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It’s not unusual for a comics creator to visit a classroom, but the program that Eben Burgoon led for the Sacramento, California, nonprofit 916 Ink was much more than that: a six-week workshop in which elementary school students learned to write comics, then pitched their stories to professional artists who worked with them on the finished product. The workshop included a variety of exercises and techniques, including the “Marvel Method” — Burgoon gave the students pages of finished art and had them fill in the word balloons — and making up the backstory for a random LEGO Minifig.
916 Ink promotes literacy by encouraging young people to write their own stories and poems, and it has published more than 25 books of student work. Its comics program is new and was spurred by demand from both parents and students; the finished work, released this week, will be available in local comics shops, through the 916 Ink website, and eventually through other channels.
We spoke with Burgoon about what he did with the students, how they worked with the artists, and why he thinks comics are a good medium for a literacy program.
The University of Kentucky has developed an awesome tool for making the periodic table of elements fun. The Periodic Table of Comic Books allows users to click an element and discover comics that talk about it, while also reading analyses of how scientifically accurate those comics are.
It’s still a work in progress, so there aren’t yet entries for say, meitnerium or astatine, but there are a surprising number of references for elements like hafnium and lutetium in addition to expected ones like oxygen, nitrogen, and – of course – krypton. As an example, below is Scrooge McDuck talking about lithium, but there are also fun examples of Jimmy Olsen looking for germanium and the Beyonder turning an office building into gold. A fun, educational way to kill some time.
The comics literacy non-profit, Reading With Pictures is dedicated to getting comics into classrooms. In addition to cultivating research on the role of comics in education, the mostly volunteer organization seeks to produce its own comics for schools to use and would like your help for their second publication. I say “mostly volunteer,” but that doesn’t include the creators of the new book. They’ll be paid for their contributions and that – plus the large print run – is a major reason Reading With Pictures needs $65,000 to complete the project.
The first Reading With Pictures comic was the Harvey-nominated Reading With Pictures Anthology that featured work by Jill Thompson, Fred Van Lente, Raina Telgemeier, Chris Giarrusso, and others. The new compilation, The Graphic Textbook will include Ben Caldwell, Fred Van Lente, Ryan Dunlavey, Chris Schweizer, Russell Lissau, Marvin Mann, Amy Reeder, Janet Lee, Katie Cook, Roger Langridge, Josh Elder, Dean Trippe, and others.
The collection will contain 12 short stories (both fiction and non-fiction) that are appropriate for grades 3-6 and include a variety of subjects from Social Studies and Math to Language and Science. There will also be a Teacher’s Guide with “lesson plans customized to each story, research-based justifications for using comics in the classroom, a guide to establishing best classroom practices and a comprehensive listing of additional educational resources.”
It’s a great cause with some great creators and some nifty rewards ranging from copies of the book and original art to being drawn into one of the stories.
Chris Wilson’s blog, The Graphic Classroom is designed to recommend comics to teachers and librarians, but the educator recently served in another way when he was contacted by a young boy named Sam who wasn’t allowed to count his comics reading for his third-grade reading program.
Sam wasn’t satisfied with the rationale his teacher gave him, so with the support of his parents he made comics in education the subject of his science project and contacted Wilson for research data. Wilson gave him plenty, including his own thoughts, citations from Scott McCloud, and a PowerPoint presentation. It’s a great story, but you’ll have to visit The Graphic Classroom for the ending.
(via The Comics Reporter)