When given the choice between doing schoolwork or reading comics, pretty much every student would choose the latter. Comics are exciting and full of action and fantasy, while schoolwork is traditionally, not. But did you know that as exciting as comics are, they can also be invaluable teaching tools?
Comics promote a variety of skills, including cognitive, intellectual, social, and cultural. They can also be used with students in different school grades to teach all kinds of school subjects. The format of comics helps students develop higher order thinking skills and enhance their engagement with multimodal texts. It has also been proven that visually illustrated content is much easier to process, understand, and remember. They are also effective because they engage students and allow them to practice key skills such as writing, reading, speaking and communicating. Best of all, comics are fun, interesting and certainly motivational.
Educators can integrate comics into the classroom in a variety of ways. Students can use strips to visually retell a story they read, or teachers can provide them with a partial comic strip and ask them to fill in the blanks with either images or words. Comics strips can also be used to raise students’ awareness of topics such as racism and bullying. There are numerous resources available online for educators that are student-friendly and simple to use. Among these is Make Beliefs Comix, which offers predesigned characters, speech bubbles and more to allow students to create their own comic strips.
Scholastic also offers a variety of lesson plans centered on different comics. This includes the Goosebumps: Make Your Own Graphix, which takes students through the design and writing processes for creating a graphic novel. Through the lesson, students will create their own graphic novel with haunted characters and spooky settings. The Center for Cartoon Studies offers lesson plans, study guides, individual exercises, and even complete syllabi. Much of the material has been contributed by various cartoonists and educators and are available in printer-friendly Adobe PDF format.
Pop Culture Classroom provides a wealth of resources for incorporating graphic novels into the classroom. In addition to the free comics and other educational resources currently available on our website, PCC is also making its two curricular units –Storytelling Through Comics and Game On! – completely free to download. The national nonprofit Weird Enough Productions has also released over 400 pages of comics, lesson plans, and activities free on their website.