Promoting Literacy with Cartoons, Comics, and Graphic Novels
Last night I presented my first ever webinar. It was the final session of our MLTI online conference Pictures Sounds Numbers Words and, I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive at first. Although I have attended many webinars, I had never conducted one and I really didn’t know what to expect.
I was fortunate to have a few factors in my favor that made this a really enjoyable experience. My session was the last of a four-day event so I was able to attend several others first and get a real feel for environment. I had a pretty good idea of what would work for me and what wouldn’t and I had plenty of time to practice.
We promoted the conference through our various social networking sites so by the time I had tweeted it and written about it on Facebook, most of my colleagues and friends were aware of it. As the session was starting and I scanned down the list of attendees, I saw that they were mostly members of my huge MLTI network. It was like having a conversation with a group of old friends.
Of course, another factor that made it easy was the great content. I was able to talk for an hour about something I really believed in – that comics have a place in a well-rounded literacy program. As I watched the chat room fill with great ideas from the participants, it hit me. We’re finally allowing students to talk in class! Although we all know that learning is social, and discussion is powerful, teachers still ask students to be silent and give their full attention while the teacher is talking. It just seems too distracting to allow side conversations but in this webinar, the side conversations made the content so much richer.
If you’re interested in watching me and my friends talk about comics and literacy, check out the recording of this session and, while you’re there, drop in on some of the others.
Pictures Sounds Numbers Words
MLTI is offering an online conference for educators, May 4-7. This is an exciting new venture for us. For the first time we are running a conference that includes no face-to-face workshops; everything is online.
Former Maine Governor Angus King will be the keynote speaker, opening the conference on Monday, May4. There are 28 sessions scheduled for the four days of the conference – something for everyone. Registration is not required but is encouraged. To receive a certificate for contact hours you must pre-register.
My session Promoting Literacy with Cartoons, Comics and Graphic Novels will be the last one on Thursday night. This will be my first webinar and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to reach a larger audience than I would with a traditional face-to-face workshop. The one-hour time frame may be a challenge for me, but I want to make the participants aware of the possibilities, with the hope that they will follow-up with some hands-on work on their own.
As we were discussing how to market this, I came across a tool that has some possibilities for story-telling with comic characters. (Thanks, David P.) Xtranormal is a tool for easily making movies from a your written script. While it can’t really be classified as a comic creator, it serves the same purpose. I like it because it allows those students who may not have strong drawing skills to create a visual piece using their writing. If you create an account, you can save your movies on the Xtranormal site, or you can export them to a YouTube site.
As I was trying it out I had the online conference on my mind so that became the content for my first movie:
I’m preparing for a session I will be leading at an MLTI Summer Institute and I realized that it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything to this blog. My session is all about promoting literacy with cartoons, comics and graphic novels. Maybe I’ll find a way to use this blog as I try to stir up a little interest in the topic. I’ve done a short (one hour) presentation on this topic in the past but this one will be three-hours long with opportunities for some hands-on work.
I think many teachers are still skeptical about using comics in their teaching and my challenge will be to prove that comic art has a legitimate place in a well-rounded literacy program. I hope the topic will appeal to teachers in all subject areas. I’ve been thinking a lot about using comics for teaching ESL students. I may start with this quote:
“I’ve always said that I learned the English I know through two sources — Marvel Comics and Finnegans Wake.” – Umberto Eco