by Randy Fairfield, 3/21/18
No, students will not be asked to effectively integrate animated GIFs into their writing on their high stakes standardized tests. They probably won’t be asked to analyze questions related to the author’s purpose in using animated GIFs in a blog post either. And that’s a shame. It’s a shame because animated GIFs have become an increasingly important way people communicate, and it’s a shame because there is a whole lot of higher order thinking that goes into this whole animated GIF thing. Just think about it!
Not convinced yet? Just consider how my use of animated GIFs supported my response to a small kerfuffle that unfolded over an email chain at my church this past week. There were some concerns expressed that some children had gotten into the habit of taking the gluten free snacks provided during coffee hour, and as the email chain started to get a little too snippy for my liking, I decided to try and diffuse the situation with a little humor by sending this email:
The following is a true story about the last 24 hours of my life:
Opens email from the rector.
Closes email. Goes about my day.
Opens reply all emails.
Considers whether or not 1 Cor 11:17-33 has any relevant wisdom.
Says a short prayer.
Considers the following passage from Proverbs 32:
Oops. I accidentally on purpose slipped a meme in there at the end instead of an animated GIF. I actually thought about renaming the title of this blog post to, “If a Picture Speaks 1,000 Words, a Meme Speaks 10,000, and an animated GIF Speaks 100,000.” Then I decided that would be a bit too wordy. In fact, I’m being a bit too wordy now! Moving on…
So, yeah, I had to put a lot of thought into which animated GIFs I selected for that email. It took a number of different searches on Giphy for me to find the animated GIFs that precisely communicated the feelings I wanted to convey. Perhaps we should be teaching our students how to do this stuff, eh? As a reader, did you find yourself watching and then re-watching the animated GIF loops to see what I was going for? What do you think I was thinking? Deep questions. Maybe ones we should be asking our students? Just a thought.
Animated GIFs can be used as a one-off to convey humor, help tell a story, draw attention to a social media post, and so much more! When I was in the classroom as a teacher, sometimes I would send my students assignment comments on Edmodo with animated GIFs and memes to give them feedback on their work and to encourage them in a fun way to keep working towards mastery. Sometimes I would include these images in assignments I posted on Edmodo to keep the group from being nothing more than stale and uninviting text. Here is one I used to send my students when they didn’t capitalize “I” in their essays:
Below are some resources to help you begin using animated GIFs and memes. Some of the content found on these resources is not suitable for children, so curating resources for students use and putting it in a shared Google Drive folder is probably the best way to proceed.
• GIPHY – https://giphy.com/
• Cut duration of animated GIF – https://ezgif.com/cut
• Blank meme templates – https://imgflip.com/memetemplates
• Meme Generator – https://memegenerator.net/
• Google Draw meme template – Link
• GIPHY CAM (Android)
• Meme Generator (Android)
• Video & GIF Memes (Android)