Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Comics in the Classroom

Magazine article AMLE Magazine

Comics in the Classroom

Article excerpt

When I was a middle school student, experience told me that when we had a substitute teacher in English class, we would spend the entire class period coloring a scene that depicted something from the text we were reading.

However, coloring and creating something visual should not be just an easy substitute for the day's lesson. Language arts is about broadening perspective, identifying and relating to themes, discovering and respecting alternate viewpoints, and applying ideas to a variety of contexts, including art.

Several technology-based programs ramp the "coloring" up a notch and take advantage of the popularity of iPads and laptops to incorporate comic creation into the classroom. Programs like Pixton (www.pixton.com), Chogger (www.chogger.com), and ToonDoo (www.toondoo.com) offer an endless number of template comics students can alter, as well as tools to design their own. Some programs are free; others offer special pricing for teachers, making them very affordable in a tough economy.

Content and More

When we ask students to create a color comic that illustrates the introduction, narrative hook, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion of a short story, we are asking them to take the knowledge that they gained from reading that short story and applying it to a new context: a picture. Students must recall each literary term, think about each in the context of the story, and determine the best way to create a visual of that section of the story. This is what language arts is all about: applying terms to knowledge and interpreting a text.

Since they are designed for classroom use, these technology-based programs include easy-to-navigate options for teachers and students. For example, in Pixton, teachers can set up an online classroom where students log onto their Pixton account and have the option to design a comic from scratch or choose one of hundreds of templates to kick-start their creation.

After they have selected their comic template, students begin to construct their comic, designing the background of the comic, adding props, scenery, color, characters, facial expressions- the opportunities for creativity are endless.

With these Web 2.0 tools, language arts teachers provide a classroom environment that appeals to several types of learners. Although writing is an important skill in a language arts classroom, of course, visual learners can shine in assignments that give them an opportunity to draw and create. Creating images encourages students to look at aspects of literature in a new, exciting way and engage in a deeper level of thinking and understanding. …

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