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Teaching with Comics

Using comic books in the classroom

Comic books are sometimes dismissed as being juvenile distractions that lack intellectual content. However, recent research proves otherwise. Educational experts have found that using comic books can increase student interest and motivate students to read. One study found that comics can affect students’ attitudes towards and aptitude for curriculum.

There are many reasons to use comics in the classroom, but there are also many ways to use them. Here are a few activity ideas for using comics in the classroom.

1. Use comics as supplemental reading

Comic books are a great alternative to teach or clarify subject matter that students might otherwise have trouble making a connection with. There are comic books and graphic novels for nearly every academic subject. The Graphic Classroom blog has a rather comprehensive list compiled and rated by educators. A parent who homeschools her child published a list for the New York Times.

2. Student-made comics as assessment

A study in the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy found that writing, comprehension and research skills can be fostered when students create their own comics. Assign a comic strip instead of a book report. This is also a perfect opportunity for cooperative learning. Groups can delegate different responsibilities for crafting their comic strip.

3. Use comics with ELL students

The language of comics is universal. A study published in The Reading Teacher found that using comic books as read-alouds can be helpful for English Language Learners who might otherwise feel discouraged.

4. Teach figurative language

Comic books are filled with figurative language like onomatopoeia, idioms, metaphors and allusions. Our video, Wordplay, is a great way to review the different kinds of figurative language. Watch now.


5. Teach elements of storytelling

Comic books and graphic novels have both visual and written plot lines. This makes comic books great for learners that might encounter difficulty analyzing traditionally written stories. Use our video, Five Things, to teach or review the elements of storytelling.

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