My friend, who is a middle school English teacher, sent me a link to an article from The National Council of Teachers of English that discusses the advantages of using comics and graphic novels in the classroom entitled “Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom” ( I know—it’s a pretty straightforward title). Although the article is geared toward educators and discusses various ways to use the mediums in the classroom, I found the idea of comics and graphic novels being used as a tool to teach and improve reading comprehension and writing skills to be extremely interesting because I work with students who are trying to develop these skills every day.
In the article, Rachael Sawyer Perkins, an elementary school teacher, explains how she uses comics in her classroom. She states that the visual component of the comic helps her students become aware of important story elements; this is especially important for her students who have difficulty visualizing the story as they read traditional texts (“Using Comics”). In addition, she believes that comic panels provide an innovative way to teach students the important elements of a paragraph. She states that when she uses comic panels to teach the structure of a paragraph, her students “understand that each panel represented a paragraph” and that “[t]he narrative text at the top became the topic sentence [ . . . ] details were found in the visuals and in the dialogue” (“Using Comics”). In this way, Perkins uses comics to teach her students skills that they will need for a lifetime.
For many people, comics and graphic novels are read for fun, not for educational purposes. Many do not see the need for such mediums in a classroom; however, Perkins’ experience demonstrates how these mediums can combine both the students’ interests with their need to become good readers and organized, effective writers.
If you are interested, here is a link to the article: http://www.ncte.org/magazine/archives/122031
“Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom.” The National Council of Teachers of English. 5 Sept. 2007. Web. 11 Oct. 2014.