One of my favorite things to do is to read graphic novels. Sometimes I talk about them in front of classes. Once I even submitted my slideshow to a journal. (If you want, you can see it here.)
This semester, I had a brilliant idea and designed a handout that could be folded into a quick comic book of sorts.
First, print out the file attached to this post with a two sided print setting, then fold it in half with the Vocabulary page turned to the back. This gives you an entirely blank Title Page, a single panel Splash Page, and a third page with a variety of panels. Pages 4 and 5 are left deliberately blank, so you have the option of a two page spread, or you can also use the panels from the reverse side which can be seen when printing on standard office weight paper. Pages 6 and 7 have different panel layouts, and page 8 is a vocabulary list I used in introducing concepts to the class.
It was a course called "Writing and Memoirs" so I pulled a number of different graphic novels from our collection that were examples of a memoir in an illustrated format. Want a list?
- American Born Chinese
- Cancer Vixen
- Mom’s Cancer
- Paul Goes Fishing
- Special Exits
- The Burma Chronicles
- To Dance
After my introduction and show and tell, I paired off the students and had them work together to illustrate a paragraph of text. When I was planning this activity, I was going to have them use a nursery rhyme (I was using the brilliant Nursery Rhyme Comics to showcase many different art and narrative styles. This also explains why the panel layouts have a title panel in the top tier.) but that morning Neil Gaiman released the text of his Calendar of Tales, and I decided the May Tale was evocative and mysterious, and more likely to be better received by the students.
It was a very satisfying class visit. I talked for about half an hour, let them work together for about twenty minutes, then spent the last ten sharing the students’ work via the document camera.
I think next time I’ll aim for more discussion, instead of just show & tell for the first half. The active learning component went very well, and I’ll probably do that again, perhaps with more explanation that they are working in pairs because although graphic novels can be the effort of a single person, it is more likely that each one is a result of a massive group effort.