Education Is Everywhere
Education is everywhere – at the grocery store, in the back yard, in the kitchen, at the movies – everywhere, just waiting to happen.
Learning is part of living, as is teaching. We all learn and we all teach every day.
With a little imagination, a little creativity, anything can be turned into a teaching tool. I once gave workshop attendees paper plates and said, “Teach me something using a paper plate.” The ideas were endless. So, it was not hard for me to imagine using comic books to teach, a much easier tool than a plain paper plate!
Here are three different ways to use comic books to teach.
Comic Books As Textbooks
Language arts activities applied to a comic book turn the comic book into the “textbook” – and add a lot of fun!
Comic Books For Research
Students can research subjects in comic books and then use other resources, such as the internet, to gather more information to prepare reports and presentations.
The subjects that can be investigated are as endless as the topics and themes covered in the books. Here are some that come to mind:
Comic Books As Inspiration
Comic books can be the inspiration behind all types of creative projects. After reading and familiarizing themselves with comic books, students can...
Create a plan that incorporates all three ways of learning with comic books. Plan to use the books as a textbook, and then have students do some research and complete a creative project based upon the research.
Whether using comic books as the textbook, for research, or for inspiration, students will find the learning unique, interesting, and exciting!
What comes to mind when you think of comic books?
Your favorite superhero? Cool graphics? The collection in your closet? Think broader… what about the superhero Halloween costume, the movie, video game, and favorite amusement park ride?
A person that has never read a comic book in their life has still been touched by them!
Comic books are intergenerational, universal & influential!
The first comic books were produced in the 1930s. They have been enjoyed by many generations and in many lands. Marvel and DC comic books have been translated into all of the major world languages including Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Chinese, and the list goes on.
Comic books and their superheroes permeate our culture, especially the world of entertainment, a world that fosters imagination, creativity, and enjoyment.
Take just 5 minutes to list all of the industries that have been influenced by comic books and their superheroes. The results will impress you! (Hint: clothing, music, household goods...)
Can there be a better educational tool than one that is intergenerational, universal, influential and fun?
Okay, comic books are cool tools, but what can you teach with them? Whatever you want!
Yes, serious subjects can be taught via comic books, which are accessible & attractive to students!
Unleash the power of comic books with your students and find out how fun education can be!
To purchase hardcover comic books, VISIT OUR BOOKSTORE!
When I first started creating lesson plans to go with comic books, I did a lot of research. I wanted to know for a fact that graphic novels could be used educationally and how and why they could be beneficial. I learned a lot!
Here is what I learned about comics and English language learners (ELL).
1. ELL students need to practice speaking English conversationally. Comics have a tremendous amount of dialogue. When ELLs read comics aloud, they get practice participating in conversations in fun, non-pressure situations.
2. ELL students need to increase their vocabulary. Comics are vocabulary rich! They have to be in order to tell a story in tiny bites. When ELLs read comics, they encounter a wide variety of high level vocabulary.
3. ELL students struggle with reading comprehension. Comics include a vast array of graphics. When ELLs read comics, the graphics support their reading comprehension.
4. ELL students lack reading confidence. A full page of words can be terrifying. Comics break up the words into "bite-size" pieces. When ELLs read comics, they have breaks in the reading so that it is less intimidating.
5. ELL students may experience cultural discomfort. Most popular comics have been translated into a wide variety of languages and are available world-wide. Seeing a superhero in English that was experienced before in another language can provide comfort.
Tamarie Tigh, National Consultant
©2016 Reading Is A Superpower! | firstname.lastname@example.org
One of my sons is dyslexic, so learning to read was difficult for him. Although we worked on phonics, breaking words down to their sounds and syllables, he just couldn’t handle a whole page of words all at once. He would not voluntarily pick up a book to read.
I thought...until one day I found him reading a comic book. I discovered that the pictures attracted him and then he tried to figure out the words so he could understand the story. I was thrilled! He was reading independently – what a breakthrough. I went and bought graphic novel versions of everything, even Bible stories. He read them all. For two to three years, that’s all he read – comic books.
After building his confidence and an amazingly large vocabulary, he moved on to read other books. Eventually he took a Latin class, memorized Shakespeare, wrote his own poetry, read stories in Middle English…things I would never have guessed that he would do. Things that he probably never would have done if he had not spent time reading graphic novels.
At the time, I did not know that I was doing the right thing by supporting and encouraging his pursuit of comic books. I was just following his lead, his interest and hoping it was going to help.
Since then, I have become very involved with graphic novels and have learned the reasons that comic books can benefit dyslexic readers and allow them to enjoy reading.
1. Bite-size Text Decreases Overwhelm
One challenge for dyslexic readers is the overwhelm they feel when faced with a lot of words in one place. In comic books, the text is in small amounts spaced throughout the graphics. This allows the reader to decode a few words at a time with a break between as they look at the pictures. This process lowers the stress level of the reader, allowing him/her to actually enjoy reading.
2. Graphics Support Comprehension
Another challenge faced by dyslexic readers is comprehension. Because their reading tends to be slow and laborious, it is difficult for them to understand what they are reading. The graphics in comic books help the reader to understand. The reader can look at the pictures to get clues as to the meaning of the words. The reader does not have to rely solely on his ability to decode words in order to understand. This allows the reader to feel supported while reading so the process can be more enjoyable.
3. Font Can Reduce Confusion
A common challenge for dyslexic readers is the confusion of letters. The b/d, p/q, m/w are difficult for them to distinguish from one another. However, the uppercase versions of these letters are not so similar, not so easily confused. Interestingly, many comic books use only the uppercase fonts. Reading in uppercase reduces the confusion and allows the reader to more easily decode the words. Less confusion means less stress and more enjoyment.
4. Panel Sequence Supports Left to Right Tracking
Many dyslexic readers find it challenging to know their right from their left. Often they try to write, read, and even turn book pages “backwards” starting on their right instead of their left. Like most other books, comic books are written to be read from left to right and from top to bottom. The picture panels as well as the words are only understood if read in the correct order – from left to right and from top to bottom. Although this may not contribute to the immediate joy of reading, it does help with the future pleasure of reading as it reinforces the left to right tracking that is required in other formats.
What a surprise when years later ABDO hired me to write curriculum to go with MARVEL and STAR WARS comic books! Nearly 100 step-by-step lessons covering all different subjects – reading, writing, vocabulary, STEM, character education, visual & performing arts, and physical activities – are now available for free to those that purchase the books.
Please share and comment! I want to hear from you.