Comic Strips to Teach

Using Comic Strips to Teach

Despite the negative press they’ve gotten over the past few decades, comic books and cartoons are actually very effective tools that teachers can use in class. They’re colorful, versatile, and interesting, comic strips can be used for students of various grades, from kindergarten all the way to 9th, even 10th, grade.

An Effective Teaching Tool

The reason behind the efficacy of comic strips as a teaching tool is that it engages students of different learning styles and engaging multiple senses at once. Comic strips help students practice essential skills like reading, understanding visual concepts, understanding context clues, speaking, and ultimately, communicating complex ideas in the span of 3-4 panels. It also evokes thought about provocative issues and can help students understand highly complicated matters in a condensed and succinct form.

Using comic strips can also help young students develop empathy, particularly if the characters in the comic strips are someone they can relate to. In this way, you are teaching them a valuable soft skill that will help them be well-rounded individuals in the future. Depending on the comic strip, it can also make them laugh, helping you ease the tension and stress they may be feeling after being in school for hours.

Again, depending on the comic strip you choose, it can also teach your more mature students about cultural issues surrounding them. Editorial cartoons are a great way to get students thinking; they don’t necessarily have to agree with the image that’s being presented, but they are encouraged to think about the issue and hopefully create logical arguments that will help them make sense of what they’re feeling.

Comic strips are also versatile; they can be used in a wide variety of subjects, ranging from history and literature, to math and science. With the right comic strips, teachers can help students develop their higher-order thinking skills like analysis, evaluation, prediction, inference, and many others.

This multimodal text also helps students gather information from multiple sources; a valuable skill in our post-digital world. This helps them prepare for a digital landscape that is rife with fake information and unresearched data. By teaching them to read comic strips, these students will learn not to take things at face value, but rather delve deeper into a particular thing. It helps them pay attention to detail, and thus, are trained to be aware about the different ways meaning is constructed and communicated.

Comic strips are also a great learning tool for students learning a foreign language. This is because the visual element of it makes it more interesting and easier to process, thereby helping students retain more information about the language they’re learning.

By presenting old information in a new way, you can help students become more engaged and more interested in learning.

comic strips

Integrating Comic Strips in Class

In as much as you, the teacher, can use comic strips to teach, students can also use comic strips to learn. There are various activities that you can moderate that uses comic strips as the main mode of teaching:

Story Telling:

  • Introduce a topic and then task your students to create a 4 to 5 panel comic strip that discusses that issue. Ask your students to create a narrative storyline that is coherent and encourage them to write dialogue that uses natural speech patterns. You can ask them to draw their own panels, or to use resources they find online.

Story Retelling:

  • After making your students read a story, ask them to retell the main plot points of the story using a comic strip. They can draw their own, or, if you want to add a degree of difficulty, ask them to find an example from existing comic strips.

Story Completion:

  • Provide your students with a 4 to 5 pre-designed comic strip panel, but leave the dialogue boxes blank. Then, ask your students to fill in the blanks, making sure to tell a story based only on the other visual elements of the strip. Alternatively, you can also use pre-designed comic strips but with the final panel missing and then ask students to complete the story using inference, prediction, and context clues.

Topic Introduction:

  • Discuss a new topic or issue using a comic strip. The comic strip you choose must reflect the primary idea of your topic without actually revealing it. Ask your students to brainstorm about what they can infer from the comic strip and perhaps try to predict what comes next.

Raise Awareness:

  • Comic strips are a great way to discuss sensitive issues like bullying, sexual misconduct, politics, racism, and other things because it presents these topics in a non-threatening and non-preachy way. Ask your students to emphasize with every character in the comic strip and help them understand the motivation of the characters and the moral implications of their actions.

Teaching Foreign Languages:

  • Comic strips have been shown to be highly effective in teaching foreign languages because it communicates different ideas via multiple mediums. It also gives students a visual image to anchor their lesson on and provides them a clearer mental picture of the contextual situations wherein they can use the phrase or words that you are teaching at the moment.

Practice Speaking Skills

  • Improve your student’s speaking skills by asking them to read aloud a comic strip that you presented or a comic strip that they created, making sure that they are aware of the character’s motivations, speech patterns, and encourage them to give life to the character by adding personality quirks that make sense with context. Alternatively, you can also ask them to continue a comic strip’s story in character in order to flex their inference and communication skills as well as their creativity.

Integrating Comic Strips in Class

Modern and Creative

Many teachers are still hesitant to use comic strips, viewing them as “low brow”. However, there are plenty of comic books and graphic novels out there that are not only visually stunning, they’re also extremely well-written. Educate yourself about the value of comic books and comic strips, and pass on this appreciation to your students.

The Pros of Reading Books and E-Books

On Paper or On Screen? The Pros of Reading Books and E-Books

In the digital age, it seems like anything that can be put on a computer screen will be put into a computer screen, from food delivery and hotels, to taxis and furniture delivery. Over the years, I’ve tried to embrace as much of this technology as I could (for fear of being called a Luddite!), but there was one thing that I only recently started embracing: e-books.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I still love my hardbound collection (even the paperbacks), but e-books have really opened my eyes to the possibilities of technology. But more importantly, it’s also shown me how this technology can inspire the younger generation to read more.

Reading is a fundamental skill most people should know. Unfortunately, the global literacy rate is 86.3 percent which means that a few hundred million people cannot read regardless of the type of literature they are presented with. And in this age where physical books may still be inaccessible to kids learning to read at a young age and even older adults, e-books may be the solution.

ebook vs book static image

I can hear the purists now though, “e-books aren’t real books! Nothing beats paper!” And believe me, I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but trust me, there’s a lot of benefits to e-books. Which isn’t to say that traditional books aren’t great too, they are; it’s just that e-books are not the hardcover killers that people make them out to be. In fact, if done right, e-books can help students appreciate traditional books more.

While browsing the bookstore to buy a gift for that special someone (or yourself), you may be faced with a tough decision: e-books or the old-fashioned kind? The pros and cons of ebooks vary, and choosing the best option depends on a number of factors.

Convenience

For a bibliophile like myself, there’s nothing more impressive than seeing a room with floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall bookshelves filled with all manner of books. But the problem with that setup? I can’t bring all of those books in my backpack!

books

With e-books, you can fit entire libraries into a single electronic reader. If not a NOOK eReader or any tablet that can read e-books, most smartphones nowadays have apps automatically installed to read e-books. And if it doesn’t, there are many free apps you can download. This makes it convenient when you want to take a break from reading Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and want to continue your reading of Hegel’s Dialectics.

Sustainability

I love the smell of books: the ink, the paper, oh that wonderful smell of paper! Unfortunately, because of society’s mass consumerism and unchecked industry, our forests are being destroyed at a rate that is not only alarming, it’s catastrophic. Aside from the fact that mass book production means tapping into virgin forests to make paper, the process of making books consumes 153 billion gallons of water every year. And that’s not even including the chemicals and organic and inorganic matter released into the oceans and the air because of book production.

While there are few things in life that make me as happy as that new book smell, I need to be practical. E-books are digital, which means there’s no environmental impact in their creation. Yes, the digital readers require resources like rare earth materials and alloys and such, but they are, in the long, more sustainable than buying paper books day in and day out. While the written word on paper is magical, we also need to be practical. Besides, a real reader will find that magic anywhere, whether it’s on a standard 6”x9” sheet or on an electronic screen.

water consumption for book production

The Kids Are Already On It

In 2014, the Library & Information Science Research, a journal dedicated to all things books, conducted a study that focused on more than a hundred 10th graders and their reading habits. They found that an overwhelming majority of these kids preferred e-books over traditional books.

This is an example of technology helping kids to read: newer generations of students are more comfortable with electronic devices, so reading an e-book is more than just preferable, it’s actually interesting for them.

It also helps that most e-book readers also have options to adjust the font size, offer on-screen explanation of difficult words, increasing the brightness, etc. all of which make them more accessible to kids.

So the next time you feel the urge to scold a child for spending too much time on their computer or tablet, bear in mind that they’re probably just reading a book!

E-books help the visually impaired

Children with dyslexia are often turned off by the idea of reading. Unfortunately, because of their condition, dyslexic children are lacking in terms of reading skills and thus have a harder time progressing with their education. However, scientists are discovering that e-book readers might just be a solution to that problem.

e-books

A component of dyslexia is its inefficiency of processing visual information. Because traditional books are static, dyslexics have to struggle with understanding every sentence. However, e-book readers give them an option to increase the text size. This might not seem like much, but for dyslexics, it’s a godsend: studies show that it helps them read more efficiently, and has in fact made it easier for some. This is because larger text sizes mean shorter lines of text, which helps them process information more effectively, and ultimately, making book reading an accessible and enjoyable activity.

E-books Can Provide a More Immersive Experience

I’m not talking about the immersive experience you get when you get so enthralled by a book that you forget you’re sitting in a coffee shop and are suddenly a person inside your book’s universe. I’m talking about the immersive experience of actually hearing and seeing the book come to life.

E-books and audiobooks are on the same wave and can be used for a better reading experience. I’m the type of person who wants to see things or else I get distracted, so I’ve never really been a fan of listening to audiobooks on their own. But I’ve also heard a few audiobooks and how some books hire voice actors to really make the story believable.

books with headphone, metaphor for audio books

Some e-books come with audio files to help improve your reading experience. Unfortunately, not all e-book formats provide this. But if you want this experience, your best bet is to get a Kindle, Nook, or Google Nexus 9. It can make all the difference if you want to hear what the dialogue sounds like (and maybe a guide on how to pronounce those alien names like a true book fan).

But before you start thinking I’m some kind of e-book zealot, let me remind you why I still love traditional books…

People Retain More Information from Paper

Scientists from around the world are finding evidence that reading on paper might actually be much better for retaining data as well as remaining focused. Researchers from Norway’s Stavanger University conducted small-scale studies that tested people’s ability to remember key plot points of stories when read from either a traditional book or an e-book. They found that readers who were using a Kindle scored higher in memory tests as opposed to those reading from paper.

They believe that the tactile sense of paper is what gives it an edge in terms of retaining information: because the book’s weight shifts from right to left as you progress, the brain is more engaged and focused on processing all this data at once, helping it retain as much information as possible. Feeling the weight of the book shift dynamically while you’re reading the story makes it easier for your brain to visualize plot points and other story details.

I told you books were magic!

Traditional Books Help with Eye Strain

One of the biggest drawbacks of e-books is its screen luminance. Even e-book readers that have low-light screens are still emitting artificial light, which interferes with a person’s ability to sleep and putting strain on their eyes. Reading from an e-book reader at night can also impair your body’s production of melatonin.

traditional book

Traditional books don’t have that problem. When reading from a traditional book under good lighting, your eyes relax over time and do not interfere with your body’s sleep cycle. Any reader who’s ever fallen asleep reading a book will attest to this!

In my opinion, one type of book isn’t better than the other: they both have their pros and cons, and at the end of the day, it’s all about preference. If you prefer the smell of books and the thrill of manually turning every page as you make progress with a book, there’s no reason to go digital if you don’t want to. And if you prefer the convenience, ease, and unlimited options you have while using your Kindle, then you can save up on a ton of shelf space and never have to buy another book again. You’ll actually be doing the environment a favor, too!

As for me, well, I like my Kindle; I take it everywhere I go, but that doesn’t mean I’m getting rid of my physical library any time soon!

Kid with special needs being hugged

Amazing Back-to-School Tips for Children with Special Needs

A new school means a set of new teachers, new grade, and maybe even a new school for your child. That’s why it’s best to find ways to help them be as successful as they can be. Back-to-school time can be busy, and it can get twice as much when you have a child with special needs. Before you find a special needs school in Bali, here are a few things that you can consider:

Give them an idea of how it will go

You can start your child’s summer days early and give them something they can look forward to this coming school year. One suggestion that care.com provides is to tell them you’ll go some place else right after breakfast. If you’re going to be home after the day ends, it’s best to tell them how their day will look. You can finish it with an art project or even with a game.

Connect personally with the teacher

It’s best to introduce yourself to your child’s teacher as well as the therapists. Get to know them better and connect with them. You can set up a time to come to their school and meet up with your child’s staff. You can also provide them with a few information about your child’s strengths and challenges. Very Well Family also suggests to let everyone know that you’re willing to talk and consider options that are best for your child.

Connect school with the word fun

Little girl in the playgroundTry to visit the school as often as you can. You can also do regular weekend visits to the playground to help your child familiarize themselves with their new environment. As soon as the school year approaches, it’s best to call ahead and see if you can schedule a meeting with the principal as well as the teacher.

Create a checklist

As much as you would like to monitor your child’s development, you will probably be hearing about their progress only when their report card comes. The easiest way to address this problem is to provide your child’s teacher with a checklist that they can answer every day. It should only be a quick yes or no question that the teacher or aid can easily answer before your child gets home.

Ease their anxiety

If it’s challenging for your child to adjust to their new environment, it’s best to have them familiarize with the faces that they will meet at school. If the staff agrees, you can take photos of the principals, teachers, aids and nurses, the cafeteria, and the gym. You can show it to your child before school starts to give them a sense of reassurance.

Starting a school year at a different school can be a challenge. That’s why it’s best to show them your support especially while they’re adjusting. You can ask them how their day went and made them feel that everything is okay. Have an open and constant communication with the school staff so you will be aware of your child’s progress.