Professional Resources for Using Comics and Graphic Novels

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On Monday I led a workshop for teachers on teaching with comics that included tips and project ideas, lesson plans, printables, free online comics, and free comic creation tools.  In Wednesday’s blog post I shared the online resources I’ve compiled for using comics in the classroom, but I didn’t share any print books.  Here are some professional resources to consider if you want to learn more about using comics in the classroom:

teaching early reader comicsTeaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels
by Katie Monnin
For teachers who want to use comics with elementary learners, this resource provides standards, lesson ideas, and reproducibles for students in Kindergarten up through 6th grade.  Each section includes sample lessons and a bibliography of comics and graphic novels to use with students.  Here’s an interview with the author from the Cynsations blog in which she talks about media literacy, teaching with graphic novels, and the companion book to this one for older students titled Teaching Graphic Novels: Practical Strategies for the Secondary ELA Classroom.

using graphic novels in the classroomUsing Graphic Novels in the Classroom Grd 4-8
by Melissa Hart
This book can be used with upper elementary and middle school students to help them analyze the graphic novel format and use that understanding to write and draw their own comics.  Standards-based lessons are supplemented with graphic organizers and reproducibles.

using graphic textsUsing Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning: A Guide for Middle-Level Educators
by Meryl Jaffe
This is a resource to use with upper elementary and middle-grade students with a focus on using graphic novels as texts to convey content information.  The book includes separate chapters for Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies that include standards-based lesson ideas and bibliographies of recommended titles.  Here are some online articles written by the author.

comic strip mathComic-Strip Math: Problem Solving: 80 Reproducible Cartoons With Dozens and Dozens of Story Problems That Motivate Students and Build Essential Math Skills
by Dan Greenberg
Teachers of grades 3-6 who want to add a spark to their math lessons will want to consider this book, which introduces word problems with a silly comic strip that puts the math into context for the students.  Don’t limit yourself to the reproducible pages here; use this as a springboard for your students to create their own comics and story problems!

using comic artUsing Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing
by Steve Bowkett
This book can be used in all classrooms to help students understand the writing and speaking process through what they know about comics and graphic novels, and to help them understand the concept of making pictures in their minds as they read text.  It explains how comics offer the perfect condensed version of a story to illustrate writing conventions such as a strong opening and closing, a problem and a solution, creating suspense with pacing, etc.  It also includes a section on non-fiction writing and a bibliography.

teaching visual literacyTeaching Visual Literacy: Using Comic Books, Graphic Novels, Anime, Cartoons, and More to Develop Comprehension and Thinking Skills
by Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher
The focus of this book is on visual and media literacy, and explains how graphic novels and cartoons can spark thought-provoking discussions and lessons.  It includes a chapter on political cartoons – which can be used in social studies classes- as well as chapters on picture books and films.  These are not lesson plans, but rather essays and articles presenting background information, research findings, and advice for including visual literacy in the curriculum.  The authors share additional resources at their website, Literacy for Life.

And here is my collection of online resources:

Do you have a resource to recommend?  Please share it in the comments!


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WWW – Comics in the Classroom with Symbaloo

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By request I am bringing back the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) this year! This means that each Wednesday I will send out a school-wide email with a recommended website that you might find useful in your classroom.

symbaloo comics webmix

This week’s WWW is Comics in the Classroom
Hosted by Symbaloo

This week you are getting a two-fer!

Symbaloo is an ancient Greek verb meaning ‘gathering’ or ‘assembling’ and perfectly reflects the mission of the company: to allow users to gather various websites into one central location. It’s simple to create a “webmix” (their term for a grid of links) by simply copying and pasting the desired URL into Symbaloo.

You can create as many separate webmixes as you want, and you can set each one to either be Public or Private. Some teachers use it to organize their own resources; others use it to share sites with students.

Basic accounts are free, but a paid premium version is available. Symbaloo also offers an Education version. From the site: “SymbalooEDU accounts come with preset educational webmixes pre-installed that are continuously updated with the latest and greatest educational sites recommended by our Symbaloo Certified educators.”

As you can see from the screenshot at the top of this email, I used Symbaloo to gather all my comic resources onto one page. Even if you missed the Comics in the Classroom workshop on Monday, I hope you will take time to explore these links. There are ideas here for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade.  You’ll find:

  • articles, tips, and lesson plans for teaching with comics (green squares)
  • free printables (purple squares)
  • blogs devoted to selecting comics and graphic novels for kids (white square)
  • free online general comic creation tools (blue squares)
  • free online topic-specific comic creation tools (orange squares)
  • free online comics (pink squares)
  • anti-bullying unit for students (yellow squares)

The two Promethean flipcharts I used in the workshop are Teaching With Comics and Understanding How Comics Tell a Story.  If you have ActivInspire installed on your computer, you can download these flipcharts for your own use.


p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at Netvibes, along with all of the previous WWW websites.
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WWW – Learn 360

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By request I am bringing back the WWW (Weekly Wednesday Website) this year!  This means that each Wednesday I will send out a school-wide email with a recommended website that you might find useful in your classroom.

learn-360 logo

This week’s WWW is Learn 360

Everyone is feeling the loss of United Streaming this year, so I’m happy to announce that our replacement streaming video service, Learn 360, is up and running!

The screenshots below will walk you through setting up your account:

Click on the tab for NEW USERS and enter your passcode (if you don’t know it, see your school librarian or technology coach)

 Learn 360 New Users


Complete your profile to REGISTER

Learn 360 Register


There’s a Help Center (circled in green below) to get you started with tutorials and how-to tips, and it even features a live chat option if you need additional assistance.

There’s also a Lesson Plan area (circled in pink below) that takes you to a page of topic links.  (There’s not much on the Lesson Plan page right now; I hope that will change soon.)

And you can sign up for the Learn 360 newsletter (circled in red below) to get monthly updates on new content and features.

Learn 360 Help


Have fun exploring the resources available here!

You can also follow @Learn360 on Twitter.

p.s. A link to this week’s WWW is posted at Netvibes, along with all of the previous WWW websites.


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First Day with First Grade

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I saw the first 1st grade class of the year on Friday, and we had a great time together! I like to mix it up with them because if we spend too long sitting still in one spot they either get the fidgety-wigglies or they fall asleep!

mr. wiggles bookWe begin by sitting on the story rug while I read Mr. Wiggle’s Book by Paula Craig, and we discuss all the things that make Mr. Wiggle sad when people don’t take care of books. Unfortunately the book is out of print now, and the prices on Amazon (at the time of this posting) are ridiculous! If you have a copy of the book, it’s a great introduction to book care for younger students, and it leads right into a fun song.

Wwhaddaya think of thate talk about what we see on the cover of the book — Mr. Wiggle wearing his reading glasses and “holding” a book — and then I introduce them to These Are My Glasses from the CD Whaddaya Think of That by Laurie Berkner. We then sing the chorus together a few times, using simple motions to act it out, and the kids love it! (By the way, when you order the CD from Amazon, you get the mp3 version free with your purchase.)

2-Mr. Wiggle0003

Mr. Wiggle is sad when you throw your library book.

Then we move to the library tables and review book care with a Mr. Wiggle powerpoint on the Promethean board. Finally, I hand out drawing paper and crayons and ask students to draw a picture of Mr. Wiggle, and a picture of something you should or should not do when borrowing a library book.  We talk about the “No” symbol (at the end of the book, and on slide 8 of the powerpoint) and they feel extremely sophisticated when they use it on their Do Not drawings! 1-Mr. Wiggle0002

If we have time, I allow volunteers to share their pictures with the class. We then practice the song one more time so they can sing it for their teacher when she picks them up.

I love to hear how indignant the kids sound when they tell me about things that are bad for books. Most of them take book care very seriously, which is just the way I like it!


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Story Style with Polyvore

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I have been playing around on Polyvore — the fashion and style website — this summer and having a lot of fun with it, and I keep thinking that if I enjoy it, some of my upper elementary girls would probably enjoy using it too.  I’ve been noodling around for a couple of weeks to come up with ways to make it educational as well as entertaining, and that’s how Story Style was born!


My idea is that students can use the Polyvore database of clothing and images (or upload their own) to create outfits that fictional characters might wear, like the above example of clothes for Fern from Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White.  Here I have re-imagined her as a modern-day girl caring for a runty pig on a farm, wearing overalls and rubber boots.

Here’s another example using historical fiction:

Molly from the MEET MOLLY SeriesOne from the fairy tale genre):

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror Mirror on the Wall by lori-june

And one from realistic fiction:

Clementine from the CLEMENTINE Series by Sara Pennypacker illus. by Marla Frazee

Clementine from the CLEMENTINE Series
by Sara Pennypacker illus. by Marla Frazee

clementine(Can’t you just picture Clementine doing a cartwheel?!)

And can you guess who this is?



babymouse queenOf course it’s Babymouse, from the series by Jennifer and Matthew Holm!

I can see students using this at a library learning center, and I can also envision teachers allowing students to create outfits for characters they meet in classroom novels (and justifying their clothing choices in a paragraph of persuasive writing) as an extension activity.  I could also hold  contests for students to create an outfit for a particular character; you’d have to Read the Book to Nail the Look!

I may also post some of these clothing sets on my kids book blog (Book Buzz) as interactives.  For example, students could look at the Junie B. Jones clothing set below and leave a comment voting for their favorite outfit.

Junie B. Jones: Pink or Blue?


I have created a StoryStyle Collection at Polyvore where I’ll be adding new sets periodically. Want to give it a try yourself?  I’d love to see — and share — your creations!  Just leave a comment here with the link to your Polyvore set(s), or tweet me @LibraryLoriJune.  I’ll be using the hashtag #StoryStyle on Twitter, so watch for it!

p.s. Polyvore is available online, or as a free iTunes or Android app.  🙂

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Celebrating Summer Reading

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Do you celebrate with your students who read over the summer?  I do!

Summer Reading Banner Filled

Every year we have a Summer Reading Ice Cream Sundae Party for students who read over the summer.  I require students to provide some sort of documentation of the reading they did — an official certificate or list of books read from a library or bookstore program, or a signed reading log that I provide for them.  (Click here if you would like to download a copy of the reading log I created.)

I ask parent volunteers to provide the ice cream and toppings, and to help with serving and crowd control.  (I also have one or two adults at the door with a checklist to make sure no one slips through uninvited!)  PTA assists us by decorating our cafeteria for the party, and our Art teacher makes a banner where everyone posts a favorite summer book.

Take a look at our video from last year’s festivities:

If you do something different to promote summer reading, please share it in the comments!



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Twitter Book Club Tonight

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Tonight is the Sharp-Schu Book Club chat on Twitter, featuring four early reader books:

What do you need to know to join in?

  • The chat is from 8:00-9:00 EST
  • use #SharpSchu
  • new chatters are always welcome!


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