Making Curriculum Pop

new column: teaching with comics

I guess I'm sounding a pretty one-note tune here: self-promotion and comics. But hey--go with your strengths, that's what I always say.

This month's column at Comixology is a reflection on some of the issues raised at my NYCC panel, "Graphic Novels and Academic Acceptance." That session forced me to rethink even more the recalculations about how comics fit into curricula, a process begun at the Graphica conference at Fordham in late January.

Granted, the conversations at this panel were aimed primarily at students of higher education, but the lessons are scalable in either direction. Using comics for content is an option at any educational level, but then so is the focus on story-telling. Teaching students the fundamentals of narrative is important, and having them sketch out a story in visuals is just one technique. The notion of visual literacy, of learning to interpret, or to manipulate, the barrage of visual information hitting us every day, this also plays to a variety of educational levels.

Just some things to think about. I'd love to hear what you have to say!

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Comment by Megan Lucas on April 30, 2009 at 4:49pm
Yes! I use comics in a number of ways with kids. WIth the little ones, I have found it is a good way for students to consider sequence of events. They think of different ways that each scene can be arranged to create a new story. I have also found it to be a good way for older students to think about identity. I have had some students read parts of "Persepolis" and also learn about the artist, Kerry James Marshall:
This allows them to consider how they might develop their own character that has similar cultural ties, connections to history or represent interests as their own. Meanwhile, serving as somewhat of their own "alter ego".
Comment by Cheza Al-Kudmani on April 25, 2009 at 3:14am
I love the idea of using comics in the classroom, I also teach many ELL students and this is a great way ti get them excited about reading. Obviously the great number of pictures allows students at many different levels to understand the story they are reading, even though they might not be able to read all the words. I mean we really use this alot with our students in the primary grades, this is how they begin writing stories! THey draw picture after picture and slowly integrate thier writing into it, I have never thought of showing them comics as a way of inspiring them, but I think that could be a great idea to us with young kids and ELL students.
Comment by Anne Williams on March 22, 2009 at 4:58am
I'm a great fan of graphic forms of books for students. My classes are 95% EAL learners and the visual format is so accessible for them. I just read an article in School Library Journal about Art Spiegelman [author of Maus a must-include book in any teaching about the Holocaust] who is moving into graphic writing/publishing for younger readers. The link to the article is

Anne in Kazakhstan
Comment by Ryan Goble on March 12, 2009 at 6:19pm
Karen - you know. I think you can now click on "Groups" on the top toolbar and create a subgroup of comic peeps - from there I think your posts can be broadcast to the group any time you blog - I don't know exactly how it works yet - I know Nick, Peter, Eric Kursman, Pam (my mom), Nicole and I would totally love to be invited to a COMIC group! Your stuff is great and I'm sure there are lots of folks out there who share your passion for comics! BTW - I got TOTALLY addicted to Fables over our winter break - i read through 8 - I'm trying to savor the last few collections. I'm so bummed that there are literally about 8 pages that make it not teachable - total bummer.

Anyway, hope your well.



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