September 4, 2014

Interactive Learning: Using Memes in the Classroom

True story: Yesterday, one of my students left a pile of ELA work on my small group table (I can't wait to ask him why it wasn't in a FOLDER on the third week of school). As I was digging through the papers to find one with a name (eh hem... problem #2), I saw a plot diagram that looked VERY familiar. Sure enough, it was from Erin Cobb's Interactive Reading Notebook. I wanted to yell, "She's my friend!" because it felt very much like I was holding celebrity swag, and I wanted to brag to the world that I knew her "way back when"... you know... before she became the TPT sensation that we all know and love today!  

Today, Erin is hosting Thursday Throwdown, where we share our strategies for making learning more interactive for our students. My contribution to this party is quite simple, but it has really been effective this year. 

I start each day with a bellringer question to review previous learning and set the stage for the new day. It's essential for me because I use this time to take attendance and chat with students about absent/late work while my class works silently on recording the bellringer in their packets. 

I have this somewhat annoying "thing" where I MUST make things pretty. Every handout I create must include an image or border of some sort. My bellringer is no exception. It's just too boring to throw up a plain powerpoint slide with nothing but a question. 

My solution? Throw in a meme. Yes, a random meme. Sometimes, I use them to make a specific point about something like this:

Other times, it's just something I find funny and want to share like this:

I have to say, since I started doing this, I've noticed that my students are MUCH more eager to get to my classroom and look at that bellringer. I find that I don't have to remind them to get started because they WANT to look at my powerpoint each day. 

It really is a simple way to share a little bit of my personality with my students without distracting from class time. And I'm all for anything that gets my kids working as soon as that bell rings!

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