Non Specific Comic Book Lessons

Lesson: What happens next?
Take any appropriate collected monthly series (Trade paper back). Have the students read one section of the story. Next, either individually or in groups, have students free write what they think will happen next (keeping in mind the tone, characters, setting, a mood of the piece). Explore with the students all of the possible outcomes before having them read the next section of the comic. This is a good way to see if students understand foreshadowing, sequencing of events, and the overall parts that make up a story. As an additional task, teacher may want their students to try and illustrate their predicted works.*Note: a Trade paper back is recommended instead of a monthly series for the reason that you will have the continuation of the story instead of having to wait for the next installment.

-Submitted by Matt WilsonLesson: Are superheroes immortal?
Have students research an iconic superhero such as (Superman or Captain America compared to the likes of Uncle Sam). Their research should be focused on the time period when the character was created and what current events surrounded the people who created these icons. The teacher?s job is to show how reality can take shape and reside even in fiction.

Taking this project one step further, the students can comb through the newspapers and other current event journals. From their research on what effects us now, ask the question do these superhero icons still hold true or do we need to invent new ones? Have the students create their own superheroes that would best handle the problems of our world as they see them. They should be creative not just in their writing but also in how they present their hero to the class (i.e. drawings or maybe even dressing up).

Teachers can use this as a way of practicing research techniques, presentation skills, and critical analysis of cultural changes.

-Submitted by Matt Wilson

Lesson: The voice in comics — how has it changed?
As an exercise in writing dialog, the teacher can take either a comic strip or a few pages from a comic book and remove the dialog from the word balloons. Next, have the students write their own dialog that fits with the panel art. Have the students pair up and read their dialogs to each other (or have them present to the class). Make sure to emphasis that students listen to not only what was said but also how it’s said. After presentations, read to the students the original dialog. One possible outcome would be to explore how one set of pictures can generate so many different stories (based on the dialog). Another possibility would be to have the students note the change in dialog in relation to the time period, in which the original piece was written.

*Note: It is recommended that you find an old print of some of the original comics that came out of the 40’s and the 50’s. The art is more appropriate and the dialog can differ more from our current speech patterns. A good source is to find reprints in trade paperbacks. Also, to have a longer lesson I would use the pages from a comic book over a 3 to 4 panel comic strip.

-Submitted by Matt Wilson

Lesson: Who’s A Hero?
Have the students identify superheroes that they know. Using a spider map of some other form of brainstorming, have the students deconstruct the superhero into the various things that make him/her a hero (this also can be done as a whole class using an overhead projector or the blackboard). Next, have the students identify people that they think are heroes. Again, have the students list the traits that make that person a hero. Compare the two lists using a Venn Diagram (or some other comparable method). Have the students note the similarities and differences. At this point the teacher should turn the focus onto the question: What makes a person a true hero? Having the students use the traits they defined, give them the assignment to write a persuasive paper on a person who the feel is a true hero. The traits that are most important to the student?s idea of a hero, becomes the topic sentence of each supporting paragraph.

Exampe: My dad is a hero because he protects our family. (Topic sentence) followed by the how does he protect the family question.

This project can be taken further then the paper by having the students then give a presentation on the person who the feel is a hero. It is important to encourage creativity.

-Submitted by Matt Wilson

Lesson: An exercise in descriptive writing.
For an exercise in descriptive writing, you can have the students take a page from a comic book and write what they see happening in the panel art. Explain to the students that it is important to describe in detail and not just tell everyone what is happening (he punched a bad guy isn’t acceptable).

As a possible alternative, each student could have a different page (or panel depending on the time you want to spend) that they are required to write up (the other students should not know what their classmates have). Afterward, the pages are all displayed and each student reads their description to the class. The class then needs to decide which page they had to write up.

-Submitted by Matt Wilson

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