There are many ways to promote creativity and critical thinking in the classroom. One that’s become increasingly popular, might surprise you. Have you used memes with your students to get them thinking deeply about a topic?
Today on the blog, I have a unique tool to share with you that can upgrade your next creative lesson. If you’ve never asked students to make memes about what they’ve learned, they provide lots of ways for students to think deeply about a topic. And memes are way more than just fun social media content. If you’ve already had students create memes in the classroom, Antimatter can help you take a meme lesson to the next level. Antimatter is a free tool for teachers, that is essentially a collaborative meme studio for your classroom.
Using Memes for Formative Assessment
If you’ve never used memes in the classroom, there are so many ways to give students a chance to work with this popular medium. In the same way a cartoon in a newspaper asks us to think deeply about a larger idea, a meme also acts as a compressed little puzzle that speaks to a larger idea.
Instead of simply sharing a meme with students as a bell ringer activity, or asking students to talk about a meme you’ve found, students can take on the role of creators, too. By adding in the creation layer, memes let teachers tap into higher levels of thinking, such as analysis and synthesis. If you’re familiar with Bloom’s Taxonomy then you know how essential these higher order thinking skills are in every subject area. Teachers have used memes in the classrooms for awhile now (you might remember my past blog posts and podcast episodes about memes), and now there is a creative tool that helps students make their own memes.
Memes are a great option for your formative assessment routine. You can have students create content and evaluate big ideas by creating a meme. A meme can indicate how much the student has internalized the subject matter by asking them to apply their learning in a unique storytelling context.
Antimatter: A New Spin on Memes in the Classroom
For teachers already using memes in the classroom, Antimatter takes it to the next level. In the past, you might have asked students to email their creations or upload memes to a learning management system or space like Google Classroom. After these steps you might select a few student-created memes to display on a screen in your classroom for a whole class discussion.
Although this is a valuable exercise, you can increase opportunities for students to evaluate each other’s work. Antimatter helps tackle this challenge by having students create memes live on a shared canvas with the rest of their classmates.
With Antimatter, students have options to a wide selection of creation tools. Students get access to a selection of meme templates which are vetted by the Antimatter team for quality and age appropriateness. Antimatter also lets student creators remove backgrounds, create collages, and play with images and text, too.
If you choose to share student memes with a wider audience, there is a special space on Antimatter where you can publish student work. You can select memes created by your students to share on Antimatter’s Discover page for other students and teachers to enjoy.
Antimatter in Action
How does Antimatter work? Antimatter is powerful and simple to use. Here are the instructions you’ll see when you sign up as a teacher:
- Create a studio for each classroom. Note that it’s per classroom. If you teach, say, AP Physics 2, you would create a studio for Period 2 and Period 4.
- At the end of a unit, create an activity which maps to that unit. Continuing with the physics example, you might create a space for a unit on Optics or, say, the Doppler Effect. Some of the activities also ask you to create a prompt. You can set up an activity in Antimatter in less than a minute.
- Invite your students to the space via an invite link. Antimatter makes it simple to copy and share a link with your students. They can sign up via Google Single Sign on. Once they are in the space, students can start creating their own memes.
As I mentioned, setup on Antimatter is super straightforward and lets you get started right away. One of my favorite things about Antimatter is that they present the various activities you can use right away. These let you quickly choose one that fits your content plan and even your classroom culture.
Some of the activities involve breaking your students into groups. To make sure you have the right mix of students in each group, Antimatter lets you use the Randomize button until you’ve got the right mix. Then you can Lock each group when it’s right. One important note: Antimatter is only available for students 13 or older.
Getting started with a Meme Lesson
The team at Antimatter is very easy to get in touch with. They can answer your questions over Zoom, and this link will let you schedule a call. The Antimatter blog is also a great resource if you’re just getting started with memes. Check out this post on How (and how not) to Use Memes in the Classroom along with this post on The Three Types of Learning Memes.
Are you ready to get started with Antimatter? Head over to this page to see some examples of what students have created on the platform or sign up for an account for free (forever!). It’s the perfect time to try out a meme lesson plan or new, creative learning experience for your students!