Thursday, May 21, 2015

Teaching with Graphic Novels on a Budget



I went to college with a girl who was all about using graphic novels in the classroom. She always did the best evidence-based presentations on this subject in our English education classes and finally convinced me to try them out. The first graphic novel I ever read was Maus, and I absolutely loved it. I immediately attempted to fit it into my curriculum, but due to lack of funding, it never happened. That was in 2009 ish. Ask me how many other times I tried to incorporate graphic novels after that first lame attempt? Zero...............until this year. You see, I finally found one that I could afford a class set of--- which is to say that it was FREE :)

I present to you a much more enjoyable and comprehensible version of "The Pit and the Pendulum": 


Now, we still read sections of Poe's original tale (the really good parts!), but I loved allowing students to read some parts of the graphic novel instead of the short (long) story. "The Pit and the Pendulum" is such a challenging and detailed story that in the past I lost my students before they were ever really able to get into the psychologically thrilling parts. Not only did using a graphic novel help keep students engaged, but we were also able to practice interpreting mood from the pictures and worked on summarizing skills. A huge part of a graphic novel's success is the author's ability to summarize only the essential portions of text while doing the rest of the expression through art. Also, by freeing up some time that would otherwise be used trudging through parts of the story, we were able to do some close readings of the important sections of the original text AND fit in some informational text as well (my students loved reading about John McCain's first-hand account of being a prisoner of war--so interesting!)  With saving time to deeper readings and keeping students engaged, I feel like using this graphic novel was a win, win all the way around. 

You can find all of the graphic novel activities and informational text lessons here: 


Here are some other low cost ways to use graphic novels in the classroom:

* Buy one copy of a graphic novel and use it for.....

 Review-Show certain scenes and have students review what that scene represents.

Literature Centers-  For example, one center can be dissecting important quotes from the original story, another finding literary devices, and another interpreting how a graphic artist fit certain paragraphs into a single drawing with little to no words.

Imagery examples- Sometimes you just want students to SEE something.

Mood Mini Lessons -Art is the best way to teach mood!

Summarizing practice - Read one section of text and show how the graphic novel author summarized it, then have students practice doing the same.

* Consider doing an end-of-the-year book circle with graphic novels only. Finding (or ordering)  limited copies of graphic novels in your school library is easier than buying an entire class set.

I hope that this list inspires you to add a few graphic novel lessons in your classroom. For a great list of classics turn graphic novels, check out this list: Comic and Graphic Novel Adaptations 

xoxo, Mrs. B

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