The Comic Book Classroom Connection

In this video I share a lesson idea that I adapted from a session I attended at TESOL 2013 by Molly Kelly. She used the Walking Dead, the TV show and the comic, to help build academic writing, summarization and paraphrasing skills with her students in an IEP (Intensive English Program) at her university.

I took the basic idea that she presented and tweaked it a little bit and I think it presents a nice structure to follow when incorporating comics into your lessons.

Here are the basic steps to follow:

1. Pick a comic that has a connection to some other form of media—whether it’s a comic that is based on a novel, a comic that was turned into a movie, or a comic that was turned into a TV show. It’s important to have this connection because eventually you will compare and contrast the way the story is presented in the two forms of media. You could also do this with a book that was turned into a movie; there are a lot of different combos that you could use!

2. Introduce the comic to the students—set the context, introduce the characters.

3. Pre-teach any relevant vocabulary or idioms that come up in the comic.

4. Give the students an excerpt of the comic to read. The students read it carefully; let them know that they should try and memorize as much as they can in terms of the key points of the story.

5. Give the students the same excerpt, but with all the words removed. The students then work from memory to recreate the dialog on the page. Here’s the catch, though, they have to paraphrase the dialog using their own words. They are basically creating a new dialog, but trying to communicate the same general idea/mood/plot points from the original one.

6. Students then write a formal summary of the comic excerpt (this could also be a review or a more creative type of summary—it’s up to you).

7. Students discuss the excerpt in group: this can be a synthesis; it can be a discussion about what was easy or difficult with the lesson so far; they can retell the story to each other; they can role play the excerpt—there are many options.

8. Students watch the scene from the TV or movie that the comic excerpt relates to, noting similarities and differences.

9. Lastly, have students compare and contrast both forms of media in whatever way you think is best for the students…another essay…another group discussion…

Try it out and have fun!!!

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