Over at my webcomic, Boolean Squared, I have been exploring the antics of a play written by Mr. Teach and performed by his students. The play is a twist on Alice in Wonderland, with a technological bent to it (Boolean is a virus, for example). This particular comic strip story was one of the first Boolean Squared I had done (back when I was using Strip Generator) and it was inspired by a play/musical that I wrote during my Summer Institute with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. The play — called The Note Who Got Lost in the Masterpiece — is not about technology but about music, and I always envisioned doing it with my sixth graders. So far, I have chickened out, in part because of the time needed. But a few years ago, the play won a national competition and was performed by a youth theater group in Amherst and it was an amazing experience to watch the story unfold on the stage.
The comic strip allowed me to make fun of the process of putting on a play with young kids, particularly when the teacher is the writer and an actor is Boolean (he envisions being cloned, with multiple Booleans running rampant around the stage).
Scott McCloud has put out a series of books (Undertstanding Comics, etc.) that have really brought a focus to the conceptual design and creation of comics and graphic novels to a new level. He fearlessly explores the literary aspects of comics and about how the combination of the visual and the word — and the ability to break down any and all walls of traditional storytelling structures.
Here is Scott, giving a great talk at the TED conference. It’s part autobiography, part comic book discussion, with more great insights.
This week’s strand of my webcomic, Boolean Squared, deals with research and projects in the digital age as Boolean tries to figure out why maps are on the classroom walls (when there is Google that he could be using to gather information) and how to best overuse powerpoint for a project presentation.
The last couple of episodes of my webcomic, Boolean Squared, have been all about Funk, Boolean’s new pet. He wanted a dog or a cat, but his mom got him a llama. Funk digs the music of James Brown and loves to dance. Heck, who doesn’t?
I opened up the latest edition of NEA Today magazine to find a two-page article about the use of comics and graphic novels in the classroom. I like how, more and more, these types of articles are appearing in mainstream educational magazines. The article here is layed out as a comic strip, with the character of Super-Teacher (ie, Jeff Miller from Stevensville Middle School in Maryland) showing how comics and graphic novels may help motivate young people into more reading, and thus, sharpening their skills.
The article by Mary Ellen Flannery cites such works as Maus by Art Spiegelman and Two-fisted Science: Stories about Scientists by Jim Ottaviani as good resources. Also, they reference a site that I had not heard of before called No Flying No Tights, which may be worth a visit (leave your flying tights at home, though).
I write reviews for The Graphic Classroom, where Chris Wilson explores and understands the appeal of comics and the power of the visual with writing to connect with students. For myself, I also try to think about how graphic novel formats might make sense for young writers, too. For some of my students, when you add an artistic element to an assignment, it opens them up to creative paths that they might not otherwise venture down.
The article in NEA is not yet available online (they seem to run a month behind) but I hope you got a copy in your mailbox, too.
Peace (in frames of learning),
PS — speaking of comics, my latest Boolean Squared ran and it is poking fun at digital immigrants/natives. See the comic.
Each morning, my class holds a morning meeting called Circle of Power and Respect, which gives everyone a chance to weigh in with some thoughts, take part in a community activity and get the day off on the right footing. (See Responsive Classroom for more ideas on morning meetings) By now, my students are the leaders of the morning and I am just a participant.
The shape of the circle is important because it connects us all. But Boolean and Urth — in touch with their inner geekness — would rather have some other shapes for their meeting with Mr. Teach in my latest webcomic strip of Boolean Squared.
The latest series in my Boolean Squared comics is all about what happens when the geek kids get picked on by the school bullies. They respond in the only way they know … with technology. Come on in and see what Boolean and Urth are up to when they deal with “the bully boys” at their school.