Yesterday, I reviewed a comic strip collection from David Lee Finkle called Mr. Fitz, which makes fun of teaching and standardized testing and being with middle school kids all day. So, yeah, it was right up my alley. David Finkle presented in one of the NCTE Ignite sessions in Las Vegas, using comics as his presentation. I love his David explores with his students what we mean about “writing” and “reading.”
David’s key inquiry to explore with students: When Do Stories Matter?
There’s a whole series of comic strips in this book in which David Lee Finkle, himself a teacher, envisions famous writers in history getting feedback on a standardized test, with Finkle using humorous anecdotes and famous phrases from each author as the punchline. It had me cracking up early, and often, even if it was a sort of literature-junky inside-joke kind of thing. That’s OK. In fact, this entire collection of comic strips from Finkle — Mr. Fitz vs. the Test Score Zombies — is aimed right at teachers who are struggling to keep their students engaged in the age of standardized testing.
Mr. Fitz is the lead character, a teacher in middle school with a crop of oddball students. There’s no main storyline here, except the ways in which Mr. Fitz motivates his students to be passionate about reading and writing, and the ways that his teaching style often runs into administrative roadblocks. (In one series of sketches, an educational consultant arrives to give “advice” but refuses to enter a classroom with real students.)
(from Finkle’s website)
I like that there is also a fair number of strips in which students are completely immersed in a book. Finkle really captures the intense attention that a good book can provide.
(from Finkle’s website)
While I personally still love a comic called Mr. Lowe (by Mark Pett, but the comic is now out of print) because it dealt with a new teacher in a challenging classroom, Mr. Fitz shows the veteran teaching trying to make sense of the changing landscape shaped more by the leaders at the top than the students in the classroom. Finkle captures those difficulties nicely, and puts it all in perspective.
Today marks the last official day of Digital Writing Month, which has been quite an adventure. I’ll reflect more this weekend when I have time about the ways I tried to push some boundaries and take part in the activities, and what I think of it all. This morning, on the last day of the sharing, I have another meta-comic called Worlds Within Worlds. It echoes one I did earlier in the month, with ideas folded into ideas. But I think it captures a question that I often wonder about: how writing and ideas can take root in digital spaces, and remain there, in ways that are different from non-digital writing.
Thanks for visiting during the month. I hope you tried out a few new things here and there, too.
This has been me this week, as our Internet has been down for three days. I’m writing now in a cafe during a pitstop to a conference, and while I am enjoying the downtime (and yes, we are doing plenty of reading), my ideas keep on needing a place to sit.
We’re nearing the end of the Twitter Vs. Zombies virtual game that has been unfolding all weekend. I’m a little tired of being a zombie, to be honest, so I am sharing out the last two comics that I created as part of Digital Writing Month. Tomorrow, I am back to a regular ol’ human being with a regular appetite, and fairly normal tweets (although that is a judgement call on the part of my followers, who must be wondering what the heck is up with all the zombified tweets this weekend)