Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Graphic Novels, Digital Comics, and Technology-Enhanced Learning: Part 2

Magazine article Teacher Librarian

Graphic Novels, Digital Comics, and Technology-Enhanced Learning: Part 2

Article excerpt

An elementary student scans concert tickets for her graphic autobiography.

An eighth grader creates a comic to explain a pre-algebra problem.

A teen draws images for her graphic novel set in Ancient Greece.

From writing graphic novels to creating science comics, bring your class assignments, student projects, and course materials alive with 21st century approaches to communication. Regardless of whether you prefer Mac or PCs, students can use free online tools as well as inexpensive software to produce graphic novels, illuminated term papers, visual science reports, photo essays, and other engaging alternatives to traditional reports and student projects. These concrete products reflect student understanding and provide an alternative to traditional forms of assessment.

Today's graphic communication projects help students synthesize and apply digital scraps, primary source documents, photographs, charts and graphics, and other visuals to create meaningful communications.

The introduction of Comic Life and other inexpensive, easy-to-use software has helped to make producing comics easy. Rather than a traditional biography report, consider combining graphic novels and Comic Life software. Use The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam by Ann Marie Fleming as an example of ah illustrated memoir. Based on a documentary, this book contains a wide variety of images from hand drawings to screen shots from videos.

Rather than writing a report about a person, ask students to select a family member of friend, design an investigation, and report the findings in the form of a comic. Of, work with the local historical society to explore famous local or state personalities. Incorporate original drawings and primary source documents including photographs; birth, death, and marriage certificates; scanned tickets, newspaper clippings, and other materials. Figure 1 shows an excerpt from a graphic biography created in Comic Life.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

CREATING COMICS IN THE CLASSROOM

As you develop assignments that incorporate comics, think about the wide variety of graphic elements that could be integrated.

Evaluating Comics. Before jumping into the creation of your own comics, evaluate the work of others. Use the Cartoon Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives http://www.archives. gov/education/lessons/worksheets/cartoon.html to help students analyze comics.

Exploring Copyright Issues. Your students can find lots of drawings, photos, and other graphics online. Before using these images, it is important to think about copyright restrictions. In most cases students can use images for educational purposes as long as they are not posting them online again or selling them. If students plan to put them on a web site, read the guidelines carefully. It is also okay to use materials that are distributed as part of a media packet from a publisher. They often provide a book cover and one interior page. Many government agencies have image collections containing public domain images such as CDC Public Health Image Library, http://phil.cdc.gov. For example, you might use the mosquito image in a project on West Nile Virus (see Figure 2). In this case, they ask for a photo credit.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

When possible, use web sites that contain royalty free photos. For instance a mature high school student might read a historical graphic novel such as 300 by Frank Miller (1999), about the Battle of Thermopylae, which was a significant event in ancient world history. The Spartan King Leonidas and his 300-man team of bodyguards fought the massive army of Emperor Xerxes of Persia. The Spartans were destroyed. The student could focus on researching the authenticity of the storyline and identifying the fact and fiction of the story. Use resources such as Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia. org/to gather public domain images of the battle grounds. …

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