I recently did a project, in a secondary education class, on UDL (Universal Design for Learning), which is a method of creating opportunity for all different kinds of learners to be engaged and thrive in the classroom. The project involved identifying examples of the nine principles listed in the design. The second one is “Provide options for language, mathematical expression, and symbols” with a subcategory principle stating “Illustrate through multiple media.” My example was Watchmen as graphic novel accompanied by its motion picture adaption in a classroom. (I call it a “motion picture” because in this case, the Watchmen movie is literally the comic frames taken and mobilized slightly.)
Of course most middle and high school English classes would not include Watchmen in their curriculum for a host of reasons however, other graphic novels used like this are becoming a popular medium for teachers to teach with. I admit teaching only through graphic novel and movies would probably be super fun, but most likely cripple the U.S. literacy rate overtime. What has been found to be the most effective use of graphic novels in the classroom is accompanying a traditional novel with them. This helps visual learners and can make the lesson have a level of engagement and enjoyment that traditional lessons sometimes lack.
The graphic novel in honors classrooms is a relatively newer addition, however graphic novels were on the scene long before helping with literacy for students with learning disabilities and English Language Learners. With the graphic novel’s popularity rise all students are benefiting from their advantages. The graphic novel community has expanded into adaptations of classic stories, such as Shakespeare plays. There are now relevant books for a host of subjects in classroom, even statistics!
Personally I know looking at a textbook of information that I feel is only there for the purpose of academics was practically torture when I was in school. If graphic novels were introduced into my middle or high school experience I may have detested some subjects as much. Furthermore, as a visual learner, just reading the book, or listening to the recording of the book was not enough to have information locked into my memory. Watching movies in class were fun, but they do not require a person to be actively engaged in the learning process. Graphic novels are one of the few visual mediums that do require the person to be active when taking in the medium. Therefore they are a great medium to introduce into a secondary classroom or even, as English 386 knows, a college classroom.