WonderCon, with its laid-back vibe and colorful cosplay, was a great way to ease back into in-person comic conventions. It was so wonderful to see friends in person finally! I had the good fortune to moderate two excellent comics-focused panels.
Creating Comics for Kids
A fun and heartfelt conversation that really showed how much work, love, and hope these creators put into their books.
Mary Bellamy (Faux Facts, Ah Heck!!), Sarah Kuhn (Shadow of the Batgirl), Shannon Hale (Diana Princess of the Amazons, Real Friends), His Excellency Gene Yang (Superman Smashes the Klan, American Born Chinese), and Brady Smith (Louie and Bear in the Land of Anything Goes)
Teaching Comics Literacy
Huge thanks to this panel of outstanding educators -- I learned so much from each of them! It was fascinating to see how they use the medium of comics in unique ways with their students.
Derek Heid (teacher, ELA 9/AP Literature/Critical Studies of Comics, Temecula Valley High School), Robert DeFrance (instructor, Long Beach City College), Jennifer Naumann (teacher, 7th Grade ELA), Mary Ellen Stout (lecturer, San Diego State University Department of History and Women's Studies; founding member of Comics@SDSU), Neil Kendricks (artist, filmmaker, writer, photographer, educator, San Diego State University)
Resources from this panel:
Derek Heid has made a TON of resources available in his Google Drive for Critical Studies of Comics. You will definitely want to take a look!
Below are some sample slides from this panel and a link to download the entire deck. I hope you find something to inform and expand the ways you use comics with your students.
Panel: Content Through Comics
My newest panel is for San Diego Comic-Con@Home!
Content through Comics: Teaching STEM and Humanities with Graphic Novels
Combining the learning benefits of visualization with the power of storytelling, high-quality graphic novels make both STEM and humanities subjects more accessible and engaging for all students, particularly students who may not see themselves as scientists, engineers, or historians. We'll discuss how the comics medium is perfectly suited to breaking down complex information and making content learning engaging and fun. And with the new emphasis on reading nonfiction, academic vocabulary, and reading in the subject areas, comics are more relevant than ever.
Panelist contact information:
Matt & Shari Brady
Co-Founders: The Science of.org
Shari is the Executive Director of Education and Engagement; Kaleideum Science Museum
Matt is a high school science teacher
Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand
Educator, teaching artist
Isabel Morales, Ed.D
Middle school history teacher
High school chemistry teacher
High School social studies teacher, MS Reading Specialist
Colorful History comics from Pop Culture Classroom
Madaya Mom free comic from ABC News
MOONSHOT: The Indigenous Comics Collection
Can you use comics to teach STEM/STEAM? Of course you can! Find out how and why with this panel from Library Pass. I was honored to join teacher and science communicator Dr. Shari Brady, creator Jim Ottaviani (king of science comics!), and educator and creator CA Preece in this discussion moderated by John Shableski.
Looking for graphic novels for your students? Help is on the way! I was honored to moderate the panel "How to Find and Choose Graphic Novels for Students" as part of San Diego Comic-Con's Education Series. Featuring amazing librarians and educators Christina Taylor, Shveta Miller, Jillian Ehlers, Karina Quilantán-Garza, and Janna Tropper.
Click here to access all the resources mentioned in this panel!
My newest resource book series, Story Engineering: Problem-Solving Short Stories Using STEM, is now available!
Integrate engineering and literacy into your curriculum with this innovative approach to learning. Students will read fictional passages and solve problems using STEM and the engineering design process. Students can create devices and solutions using everyday materials. Each unit focuses on one problem and one challenge, and other problems are presented as options for future challenges. The activity pages invite individual and group work with room for brainstorming, problem-solving, building, testing, and reflecting. Each book includes 11 (Grades 1–2) or 12 units (Grades 3–4 and Grades 5–6); each unit contains:
• A teacher overview and lesson plan
• One original fiction passage with room in margins for annotations
• STEM activity sheets based on a single STEM problem/challenge.
Each book is 112 pages.
I loved creating these books because I got to write STORIES! I think my favorite stories are:
You can purchase the books through Teacher Created Resources, Amazon, or most educational resource supply outlets.
I'm so excited to say that my latest panel video is up! "Comics for the Littlest Readers" is part of the San Diego Comic-Con Education Series and features AMAZING creators Jenni Holm, Jeff Smith, Andy Runton, Dan Santat, and Debbie Huey.
Creators Jenni Holm (Babymouse, My First Comics), Andy Runton (Owly), Dan Santat (Harold and Hog Pretend for Real, The Cookie Fiasco), and Jeff Smith (Bone, Little Mouse Gets Ready) chat with Debbie Huey (Programming Specialist for San Mateo County Libraries and creator of Bumperboy) and moderator Tracy Edmunds (Graphic Novels are Elementary!) about comics for K-2 readers. Find out why comics are a great medium for boosting literacy and practicing comprehension skills, and enjoy fascinating stories about the creation of these fantastic books.
Here is a list of recommended titles for little ones.
SDCC @ Home 2020
As part of San Diego Comic-Con at Home 2020, I moderated a panel featuring some amazing educators talking about analyzing graphic texts with students.
Words and Pictures Working Together: Strategies for Analyzing Graphic Texts
In this crash course in text analysis for graphic novels, educators demonstrate techniques and tools for building students' critical literacy skills with graphic texts at all grade levels. This includes demonstrations on how to lead students in analyzing the elements of comics and the unique combination of art and text, share resources, and discuss challenges. Educators Trevor Bryan (The Art of Comprehension), Derek Heid (high school English Language Arts, TVUSD), Shveta Miller (Hacking Graphic Novels), Talia Hurwich (Worth a Thousand Words), and moderator Tracy Edmunds (Graphic Novels Are Elementary!) share strategies you can use with students tomorrow!
Each educator's presentation is excellent! If you watched my WonderCon panel video (available here), you will recognize experts Shveta Miller and Derek Heid, who share new approaches in this video. I'm also thrilled to welcome Talia Hurwich and Trevor Bryan who bring even more methods for analyzing graphic texts with students.
Slides from Talia Hurwich featuring a step-by-step method for teaching visual literacy and graphic novels. Find more on Talia and Meryl Jaffe's book, Worth a Thousand Words, here.
Derek Heid's slides on using Reader-Response criticism to interpret graphic texts. Find Derek on Twitter here.
Shveta Miller's presentation on using a Constructivist approach to analyzing graphic texts. Shveta's website is here and you will find her on Twitter here.
Trevor Bryan's Access Lenses chart. Find more on Trevor's book The Art of Comprehension here. Trevor's arts education website is here and his Twitter is here.
But Wait, There's More!
Our video is part of an entire day's worth of panels for educators featuring noted experts Meryl Jaffe, Laurence Tan, Rachelle Cruz, Dr. Ebony Flowers, Michael Gianfrancesco, Ronell Whitaker, Eric Kallenborn, Nick Sousanis, Jill Gerber, Tony Weaver, Jr., Adan Alvarado, Adam Ebert, John Shableski, Kat Kan, and creators Yehudi Mercado, Gene Yang, Steenz, Jerry Craft, and many, many more.
Watch all the Comics-Con at Home Wednesday panel videos here!
WonderCon lives on! Due to the necessary cancellation of large gatherings, WonderCon is sharing recordings of panels online. An amazing group of educators got together to record a panel on analyzing graphic texts with students -- this is one of the best panels I've ever been a part of! Each teacher walks you through how they use and analyze comics with students, covering all levels from kindergarten through high school and beyond.
You Have to Read the Pictures, Too: Visual Literacy and Analyzing Graphic Texts with Students
In this crash course in text analysis for graphic novels, educators demonstrate techniques and tools for building students' critical literacy skills with graphic texts at all grade levels. Join us as we demonstrate how to lead students in analyzing the elements of comics and the unique combination of art and text, share resources, and discuss challenges. We share tips, activities, and vocabulary you can use with your students tomorrow!
Panelists: Laurence Tan (LAUSD and Teaching Tolerance Teacher of the Year), Derek Heid (high school English Language Arts, TVUSD), Shveta Miller (Literacy Specialist and Author), Jennifer Naumann (7th Grade ELA), Tracy Edmunds (Graphic Novels Are Elementary!), and moderator Betsy Gomez (Banned Books Week)
Moderator Betsy Gomez's slides from this panel, including many links to resources
Tracy Edmunds' slides on analyzing not-so-simple Hello Kitty comics
Laurence Tan's slides on an ethnic studies approach to critical media literacy using comics
Jennifer Naumann's resource on analyzing splash pages
Shveta Miller's slides on analyzing panels from Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis
Derek Heid's slides on analyzing Hawkeye: My Life as a Weapon
Now that all school is homeschool, parents are in need of help! You don't need to freak out -- there are so many amazing free things for kids and parents out there. Here are some of my favorite free online resources.
Free Resource Lists
Common Sense Media provides a ton of links to great resources, including schedules for live classes and activities, lesson plans, virtual tours and storytimes, and games.
We Are Teachers has put together a huge list of resources, including lists of the best educational TV shows, videos, and apps.
Excellent activities and videos, searchable by grade level, from PBS Learning Media. Their lessons and interactive activities are excellent for all grade levels.
YouTube Learn at Home (partnered with Khan Academy) lists channels for different ages, e.g. Families with kids 13 and older, families with kids 5 and up, families with preschoolers.
Look for your favorite authors and artists on Twitter and Facebook – many are doing read aloud or draw along videos and providing free activities.
For Younger Kids
Sesame Workshop offers free videos, activities, coloring pages, ebooks, and more.
Ranger Rick is offering free digital magazines.
Free super-fun videos and activities from Go Noodle for families. Highly recommended!
Here's a parent-friendly guide to the free Khan Academy Kids app, along with schedules, printable resources, and circle time videos.
For Older Kids
Khan Academy provides free learning resources and information for parents, including examples of daily schedules. It's the go-to site for students looking for help in any subject area.
This is cool: sign up to Skype a Scientist! You can also view their recorded events with scientists who study everything from bacteria to planets.
MIT Full STEAM Ahead provides activities, tools, and lessons for science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) for kids, in partnership with the New York Times, offers creative writing tools and challenges.
Dealing with Feelings
How to Talk to Little Learners About Coronavirus from PBS
Supporting Kids’ Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic from We Are Teachers.
Pollution is for the Birds!
I'm excited to announce that the newest Think Earth environmental education unit is online and available free! Stellar cartoonist Andy Hirsch (Science Comics: Dogs, Science Comics: Trees, and Science Comics: Cats) created Rosa and Able, a pair of hilarious pigeons that help kids learn about pollution. These two 8-page comics, called Pollution is for the Birds, in combination with the Classroom Guide, help students learn the causes and effects of air, water, and soil pollution, and learn ways to reduce pollution. This unit is aimed at 5th grade students but really can be used in grades 4-6.
All of the Think Earth K-5 units are available free online. Just complete the simple registration (don't worry, we don't share email addresses with anyone) and you can download everything, including comics, videos, pre- and posttests, student pages, teacher guides, and more.
Interestingly, we found in our testing that kids didn't understand the title because they were unfamiliar with the idiom "for the birds." We were curious about the origins of this phrase, so we did a little digging and found out that in the days before cars and trucks birds were often drawn to the undigested oats in horse droppings in the street. Thus, if something is for the birds, it's poop! Pollution is definitely for the birds.
And don't forget that our 4th grade unit, Waste Invaders, featuring comics by the brilliant Joey Wiser, is also available on the Think Earth site.
Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store for more graphic novel classroom resources!
Tracy Edmunds is an educational consultant specializing in curriculum development, project and online management, editing, and writing.