Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What's in a Meme?

OK, a "meme" (pronounced theme) isn’t the same as a "name" but it is an intriguing way to look at using blogs in the classroom and students as individuals. The use of memes was briefly touched on in my previous post but now it's time to look at this application deeper.

The definition of a meme, not related to blogging, is "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation." (Dawkins, 1976). A meme in the blogging world is a posting that requires active participation by the blogger and optional participation by the “tagged” blogger. It's often a series of questions that a blogger answers to share some personal perspective or experience on a random topic (QBlog in Blogging 101).

Out on the very big www memes are often quite silly however some really are on the serious side. The relevant question for us is what can it do to improve classroom literacy strategies? Whether you have been tipping your toe in the blogging pool or are contemplating diving right in, memes can make it very real, worth while, and manageable.

Language Arts Example:
As a class or as members of a literature circle in the class students are reading Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath”. Here is the meme posting for the end of Chapter 5.

Post: May 1, 2007 smartabano
I would like to hear from James and Susan
1. What does the author mean when he refers to “banks” as “Monsters” in this chapter?
2. What characteristics does he use to convey this?
3. How else could the author convey this to readers?
4. Is there anything about banks of the 21st century that demonstrate that they have changed?

I have tagged only two of my students in this particular post and will target others in subsequent posts. This time, only James and Susan will comment on this post following what ever classroom blogging guidelines have been established.


  • Students can provide a deeper more thoughtful response without competition from the entire class or the ability to disappear among the entire class.
  • Students feel important when asked by name to participate.
  • Teachers have the ability to differentiate questions based on student interest or readiness levels.
  • Inform students in advance that “everyone” will be tagged over the course of time (e.g. book, month, quarter) ensuring the process is fair and equal.
  • (li>Tagged students must participate by responding according to posting guidelines
  • Set guidelines for writing responses (e.g., complete sentences, spelling and grammar count, you will, or will not, be graded on your responses, etc.)
  • Make blog posting guidelines easily available for students to refer to, possibly as a resource link in the blog.
  • Decide if other classmates can respond to the tagged answers or if the tagged can then tag other students with questions of their own.

If you try this in your classroom, tell us about your experiences.