For almost the past year, I have taught a lovely young woman in Spain named Rachel. The learning environment Rachel and I have is ideal: we meet twice a week-although it is at 4:30 am MST, class is one student to one teacher, whatever questions problems, concerns Rachel has, we can work through without having to get an administrators ok, see a counselor, etc… she simply calls/Skypes/emails and we handle it. There are considerable benefits to having a teacher all to yourself! The feedback and dialogue we are able to exchange remind me of how precious each individual moment we need to make with our students in classes of 30+. But all of that is not the reason for this post, Rachel has done something impressive I want to share with all of you.
Rachel, by her own admission, is not a big fan of writing. Writing is time consuming, often involving struggles with getting it right the first time, word choice, and questioning if this is what the teacher wants. Verbally and creatively, she can express her ideas, but holding true to traditional forms of writing often proves to be a challenge. Our classes together focused on Fiction to Film and then the recently completed Modern Political Struggles in Literature. During the time between the Fiction to Film and the political struggle unit, I wanted Rachel to read Persepolis and watch the movie. Afterwards, she was to write a literary analysis but with a twist- the essay was to be completed in graphic novel form.
I am sure there are many out there who would argue that what I am about to link to is not a literary analysis per se, but it does meet all the requirements of a literary analysis. Rachel still needed to have a strong argumentative thesis/essay, to use the texts (both novel and video) as evidence to support her essay, and even more challenging, she needed to find images to support her thoughts.
Before Rachel wrote anything, I introduced her to using Webspiration to map her graphic novel essay. What was amazing is how visually helpful this was to Rachel’s organization and thought process. After graphing out her essay, Rachel then started collecting images and text that would support her thesis.
After meeting off and on over the course of the semester reagarding this project, Rachel put it all together. Here is her finished work. I know she would love for you to comment on her accompishment.
Think about the graphic novel form in your own classes. I know one thing I am going to ask my students to do is to do graphic novel sticky notes- an idea I learned/ stole from Christian Long. Think about using images to support writing versus just text and quotes. Think about how well this works as a way to change the way we teaching writing. Think about it.