Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Picture IS Worth 1000 Words: Making the Most of Memes and Gifs

Teachers often lament about how short their kids' attention spans are.

While I certainly agree that students of all ages should work to pay more and better attention to adults, the fact of the matter is this:

We just aren't feeding them what they want to eat, if you catch my drift.

Most teachers today, at least those of us who've been at it for a decade or so, grew up in a world of relative isolation.

My hometown of Mackay, Idaho (population 541) for example, received the daily newspaper two days after it was printed. Unlike those folks in more metropolitan areas, I had to wait until Tuesday after school to find out the NFL scores from the previous Sunday. It was a place where time stood still.

But now, with the Internet making the world a much smaller place, our students no matter where they grow up, have access to more information than we could ever consume in 100 lifetimes. And this info comes at them in short and enticing bursts. Unless something blows up or makes a funny noise, our kiddos lose interest after mere seconds. 

Simply stated, kids these days DO pay attention, just not to boring and outdated lessons and assignments they are too often subjected to. What "worked just fine for us," is no longer enough reason to keep students engaged.

What's more, the material and content they do pay attention to is a product of our instant-oatmeal-microwave-popcorn society. And it comes in 6-second chunks known as Vines.

To be clear, in no way am I suggesting that educators abandon traditional teaching styles in favor of quick flashes of lighting in the front of the room. What I am offering is some advice:

Why fight it? Take advantage of their popularity.

Short and pointed comments in the form of Vines, MEMEs and GIFs are a widely accepted form of communication and one that many teachers have gravitated towards to engage students and enrich their learning. Used as class warm-ups or exit tickets, or as a summary and reaction medium, memes and gifs allows students to express a certain point-of-view or opinion in just a few words.

Although some memes are as shallow as a sit-com quarterback, a picture with just a few words can show a depth of understanding akin to a short poem. Just the right facial expression combined with an exact phrase can tell an entire story.

Without further adieu, here are few of the Ed Tech Maniacs favorite educational (let's use that term loosely, shall we?) memes and gifs. Sit back and enjoy.

Feel free to Tweet us your own favorites so the eduworld can take part in the fun together.

Teachers at lunchtime


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