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.
Comics and graphic novels are powerful educational tools. But what if you or your students have never read comics? Try my 3-page PDF on "How to Read Comics." It lays out the basics to get you started.
And here's a one-page version with a white background for easier printing. I know teachers have to horde color ink like dragons!
For older or more advanced audiences, I recommend Jessica Abel's excellent free resource, downloadable here.
Below is video of our San Diego Comic-Con panel, "You Have to Read the Pictures, Too: Visual Literacy and Analyzing Graphic Texts with Students." I really enjoyed our wide-ranging discussion on the power of comics in the classroom and I hope it will be helpful to educators, librarians, and creators.
Thank you to all of the panelists! Follow them on Twitter for great comics information and discussion:
Rachelle Cruz @rawqeli
Derek Heid @MrHeid_TVHS
Laurence Tan @LTzy11
Tony Weaver, Jr. @TonyWeaverJr
And be sure to get Talia Hurwich and Meryl Jaffe's fantastic new book: Worth a Thousand Words: Using Graphic Novels to Teach Visual and Verbal Literacy.
Please share this post so that more educators can learn from these engaging, experienced experts!
San Diego Comic-Con was tons of fun and so busy! I was involved with four different panels at the Central Library. Below are the names and social media handles of most of the panelists, along with resources and slides from the two panels I moderated. There’s a lot of great information here! Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or would like to follow up on anything.
You Have to Read the Pictures, Too: Visual Literacy & Analyzing Graphic Texts with Students
Rachelle Cruz (UC Riverside, Experiencing Comics) Twitter: @rawqeli
Derek Heid (high school English Language Arts, TVUSD) Twitter: @MrHeid_TVHS
Talia Hurwich (NYU, Worth A Thousand Words)
Laurence Tan (LAUSD and Teaching Tolerance Teacher of the Year) IG/Snapchat/Twitter: LTzy11
Tony Weaver Jr. (founder, Weird Enough Productions; Forbes 30 Under 30) Twitter: @TonyWeaverJr
Aron Nels Steinke (Elementary teacher, creator of the Mr. Wolf’s Class series) Twitter: @mrwolfcomics
Thank you to Rachelle Cruz for these fantastic resources:
Click here to download a PDF of the slides from this panel.
Science and History in Comics
Thank you to Ryan Mita and the Children’s Book Council!
Jeffrey Brown (Jedi Academy, Lucy & Andy Neanderthal) Instagram @jeffreybrownrq
Jim Ottaviani (Primates, Feynman, Hawking) Twitter: @gtlabsrat
MK Reed (Science Comics: Dinosaurs, Science Comics: Wild Weather) Twitter: @yesthatmkreed
Emily Whitten (writer, The Underfoot) Twitter: @theemilyesse
Ben Fisher (writer, The Underfoot) Twitter: @benjaminpfisher
Michelle Nguyen (artist, The Underfoot) Twitter: @KuBits
Click here to download a PDF of the slides from this panel (includes title suggestions).
Ask Me Anything: Pick Educators’ and Creators’ Brains on Comics in the Classroom
Meryl Jaffe (Johns Hopkins University, Worth a Thousand Words)
Derek Heid (HS ELA, TVUSD)
Mark Seigel (5 Worlds) Twitter: @marksiegelbooks
James Parks (Rickety Stitch)
Gina Gagliano (Penguin Random House) Twitter: @_GinaGagliano
Jimmy Gownley (Amelia Rules) Twitter: @jimmygownley
moderator Talia Hurwich (NYU, Worth a Thousand Words)
Heroes of S.T.E.A.M.: Kids Doing Research Through Gaming
Jim McClain (Solution Squad) Twitter: @TheJimMcClain
Jon Loftus (University of Notre Dame's Center for Environmental Science and Technology)
Get the game through the Kickstarter: http://www.heroesofsteam.com
Thank you to everyone who came to our panel "Engaging Students in STEM with Graphic Novels" and to the fantastic panelists: Mairghred Scott, Yehudi Mercado, Betsy Gomez, Isabel Morales, and Derek Heid. It was an insightful and entertaining discussion!
What education-related panels would you like to see at San Diego Comic-Con? Click CONTACT and let me know!
My first trip to Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle was a blast! I met so many fantastic educators and creators and talked a lot about comics in education. Thanks to everyone who came to our panels! If you have any questions or need information, please send a message through my Contact page and I'll get back to you right away. And check out my Resources page for plenty of free information.
On Saturday I moderated the panel, "Can You Suggest a Good Comic With No Butts and No Guts? Exploring Amazing Elementary and Middle Grade Comics and Graphic Novels." Our panelists had so many great ideas around why kids should read comics, what makes a good comic for kids, and how to find the best titles. Here are some resources to help you find the best books:
ALSC Graphic Novels Reading Lists: K-2 and 3-5
Texas Little Mavericks List for grades K-5
Best Publication for Early Readers (up to age 8)
Best Publication for Kids (ages 9-12)
Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards
ALA Youth Media Awards
(Caldecott, Newberry, etc.)
Dwayne McDuffie Awards for Diversity in Comics
School Library Journal: Good Comics for Kids
We Need Diverse Comics on Facebook
I have updated my Comics in Education: Research citations list. It now includes 16 research studies and resources in the following categories:
If you know of any more relevant research, please let me know so I can add it!
Thank you to everyone who came out for the Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians in San Diego. I hope you found the panels helpful!
I mentioned during the panels that I would post an extra resource here. Below is my slide giving an overview of the educational strengths of the comics medium. I will add it as a PDF in my Resources section. You can find my list of research and an article detailing this information there as well. I hope this information is useful!
At SDCC, I was privileged to moderate a great panel on teaching fables, myths, and other tales through graphic novels. The panelists were:
–Alexis Fajardo (Kid Beowulf)
–Jenni Holm (Babymouse)
–Erin Hill (language arts teacher, Ramona High School)
–Cori McDonald (librarian, Ramona High School)
–Talia Hurwich (comics educator, researcher and writer)
Below you will find the slides shown during the panel and an audio recording. Thanks to Lex Fajardo for the recording!
I'm happy to be heading back to San Diego Comic-Con this year. Did you know that educators and librarians can attend panels at the Downtown Library for free? Sign up for the Comic Conference for Educators and Librarians and you can attend three days of panels without a con badge. Thursday panels are for librarians, Friday panels are put on by publishers, and Saturday panels are for educators.
And there's an educator and librarian mixer on Thursday evening that looks like fun. Free registration here.
I'll be on two panels Saturday:
3:00 pm, Teaching Fables and Myths with Graphic Novels—Bring fairy tales, fables, folktales, legends, and myths into your classroom using graphic novel adaptations that bring these tales to life. Panelists will discuss how creators' imaginative retellings build depth and complexity in the interplay between text and image and how these stories can be successfully taught in the classroom. Featuring creators Jenni Holm (Babymouse) and Alexis Fajardo (Kid Beowulf), educators Erin Hill (language arts teacher, Ramona High School) and Cori McDonald (librarian, Ramona High School), moderator Tracy Edmunds (Graphic Novels Are Elementary), and surprise panelists.
5:00 pm, Teaching Graphic Novels Across the Curriculum—Dr. Katie Monnin (education director, Pop Culture Classroom), Tracy Edmunds, M.A., Ed. (Graphic Novels Are Elementary), Erin Hill (language arts teacher, Ramona High School), Derek Heid (English/drama teacher, Temecula Valley High School), Scott Westerfeld (Spill Zone, Impostors), and Aron Steinke (Mr. Wolf's Class) explore a number of approaches and blended models for comics in the classroom by connecting these texts and lessons across subject matter areas (math/science/history/English/business, etc.). Pulling input from both educators and creators, the panel will discuss which titles work well across curricular lines, how educators can collaborate to make them effective learning and teaching tools, and how creators can tailor their works to find audiences that span multiple areas of interest for readers. Moderated by Adam Kullberg (education program manager, Pop Culture Classroom).
You can register for the free San Diego Comic-Con library panels here. Hope to see you there!
Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store for more graphic novel classroom resources!
Tracy Edmunds is a teacher and educational consultant specializing in curriculum development, editing, and writing, focusing on the areas of comics and science.