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  • Comic Teaching: How to Use Comics as Great Teaching Tools

    comic teaching icon
    Digital Printing, Self-publishing

    Is comic teaching effective? Classrooms worldwide use educational tools that engage students and make learning more fun and accessible to all students. One of the exciting teaching tools educators recently have begun to utilize is storytelling through the pages of a comic book that can be used alongside more traditional books and teaching materials.

    But today’s comics are not the silly, mindless, and fun stories you might remember gracing the funny pages in a newspaper of years past. A modern take on visual storytelling in the form of graphic novels and traditional comics can be an asset to student learning, creating new options for teachers willing to try comic teaching.

    Comic Teaching vs. Traditional Teaching Tools

    Educators have implemented novel teaching tools anytime they are created, always wanting to try a new method to reach their students and capture their attention. And plenty of modern engaging educational tools are available for teachers like videos available on platforms like YouTube, educational apps that allow students to use their smart devices as well as printed content that includes QR codes to move the learning to a digital platform. However, holding a book or paper to read and learn about a subject is always the gold standard in education since books and printed content can be accessed at any time without an internet connection or charging a mobile device.

    Comics can be gathered into larger printed books, added to single teaching pages or even transformed into a standalone comic book prepared for a specific theme, topic, or student to use. Students also may view a comic book as less of an educational tool than another traditional classroom lesson, increasing the odds that they will be open-minded about learning new or challenging content through this medium.

    Comic Teaching Encourages Literacy

    With the visual nature of comics, the drawings and visual clues found in these graphic stories can increase literacy in readers of all levels:

    • Emerging readers in pre-kindergarten through the lower levels of primary grades often will increase literacy by learning to associate how a comic portrays the characters’ expressions and actions with new or unfamiliar words. They may not yet be able to read all of the dialogue, but the emerging reader may still be able to comprehend the topic content or relate to the thematic line of the comic while becoming familiar with new vocabulary.
    • English as a second language learners of any age can also benefit from comic teaching because the emotions, expressions, and visuals comics present can be universally understood. In the low-pressure environment of reading a comic, a new language learner can pick up on visual clues to increase their literacy in a familiar way without the pressure of reading a longer passage in a book or story that doesn’t provide visual context clues.

    The Highly Visual Medium of Comic Teaching Offers a Multicultural Platform

    Comic teaching allows educators to present content in a culturally meaningful way. Students can learn about diverse perspectives and explore different cultural identities and traditions to help them appreciate and empathize with a multicultural society.

    Comic Teaching Supports Creativity

    It’s no surprise that comic teaching exposes students and educators to the whole gamut of artistic styles, but this highly visual teaching tool is instrumental in demonstrating other critical skills as well.

    • Using comics in the classroom can teach skills like sequencing and how to harness the power of effective vocabulary. By mimicking the model of a comic panel, students can learn how to put together the steps of a plot that will help them visualize sequences. The targeted dialogue that comics often use shows students how to choose effective word choices to get their meaning across, especially when emotional dialogue or tricky text content is necessary.
    • Comic teaching can encourage creative thinking around storytelling, plot, and character development in students not only writing their own stories but also interpreting stories found in traditional text formats.

    Comic Teaching Can Simplify Complicated Content

    At its core, a comic book is a relatively simple artistic representation of a story combined with dialogue, minimal extra text, and a huge visual impact that uses emotion and fun tricks like onomatopoeias to keep the reader engaged. This simplicity is why it can be the perfect vehicle for complex or deep topics students tend to struggle with in a traditional educational setting.

    • When class requirements include mastery of complicated content like high-level scientific principles, teachers can lay the groundwork with a visual representation of the ideas with comic teaching. Students may be less hesitant when difficult material is initially presented in a non-threatening, easy-to-follow comic.
    • Historical events and their ramifications can also be heavy for students of any age to grasp. So seeing these real-world events play out on the pages of a comic book can let students step into the past and see it through the eyes of a historical figure’s experiences.
    • Teachers often are faced with appropriately introducing tough social issues but using a comic book to show and discuss real issues their students will face in the world can assist in keeping the emotions in check so students can learn.

    When to Use Comic Teaching Strategies

    1 Introduction of Content

    Instructional leaders are always seeking new methods to introduce new content, and using a comic book is an excellent strategy to bring new thematic or conceptual ideas to the classroom. Students will be excited to experience a new style of reading that combines eye-catching visuals and minimal text compared to a traditional textbook or novel, leaving plenty of room for discussion about the unfamiliar concepts found in the comic.

    2 To Generate Discussion or Debate

    Getting students to voice their opinions or ideas about a new or challenging concept can be difficult for even the most seasoned educators. Using a comic to show historical events or other content from different viewpoints can help open students’ eyes to a fresh perspective. Using the comic as a springboard for discussions or letting students debate the content in a comic can be a less threatening setting, allowing teachers to bring students more quickly to their learning objectives.

    Educators can also use comic teaching to help students better analyze a topic and hone their critical thinking skills. Because a comic’s structure boils down a topic to well-chosen dialogue and minimal text comments, students can be encouraged to discuss their views and ideas about the events depicted in the story.

    3 To Reinforce Content or Summarize Knowledge

    Teachers can use comics to bolster already presented content, creating a fun summary or reinforcement of what students have or should have learned in recent classes. A perfect complement to a text-heavy lesson or a difficult thematic concept, a comic book can be used as a review tool that wraps up a challenging unit in a fun yet meaningful way.

    4 To Inspire Student Content

    Aspiring artists, writers, or students facing any creative task can draw inspiration from using a comic book in the classroom. It opens their eyes to a different way to tell a story, new word choices, and shows them how to model concise, orderly storytelling. They may not remember the content of the comic book in your classroom, but they will remember the uniqueness of the teaching tool, and many may use that model in their creative endeavors.

    Not Everyone May Immediately Understand Comic Teaching’s Value

    Traditional teaching tools are familiar to both other educators, administrators, and even parents. But not everyone may immediately see the gold mine that comic books can be in the classroom. Be prepared to support your teaching tool choice with strong examples that show clear student engagement with required classroom objectives so students and those outside of the classroom can get on board with this unique but important teaching tool.

    Get Started Creating Comics for Your Classroom

    Developing a comic book your students will love is easy when you have an experienced printing partner like Dazzle Printing. We can help you transform your classroom content into a gorgeous comic book you can use year after year, increasing student engagement and bringing students a new, exciting teaching tool everyone will enjoy.


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