Making Curriculum Pop

">Then and Now

">Homework 2.0

">Media Illiteracy

Project Description

For my project, I chose to create comic strips on the theme using the moving image in the classroom. Part of this motivation came from my students who use any spare moment in the class to peruse their Manga comics. I figured this was a great opportunity to learn how to create comic strips and later incorporate them in my curriculum. These would be especially effective for the two ESL students that I have in my class.

The first comic strip, titled Then and Now, illustrates the difference in today’s world from the world that existed before the Internet became widespread and a necessity. As teachers, we need to prepare our students for the future – for jobs that may not even exist yet – not for the world that we grew up in. New literacies, or “sophisticated uses of technology and multimodal, multigenre compositions” (Kist, 2005, p. x) are slowly becoming more common tools in the classroom that allow students to create meaning and express themselves.

The second comic strip titled Homework 2.0, was inspired by the presentation that Sprout gave in class. They said that even though scientific studies have sometimes shown that watching television is less beneficial to young children than interacting with parents or peers, statistics show that a large percentage of children are watching TV for over two hours per day. For this reason, Sprout decided to create programs for children that are educational and relevant.

Homework 2.0 largely deals with inclusion of parents in teaching new literacies. This was a topic that was not touched in depth during the conference. As an elementary school teacher, my reality is that parents are constantly involved in the classroom and sometimes even in aspects of curricular development. Some of these parents associate media with “fun” and not as “learning”. Parental education on matters related to new litearcies is crucial for teachers to teach using media effectively.

Media Illiterate is the third comic strip. It deals with the importance of teaching media literacy in the classroom. Media literacy can be a powerful tool in combating propaganda, stereotypes and misconceptions, and developing critical thinkers. Catherine Gourley’s presentation which showed Duck and Cover and Kist’s case study on deconstructing advertisements (Kist, 2005) both address this issue.

Use in the Classroom
After initially trying some of the recommended websites, I finally settled on to make my comic strip. I soon realized that numerous decisions are made in the process of designing the comic – character placement, color choice, face expressions, scenery, camera angle, and perspective are just some of the things that come into play. Since many of the students in my third-grade class will not be able to complete the film activity that Jen Powers’ described in class, I feel that they can learn many aspects of film-making, such as, high angle, close-up frames and perspective shots through comic strips. In a higher grade they can take their learning to the next level and tackle making short films.

Kist, W. (2005). New Literacies in Action: Teaching and learning multiple media. New York: Teachers College Press, Columbia University

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Comment by Deborah Kozdras on June 7, 2009 at 9:46am
Hi Arshi,
Great work...I plan to share your insights with preservice teachers in my Teaching Writing classes.
On another note, here is a lesson I created that uses comics as a response to text. The lesson is located on the International Reading Association's lesson plan site called ReadWriteThink
Deb Kozdras
Comment by Bill Zimmerman on June 5, 2009 at 11:16am
Dear Arshi,
I love what you're doing.
Hope, too, you'll try my comic generator site with your students --; it offers fun characters with different emotions, blank talk and thought balloons to fill in with texts, story prompts and printables. Students can print and email their comics.
Keep up your wonderful work!
Bill Zimmerman
Comment by Arshi Saeed on May 9, 2009 at 4:31pm

Thanks so much for the positive comments! I checked out the magazine you mentioned - they have some interesting articles.
Regarding bitstrips - I had to register with an email address in order to save my work. It is a great website especially since it has different levels of complexity. What grade are your students in? How are they reacting to the comic book unit? I want to try a comic book unit in the future and would love to hear how your students have done with it.
Comment by Arshi Saeed on May 9, 2009 at 4:24pm
Jiyean and Cheza,

Thanks for the feedback! I enjoyed the process of making these. I'm sure there's a lot of end-of-the-year stuff going on for both of you right now, but you should check out the website sometime.
Comment by Hilary Behrman on May 6, 2009 at 7:38pm

These are AWESOME! I like the theme you've got going here. They are concise, sharp, and witty. I have an idea for you: I envision these strips as a sustainable page in "The Journal Magzine" which is a magazine about transforming education through technology. The themes of media literacy and web 2.0 that you communicate have been addressed in numerous articles throughout the magazine. I think it would be a perfect fit! When you are feeling ambitious, try contacting the editor of the magazine and maybe you can get a feature!

Also, the website you used to make these is outstanding. I am in the middle of my comic book unit now, each kid is designing each character by hand in a drawing program to show emotion, composition, setting, and camera angles; all of which you displayed perfectly to communicate your ideas! Today, after reading your post I went to and played around. I realized that many of my teaching objectives could be obtained through this program with relative ease and much less time. I immediately had some kids start to explore the site and they loved it! (I did notice that you can't save anything unless you create an avatar, did you run in that?) In the future, I think I am going to use this as part of my comic book unit. What a great resource! Thank so much!
Comment by Cheza Al-Kudmani on May 6, 2009 at 2:00pm
Arshi, I love this idea!! What a great way to get students involved in both meia and content area, a a literacy specialist I think that are so many great opportunities here for learning especially with struggling readers and writers. I also think that your suggestion for using this with ELL students is a great one, as an ELL student myself in the past I can comletly undrstand the kids struggles and I would have LOVED to use these when I was struggling with reading and writing a a child. Also as a visual learner this is a wonderful way to get the students more involved!
I cant wait to visit this website myself and make one! I did not realize there are websites for this kind of thing.
Great project!
Comment by Jiyean Yoon on May 6, 2009 at 6:17am
What a great comic strip! I'm a visual learner myself, so when I looked at your post, I immediately clicked on it to check it out. :)These comic strips definitely represent how children's are living in the media and technology world. Without showing & telling the whole history of it, these few comic strips clearly show us how kids' are growing on online nowadays.
I think it's really cool how you created your own comic strips. Wonderful Job!
I wish I can make one,too! ^^


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