A Public Service Announcement! ;)
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
It's very thorough and hits all the main points about fiction, nonfiction, curriculum, choice, etc. and how boys respond to them.
Among the points is this gem:
"'Nontraditional materials such as comic books and sports-themed materials can provide an important “hook” to get boys more involved in reading,' [William]Pollack [of Harvard Medical School] says, 'and serve as a helpful bridge to more advanced types of reading later on.'"
So, we get a little but of pro-comics stance. In the next paragraph, though, we get:
"If there are kids out there who are, for whatever reason, really reluctant readers or low-level readers, then anything that gets them hooked into spending time on reading is a good thing,” [Catherine]Snow [of Harvard Graduate School of Education] says. “But the problem is that whereas those can be great places to start, they don’t get you where you need to be to succeed academically. You’ve got to be able to access serious academic texts.”
I'm not sure if Snow is referring directly to comics, since Pollack was the one who mentioned them. If so, we've got another example of folks not realizing that some comics are very sophisticated texts, but I think this might be an example of the writer of the article merging concepts for story flow rather than a blanket statement from Snow, especially since we're talking about two different people's statements here.
But, if a representative from Harvard is acknowledging comics' role in facilitating literacy, I ain't gonna complain.
Monday, August 30, 2010
And there's the rub.
I'm happy that NCTE made the move as a political statement, but in my mind, we (I'm a member, though I did not try to influence the move away from Phoenix) only went halfway.
If we really wanted to honor our ideas about diversity and stick it to policy-makers who might be targeting Hispanics in burdening ways, why not hold the convention in one of our border cities?
El Paso, Loredo, McAllen, Del Rio, Brownsville -- I'm sure those cities would love the economic boost.
Plus, we'd get to see just how progressive and active is the virtue of the membership. It's one thing to move a convention from county and state lines, it is another thing to show support by bringing yourself to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Honestly, it is probably true none of the cities mentioned above are large enough to accommodate NCTE. San Diego is probably the best choice for a border city that could host the conference.
Still, it'd be pretty neat to see how many folks from the Midwest or South or Northeast would put in proposals for the chance to stay at a hotel overlooking Juarez.
Heck, El Paso had trouble getting Oklahomans to feel comfortable coming to the Sun Bowl to see OU play Stanford this year, and that was for a something really important: a football game! ;)
I'm probably being unfair, but while NCTE most likely did the right thing, I can't help but think it could have been much bolder in its reaction, and why it wasn't or couldn't be might be worth thinking about.
It might not.
It could just be that as someone who lives in remote El Paso, it'd be nice to be able to drive to one of these things without leaving my home city one of these days!!! :)
Regardless of initial use or intended audience, the anthology does not disappoint. There's enough evidence for comics and learning coexisting to help the cause, though one wonders how much success the text might have reaching beyond "the choir," a problem all of us in comics-and-literacy face, and enough fun for anyone.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Sounds silly, and it is.
Dean Trippe has written the senator a letter explaining a bit about comics' and literacy's connections. (See link embedded in this post's title, which also reprints the mailer, hilariously featuring one child reading not a comic, but Previews. That reader is obviously reconsidering her pull list).
What's worse, Maryland is the home of the Maryland Comic Book Initiative, one of the highest-profile, public integrations of comics into public schools ever.
What's that the kids say about trying so hard you actually miss the forest for the trees? Oh yeah, "EPIC FAIL."
Of course, if the general public is still oblivious to the advantages of comics in the classroom, or at least in the hands of children, I guess it doesn't really matter:
If a kid in a forest reads a comic and learns a new word, and there's no one around to hear him learn, does anyone give a damn?
The title to this post is a link to more information on the fair from Graphic Novel Reporter, which itself promises to release more details as they come available.
What I do know is that I'm scheduled to appear on November 18:
Featured Speakers for Thursday:
Prof William Ayers, To Teach: The Journey, in Comics ;Chris Schweizer, Crogan’s Vengeance and Crogan’s March; Professor James “Bucky” Carter, NCTE board member and author;
Professor Adam Johnson, Stanford University’s Graphic Novel Project
Yep, November will be a busy month for the Buckster. I leave Miami to go directly to Orlando to talk about graphic novels at NCTE, and I have at least 3 projects set to debut in the month of Thanksgiving. Maybe I'll see you in Florida in 2010!!
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Super-Powered Word Study includes fifteen weeks’ worth of stimulating study and creative activities that ask students to think about language, consider word formation, and create their own stories—all in just twenty minutes a day! Each week introduces two word parts students interact with through riddle cards, word study notebooks, word sorts, word hunts, and practice assessments they create for their peers. Word sort lists, comics, writing assessment prompts, and optional extension activities offer endless opportunities for creative writing and language exploration. A comics primer and a DVD with all of the comics stories, riddle cards, word study notebook pages, sample comics scripts, and comics templates give teachers the support they need to build vocabulary knowledge and encourage students’ imaginations to run wild. The DVD also supports each of the fifteen lessons with interactive eCard word sorts, eComics with clickable clues, and opportunities for students to create their own comics and assessments.
Make your word study super-powered!
Monday, August 23, 2010
Edited by Robert G. Weiner and Carrye Syma of Texas Tech University Library
In recent years the use of graphic novels, comics, and sequential art in education has exploded. This is due not only to the boom in superhero movies that are based on comic book characters, but also to the wide literary range that graphic novels now have. There are now literally hundreds of college and university courses all over the world that are using graphic novels in their curriculum. The days when comics were just seen as children’s trash, with no redeeming literary or educational value, are hopefully behind us.
Contrary to the idea that comics “dumb” down material, it takes both sides of the brain to read and interpret sequential art stories: the right side to interpret the pictures and the left side to understand the narrative text. Our goal with this collection is to provide the educator and scholar with a collection of essays that show how graphic novels and comics are being used in the classroom today, as well as some historical pieces that detail how the educational fields often have and have had a “rocky” relationship with the use of comics in educational settings. We want both theoretical and practical essays showing how sequential art can be and is being used to teach and illustrate concepts and ideas.
We are especially keen on pieces related to higher education, military and government uses of comics to educate, but all aspects of comics and education are under consideration. In addition, we would like to have educators from a wide spectrum of the educational fields from K-12, to undergraduate and graduate educational levels. Those using sequential art in adult education and pre-school are encouraged.
Some possible questions/ideas that could be addressed include:
The Military’s use of comics to teach.
Graphic Novels and comics in library science education.
How relationships can be understood through the use of graphic novels in human science education.
Teaching mathematical concepts using graphic narrative.
Grade school use of comics.
Middle school use of comics.
High school use of sequential art (say something like Maus to teach the Holocaust).
Comics and Film to teach about blockbuster cinema.
Philosophical issues raised by graphic novels (The Watchmen in a philosophy class about ethics).
Biological and scientific concepts using graphic novels.
The use of mainstream superhero stories in the classroom.
Superman, Batman, Spider-Man to further understand the concept of the hero Mythology (i.e., Odysseys, Hercules etc.).
Graphic Novels and history, how effective a tool is the graphic novel in teaching a historical concept?
Sequential art in teaching foreign language or English as a second language.
Comics in literacy and adult education programs.
Graduate courses using graphic novels.
The History of sequential art in education.
Medical education using comics
Please send 200 word abstracts by January 15th 2011 to Rob Weiner Rob.firstname.lastname@example.orgFinal papers will be due February 28th 2011. No exceptions.
Please note the submission of an essay does NOT necessarily mean publication in the volume.
Essays will be going through a rigorous peer review process and we have asked a number of scholars to serve in this capacity. We are striving to put together as an excellent collection with diverse viewpoints covering all aspects of comics and education. Authors are also expected to follow the editor’s style guide and be willing to have their work edited.
Carry Syma, Texas Tech University Library
Rob Weiner ,Texas Tech University Library
Also, remember the Spidey collection for which Dr. Weiner is currently seeking submissions!
Jeremy Short's students at Texas Tech's business school read and discuss Atlas Black: Managing to Succeed as a means of learning business basics. The text was written by folks at Portland State and Auburn, along with Short. A professor at the University of Vermont uses these texts as well. The University of South Carolina's Thomas Moliterno does too.
I'm not sure if these Atlas books are comic books or graphic novels. They're called graphic novels in the article but seem to have the shape and feel of the pamphlet-style comic books you'd see on news stands.
As well, there seems to be some lack of knowledge from the writer and his or her sources regarding the differences. Certainly the comments on Inside Higher Ed's public response area suggest a "dumbing down" is taking place rather than a simple reconstruction and presentation of the data.
It's also interesting that there is a sense that there is consensus among academics outside of education, particularly in business schools, it seems, that graphic novels are only written for entertainment. Woo that Maus, it was riot, wasn't it? That exploding giraffe head in Pride of Baghdad? Had me laughing for days. (Warning: Watch for dripping sarcasm).
I think what this suggests is the schism between what academics think constitutes "worth" and what education academics know works regarding teaching. Isn't is just a little strange and bassackwards that people responsible for teaching content material don't seem to know about how their students learn best? What's more, they get to be the authorities on what constitutes excellence in their given fields.
Makes you want to read one of the comic books that really is just for entertainment, doesn't it? Just to escape the ironic ignorance!
At least there are some folks that are exploring this form's pedagogical potentials is classrooms outside the ELA one. Graphic novels and comics are wonderfully interdisciplinary, afterall.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
Alexander Simmons Pushes for Literacy/Creativity through Comics, Could Use a Hand to Expand to AFRICA!!!
NYC-BASED KIDS COMIC CON INVITED TO SENEGAL, AFRICA FINANCIAL SUPER-HEROES NEEDED
If you found out about a great program that has helped kids in three regions of the U.S. expand their literacy and self-esteem, would you help it keep growing? For almost five years now, Alex Simmons and his Kids Comics Con have brought kid-friendly comics and their creators together with New York City kids who otherwise might never see them. Doing so has encouraged a love of reading, improved literacy, and, most importantly, given kids license to imagine, to think, and to create.
After four years of growing success, Simmons was asked in 2009 to take his KCC show on the road, and that’s what he did, bringing the “KCC Road Show” to the snowy hills of Buffalo, New York and blazing beaches of Miami, Florida. Both events were great successes.
Now the Kids Comic Con has been asked to bring the KCC Road Show to over 700 students, their families and the community of the Senegalese American Bilingual School in Senegal, Africa on December 1st, 2010. The American Cultural Center in Senegal wants to send him to additional cities there, potentially expanding the impact this project could have.
Simmons wants to deliver to Africa what he’s done for American kids, but he has been forced to confront the Dr. Doom of today’s economy: financing. To make this positive experience happen, Simmons has setup an online fundraiser on a web site called Kickstarter.com. Simmons reports this project will be funded, but only if he and his team can raise at least $19,616 by 11 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 16. “Like one of those comic book death traps of old, the clock is ticking, and the rope holding the deadly blade above this project’s head is starting to fray,” Simmons said.
So the Kids Comic Con is calling all financial super-heroes to assemble, ride to the rescue, swing in at the nick of time, and otherwise save the day by helping to fund a worthwhile international exchange of ideas.
To make a pledge go to the KCC web site at: http://www.kidscomiccon.com/, and click on the Kickstarter link on their home page. Or go to http://www.kickstarter.com/ and type “Kids color” in the SEARCH PROJECTS box. You can also find links on the Kids’ Comic Con Facebook Page.
And for additional information please contact Alex Simmons at: Alex@KidsComicCon.com.
Alexander Simmons, who you may know from his great work on Archie comics, has been promoting literacy and creativity through comics for several years now and is one of the true good guys in the biz. If you can offer some support, please do. I know I will!
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Just too awesome not to share....(Possibly not safe for work). Um... how to tie this to comics and literacy? Here's a video of the singer's object of admiration saying he learned to read and write from reading comics!
Sunday, August 15, 2010
The work with Daken, Wolverine's son, and the sons of Hulk, has been amazing. And, in keeping with my uncanny sense of connection with Marvel, developed right as I was becoming a dad for the second time. So, I appreciate seeing James "Logan" Howlett struggle with a child who is making his same mistakes. I appreciate seeing characters like Hulk trying to break cycles deeply embedded.
See Incredible Hulk #611 for an example of that latter stated case. Greg Pak can straight-up write, and while I have not been a fan of the goofy multi-Hulks story lines going on recently, he's wrapping things up nicely.
Incredible Hulk 611 made me cry for several reasons and has my vote for best single issue of a superhero comic for 201.
Imagine, all these years we've seen the Hulk as a rampager, when it's possible that all along it took an entity as strong as the Hulk to protect the world from the wrath of Banner's pent up rage stemming from the abuse he witnessed and suffered as a child. Awesome stuff. Then have Hulk/Banner as father approached by a son bent on making him angry? Woah. And when child Skaar embraces his dad, finally knowing what he represents, illustrating that when we hate our fathers it's often because we don't know how to express our simultaneous love for them or have it validated, and also showing superhuman levels of forgiveness that can only come from children.....
Well, read the issue and tell me if you aren't moved, rattled, and shaken and struck, like one might expect to be if one found him/herself in a Hulk book, but in a totally different way.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Featured: Polly "Popular" Lopez; Trans-Phat; the Communicator; Green Tonya: She-Student with a Sword, and the Vegetarian.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
That being said, it's a good read. I hate that it ends so abruptly. The last encounter with the white whale and its results are too compressed for my taste, especially given the decent pacing of the story up to that point, but Ishmael's character is well-developed, as are Queequeg, Starbuck and Ahab. The art fits the story perfectly, especially the rough lines and hoary hatchings from artist Lalit Kumar Sing, who gives the rough-and-tumble seamen just the right look.
I'm not sure if Moby Dick gets much attention at the secondary level anymore. Even there, my guess is several hundred pages are removed or ignored. But, if a teacher does use Moby Dick, this text would be an excellent accompaniment. As with all the Campfire books, it's not just an adaptation. There is information about Herman Melville's life and some very interesting illustrated information about whaling, whale ships, and Mocha Dick, the real-life whale that inspired the story.
Though its compression flaws towards its wrap-up dissatisfied me, I was impressed with this effort overall.
It's easy to adulterate an Alice story, especially given some folks' thoughts in its writer's closeness with little girls and the camera, but this adaptation hits all the right notes. It is so good, in fact, that it is one adaptation that I wouldn't mind giving to reluctant readers or struggling readers in place of the original, and that is not usually a tactic for which I advocate. Pairing and braiding is better, almost always, in my opinion, but that I can praise this text with such an aberrant stance should be read as faith in it as an engaging, witty, and close approximation of the best that the original has to offer.
While I am usually resistant to recommend adaptations, I can wholeheartedly recommend Campfire's Alice in Wonderland.
It's already getting some big press, and teachers are responding. Here's an editorial by Dan Brown, a teacher at one of the schools profiled in the film, for example (thanks, MH!). Here's a review from EW.Com. Here's a review from Politics Daily. It reveals the inspiration behind the film's title:
The Superman in the title comes from a quote early in the film by Geoffrey Canada, founder of Harlem Children's Zone, who remembers his disappointment as a child and comic book fan to learn that there is no superhero in our culture that can fly into a crisis and set injustice right. But Mr. Canada proves there are still heroes. The engaging, charismatic teacher's vision to end the cycle of poverty serves 17,000 New York City children in Harlem's 100-block area.
Looks like 2010 is going to be an interesting year in education. And how very,very interesting to see a comics mythos thrown into the mix. Will this bode well for comics-and-literacy advocates or foster some sort of backlash? Or will the Superman reference go noted but largely unexplored?
MAKEBELEIEFS COMIX LAUNCHES FREE SUMMER FUN FACEBOOK FEATURE FOR ESL, LITERACY STUDENTS; THEY’LL CREATE COMICS ON NEW THEMES EACH WEEK, AND SOME WILL BE POSTED ON OUR FACEBOOK WALL
Dear friend of MakeBeliefsComix,
I’m excited to let you know about some of the new things available on MakeBeliefsComix.com, the online comic strip generator used in literacy programs.
MakeBeliefsComix.com each week is posting a new theme or topic for students to create a comic strip with our comic strip generator and submit to us. After reviewing all submissions, we’ll select a sample to post on our Facebook wall.
'The theme for [the first week of August was]: ‘’You and Your Friend Share Happy or Funny Memories.’’
Our educational online comic strip site also has added another feature that enables users to post their comic strips on their very own Facebook walls.
Those who create a comic strip and send it to themselves will receive an email with two links: one to view and print the comic, and the other allowing them to post the comic to their Facebook wall to share with friends and family.
Posting or publishing these comic strip creations in a public arena helps validate all the effort a youngster puts into creating the comic.
Since MakeBeliefsComix.com was launched four years ago, over 2 million people from 175 countries have visited our free educational resource.
Google and UNESCO named us as among the world's most innovative web sites that encourage reading and literacy and we won the Parents' Choice Foundation’s Recommended Award.
This year the American Library Association selected MakeBeliefsComix for its annual ‘’Great Web Sites for Kids ’’ listing.
The site offers 80 different characters, blank talk and thought balloons to be filled in with text, story prompts and printables, and accepts text in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Latin.
Our site is used by educators to teach language, reading and writing skills in an easy, fun way. It also is used by students in English as a Second Language programs to facilitate self-expression and storytelling, as well as to gain computer literacy.
Some educational therapists use the online comics for children with autism or for those who are deaf to help them understand concepts and communicate. Parents and children also can create stories together, print them to create comic books or email them to friends. There also are printables and writing prompts on the site.
Please try the new summer fun feature with your students and children! We want to be the best educational web site we can be for you. We hope you will share what we are doing with your colleagues, your family, and friends.
Bill really is doing some great work, so I hope you'll consider checking out his site.
As well, later this month his new interactive comic book for boys, Your Life in Comics: 100 Things for Guys to Write and Draw, will be issued by Free Spirit Publishing. Readers will be able to help create the book by filling in talk and thought balloons for different situations, as well as creating their own comic strips within the book.
Interactive comics assisting literacy, creative writing, and composition! Gotta love it!!!
Monday, August 09, 2010
Friday, August 06, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
A nautical adventure beset with magic, mystery, pirates, puzzles, and mythology, the text is exquisitely colored and drawn in a style reminiscent of the Tin Tin adventures but with a contemporary, harder edge.
Pudgy protagonist Walker Bean, innovative, clever, endearing and driven, is instantly relatable and lovable as the youngster who seeks to save his sick grandfather while battling his dad's disinterest, among many other fantastical foes.
The friends he makes along the way are well-developed characters, and the story has a well-paced build. While this text doesn't end, except to mention the upcoming book 2, it does wrap up nicely and does not leave one with a sense of being tricked out of a complete narrative experience.
While I don't mean to degrade this wonderful book when I suggest that so far 2010 hasn't been as impressive a year for graphic novels as 2009 was, The Unsinkable Walker Bean has definitely made my list of the year's best graphic novels.