular 40 Internet Memes of the last fifteen years):

Answer: A “meme” is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea. A meme (rhymes with “team”) behaves like a flu or a cold virus, traveling from person to person quickly, but transmitting an idea instead of a lifeform. According to Cecil Adams of theStraightDope.com, the concept of memes “is either really deep, or really, really obvious”.

Historically, a meme is a discrete “package of culture” that would travel via word of mouth, usually as a mesmerizing story, a fable/parable, a joke, or an expression of speech. Today, memes travel much faster than simple speech. As internet email forwards, instant messages, and web page links, memes now travel instantly via the Internet.

Most modern internet memes are humor-centered (e.g. Rickrolling, Ask a Ninja, Lolcats, Domo-kun, More Cowbell, Numa Numa Dance). Humor usually reaches the most people, and is the most attractive to forward to others. But many internet memes are also about shock-value and drama (e.g. Angry German Kid, Dogs Go to Heaven). Other memes are urban myths that tout some kind of life lesson (e.g. The Littlest Fireman, Mel Gibson and Man Without a Face, Kurt Warner). A few internet memes are about deep content, and involve social commentary and intellectual absurdity (e.g. Flying Spaghetti Monster, Russell’s Orbiting Teapot). In a few cases, a meme can become a conversational expression as well as a viral curiosity (e.g. ‘You Mad Bro‘. In every case, a package of culture or personal experience spreads between people in a virus-like fashion.

How could I use it in school?

Now, this is a question I hope readers can help answer. One idea that’s come to mind is wondering if my IB Theory of Knowledge students could come up with some memes that would related to what we’re studying. That could be a fun and creative assignment that students could do, especially right before a vacation break!

Other ideas?

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Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

5 Comments

  1. One thing school-based staff need to be watchful for is student use of memes for bullying other students. That can get vicious and lead to lots of drama.

  2. We had a student this past year who would use their cell phones to take pictures of other students when they weren’t looking, and then turn those pictures into horrible memes. It was really awful.

  3. I am asking my 9th grade world history students to create memes for Enlightenment thinkers. The basic idea is for them to use the big picture message of thinkers like Locke, Hobbes, Montequieu, etc. and create a meme with it. They are due next week. We’ll see how it goes.

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