Comics and graphic novels are colorful, playful, and viewed as fun to read. Creating comics and graphic novels in Wixie can help you engage students in the curriculum and build powerful 21st century literacies.
"It is often the product itself that provides context and motivates students to learn." Gary Stager, Genius of Print
The smaller amount of text in comics, doesn't actually make them easier to read. Comics and graphic novels do generally have less words for students to decode. However, the limited amount of text means that the words used are packed with meaning, and often require skills of inference and transference.
Comics are also a natural medium for combining text with non-linguistic representations. This dual coding helps students remember and recall information and when they are creating comics on their own, they are pushed to choose words carefully, but also have opportunities to support their meaning with pictures.
Wixie makes it easy to design and publish comics
To create comics and graphic novels in Wixie, students simply create and design a new page for each panel they want to include. Text boxes in Wixie can easily be transformed into conversation and thought bubbles and students can use a combination of Wixie's paint tools, backgrounds, and clip art to design illustrations for each page (panel).
When all of the pages are finished, they simply click the send button, choose Print, select Repeat Page, and choose the number of panels you want on one page. For example, choosing Postcards will print four panels on one page (landscape) and choosing Comic Book will print six panels on one page (portrait).
Developing comics and graphic novels in the classroom
Here are some ideas for connecting this pop culture medium to your classroom curriculum.
Use comics for retelling
While retelling helps educators assess student reading comprehension, retelling projects aren't always fun for students. Not only is retelling in comic form fun, but emerging writers can also support their text and ideas with images and illustrations.
The limited amount of text in a comic also forces students to summarize. Research shows that summarizing helps students "learn to analyze the content of the story and evaluate which information is critical to share."
Create comics to share information
Since the 1980 release of Art Spiegelman’s powerful graphic novel about the Holocaust, entitled Maus: A Survivor's Tale, graphic novels have not only become a more respected medium, but have become a powerful force for informational storytelling. Students in Social Studies classes can also create comics to not only share information, but demonstrate how individuals with different backgrounds and social status experience events, helping them develop a deeper understanding of historical perspective.
Comics are perfect for science with its complex interactions and cycles. Students can create comics to share a range of examples of animal adaptation, or show the stages of metamorphosis for the butterfly. Instead of creating a single diagram showing the steps of the water cycle, students could create a series of comic panels to share the information from the perspective of a water molecule as it moves through that cycle.
Design your own superheroes and stories
Many students are attracted to comics because they love superheroes (and even supervillains). Have a discussion with your students about the superheroes they know and why they like them. Be sure to talk about superpowers and the qualities of a hero. Then, ask students to design their own superhero; sharing what the hero looks like and their powers. Wixie includes a Superhero ID Card that helps scaffold student work.
After students design their own superhero, ask them to write the "backstory" explaining where the hero comes from and how the hero obtained their powers. Writing a backstory requires students to practice essential writing traits like ideas, organization, voice, and conventions. If your writers are struggling with ideas, you can even find backstory idea generators online.
Don't forget the techniques of cartooning
Empower your students by teaching them cartooning techniques. I love Adventures in Cartooning: How to Turn Your Doodles Into Comics by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost. This book combines a hilarious story with the techniques cartoonists use to show size, action, and more and is a great way to let students know that creating comics is intentional and involves not only drawing, but lots of thinking.
Whether you choose to use a science topic, retelling, or narrative writing as your focus, creating comics gets students thinking not only about the content they are sharing, but how they can communicate it most effectively in this powerful and enjoyable medium.