The week I gave a short presentation to the Adolescent Literacy Network on graphic novels and comics. The ALN is composed (mostly) of literacy consultants and helping teachers from districts all over BC – whoever wants to come (from what I understand). They meet regularly to share what they are doing in their own districts: what’s working well for their teachers and what their teachers are struggling with. They are a lovely bunch of people.
The format for my presentation was very loose and I was a little nervous that I would bore them or seem to be some kind of inexperienced fool. Actually, it was wonderful! They really enjoyed what I had to say and I think we started some conversations that will continue into the future – I made tentative plans to visit some of their districts to continue the conversation and to draw other teachers in to it.
I had decided to present the Persepolis unit on which I have been collaborating with Chris. Mostly, I presented my Vocab ppt to illustrate an entry point to the academic, literary study of comics for students and teachers. It was well received.
I am formulating ideas that teachers who have never read comics or graphic novels should absolutely spend time reading some before approaching planning lessons around them. Some teachers are feeling pressure to encorporate comics into their lessons, especially at the elementary level. To those teachers, I want to suggest starting with smaller scale visual literacy, using classic art works; learn to read the story in the picture.
My strengths are in literature at the secondary level, so that’s what I see/read in the way of comics; like comics that employ the literary devices that we study in secondary grades. I don’t think, though, that I am wrong in thinking that basic visual literacy skills and story-telling devices can be taught seperately at the elementary level. Students need to become comfortable in, or familliar with, expressing their ‘reading’ of a text aloud before they can tackle the more sophicticated literary texts.
I am looking forward to spending more time with the lovely people I met at the ALN.