Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Graphic Novels in the High School Classroom?
Many high school teachers are not sure if graphic novels are appropriate literature to be taught in a high school classroom. They seem so easy and basic, lacking the depth of narrative most teachers are used to dealing with. However, as teachers we must remember that our society is changing, and to keep up with the twenty-first century learner, we must incorporate visual learning into our curricula. Graphic novels offer teachers an appropriate way to do this.
Many students these days have no desire to pick up a book unless forced to. Visual stimulation, internet information, etc., has changed the way students think and work. Graphic novels offer that visual stimulus that many readers crave, and many librarians and teachers are starting to see the value of housing and using these types of books to engage their readers. Sure, comic books and some graphic novels might be basic, but if it instills a want of reading in the student, it is worth having around (Lee).
Another reason to consider the graphic novel lies in its inherent media value. Again, twenty-first century learning is media-centered: electronic information, films, television, images, etc., are all elements of our changing society. Students need to learn how to interpret the messages they are being shown, and that is a very important skill that we need to be teaching the students of today. Graphic novels are one way that a teacher can do that. In these novels, students must interpret the images, as they are part of the story. In addition, perhaps the best thing about the potential of graphic novels is that most of the learning and inferring by students comes between the images – they really have to use their brains on these! Decoding this information and using it effectively is a lifelong learning skill that is imperative for students to learn (Lee).
Graphic novels are an excellent teaching tool for students who are English language learners, deaf students, and reluctant/poor readers (Lee). The visuals make it easier for them to learn and understand the story. In addition, all readers are more actively engaged in figuring out the images, and how they relate to the action and emotion of the story, invaluable skills for all readers, no matter what level. (See: Using graphic novels in the classroom: http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=7582)
Images from graphic novels can be used separately in various exercises to help students begin to understand the story and access previous knowledge. Using the images, teachers can discuss with students what they notice about various aspects of the pictures, like emotions, actions, and body language, to see what the students already know before even starting the book. This bridge from visual images to writing is not too far apart after an exercise such as this. In addition, this gets the students more actively engaged in the story and inferring what the rest of it could hold. Figuring out the motive of the author is an important twenty-first century skill (Bylsma).
A study done in a high school English class shows how graphic novels can used as a tool to bridge the gap between in and out of school literary experiences. Sharon F. Webster, the English Department Chairperson at Narragansett High School in Rhode Island, used comics and music to teach transcendentalism and other literary terms. The results showed that her students were better able to connect this learning to more sophisticated texts, like Thoreau and Emerson, and strengthened their understanding of literary terms when analyzing poetry or more difficult forms of literature, based from the understanding they gained from learning these terms using visual media (Webster). This demonstrates that graphic novels have a use in even the sophisticated classroom, and that no piece of today’s media should be overlooked when getting students to learn.
Graphic novels, and the potential they bring to the classroom should not be overlooked. Their relevance to today’s twenty first century learner is clear. Their accessibility for all types of readers makes them very accessible and useful in the classroom. As educators, we should really examine their merits before we cast them off as useless comics.
Bylsma, W. (2007, May 09). Graphic novels in the classroom: an overview. Retrieved from http://www.ozcomics.com/Reading-Comics/Graphic-Novels-in- Schools/graphicnovelsintheclassroom.html?print
Lee, A. (2008). Graphic novels in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Graphic+novels+in+the+classroom.-a0195013344
Webster, S. F. (2005). Using Comics and graphic novels in the classroom. The Council Chronicle, Retrieved from http://engres.ied.edu.hk/lang_arts/onlineRead/comics/NCTEUsingComicsNGraphicNovelsIntheC lassrm.pdf
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I went to the Texas School Librarian Ning to have a look around, and two of my fellow CSLT II members had already joined! Dendy and Mitch, way to go!! I can definitely see a niche for Ning. Very much like other social networking sites, but more specialized into groups. I could see me joining a group like the Texas School Librarian Ning for a virtual support system and to keep up with issues and trends through fellow librarians. I also like how Ning has all of the different tabbed categories where you can find pictures, videos, blogs, forums, etc., related to your grouping. You can even make subgroups, for example, the Texas Librarians on this Ning made subgroups of different grade levels of librarians. A very useful tool that will allow you a relevant community (or several!) at your fingertips!