Comics in the Classroom
New teachers become more alert and aware of connections in everyday life and the classroom. For example, you will find yourself editing printed material for spelling and grammar errors on menus, newspapers and even church bulletins. Clipping articles for future use in lessons will become a pastime. The resources are boundless, such as the comics which can be found online as well as in printed newspapers. The messages in comics can be a real challenge to young and old alike which makes them ideal for learning and reviewing reading skills.
To get started using comics to support literacy in your classroom, post reading skills and strategies on the board, smart board or individual cards and add to the list as your comic collection grows. Some to choose from are structural analysis, prediction, context clues, key vocabulary, innuendos, retelling, analysis, questioning, relating new vocabulary to familiar words, author’s purpose, and relevant details. Post the comic on the smart board or download and print it if permissible. Students may work together to decide the reading lesson found in the “funnies,” as they are sometimes called. Comics with little children or animals as characters often present double meaning words which help when you are teaching homonyms, synonyms, antonyms, homophones and homographs. If the students are older they may try their hands at creating their own comics with reading skills you provide for them. Political cartoons may be discussed among the groups or entire class as to the author’s purpose or a social studies topic to be written about or debated.
Review your state standards or the common core standards for English Language Arts to correlate with the reading skills found in the comics. The standards identify the proficiencies that students need in order to graduate.
Activities with comics
Categorizing: Children may work together to put comics into groups such as puns, homophones, double meaning, context clues, etc. Then each student takes a comic from one of the piles and writes a question pertaining to it, such as “What is the author’s purpose?” or “Is this comic fact or opinion?” The group who scores the most points will each get to draw a comic strip. For ELL (English Language Learners) or ESE (Exceptional Student Education) the teacher may want to write the questions instead of having the student do it in order to save time. The younger boys and girls can act out the comic in order to better understand it.
Writing prompts: Each student picks a comic and after reading it writes the “rest of the story,” “what happened next,” or “how could the outcome have been changed if such and such had happened.”
Older students may write an opinion piece based on the political cartoons in the op-ed section of the newspaper or online version. Many newspapers now donate the online version of the paper to classrooms which is an excellent source of lessons to be found in social studies, math and science as well. If nothing else you and your class will get a few laughs from it.
Sites worth visiting:
What are reading skills?
Comic Strip Connections
Read Write Think
How to Draw Comics
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