Teaching direct speech with Memes in Book Creator

Lee ParkinsonCase study, Elementary / Primary, English / Language Arts

This is a fun and creative way to get students excited about learning English.

I was inspired recently by how Literacy Co-ordinator Mathew Sullivan had been teaching speech with his students:

So I decided to do something similar using blank internet memes. A “meme” is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea. Usually they are an image with text above or below like these examples:

Meme examples

These were made using the app Mematic, which is featured in my new book ’50+ iPad lessons for Exciting Sentences’. The book details how the app is used to help children generate and share exciting sentences.

Using the idea of a meme, I used it as a way to help children practise direct speech. In the past I have used iPhone text messaging to teach direct speech which has worked brilliantly.

After searching the internet, I found some blank memes like this:

Blank memes from Harry Potter, Batman and Spiderman

We started by discussing how to punctuate direct speech, and we used colour coding to highlight three different parts:

  • What has been said directly in the “”
  • The reporting clause
  • Extra detail/description

I demonstrated examples of how the reporting clause and extra description can be at the start, in the middle or at the end of the sentence.

I then set the challenge of creating some dialogue for the blank memes. Straight away the children were hooked, they recognised the images from their favourite films/cartoons. The children could be as imaginative with the dialogue they created but then have the visual images to help develop the reporting clause and extra detail.

I initially asked the children to type out the dialogue onto the image using the app Book Creator, just to help colour code each part so they could demonstrate their understanding of the different elements. They then wrote the dialogue into their books.

Batman meme, made in Book Creator
  • Another meme example
  • Harry Potter meme

This idea can easily be used to develop children’s understanding of reported speech and even changing direct to reported speech.

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