English Comic Strip Assignment Directions

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Lesson Plan

Book Report Alternative: Comic Strips and Cartoon Squares

 

Grades6 – 8
Lesson Plan TypeStandard Lesson
Estimated TimeTwo 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

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OVERVIEW

Students examine graphic novels and comic books and discuss  the important components of the genre, such as captions, dialogue, and images. They then use an online tool to create a six-panel comic highlighting six key scenes in a book they have read. By creating comic strips or cartoon squares featuring characters in books, students are encouraged to think analytically about the characters, events, and themes they've explored in ways that expand their critical thinking by focusing on crystallizing the significant points of the book in a few short scenes.

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FEATURED RESOURCES

Comic Creator: This online tool allows students to easily create and print comic strips.

Comic Strip Planning Sheet: Use this worksheet for students to plan their comic strips before using the online tool.

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FROM THEORY TO PRACTICE

This activity invites the student to think symbolically. The students choose key scenes for their characters and books, find landscapes and props that fit the scenes, and compose related dialogue. These student representations of the books, with their multifaceted texts using symbols, images, texts, and metaphor, succeed in the classroom because they provide a snapshot of the students' comprehension of the ideas in the texts. As Vokoun describes, the alternative to a traditional book report "allows students to create something unique and show their understanding of what they read."

Further Reading

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. New York: Harper Collins.

 

Voukon, Michael. “Alternative Book Reports.”  English Journal 94.4 (March 2005):  117-119.

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Standards

NCTE/IRA NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS

3.

Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).

 

11.

Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

 

12.

Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

 

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Resources & Preparation

MATERIALS AND TECHNOLOGY

Graphic novels and comic book versions of well-known books for inspiration and comparison (optional)

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STUDENT INTERACTIVES

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Comic Creator

The Comic Creator invites students to compose their own comic strips for a variety of contexts (prewriting, pre- and postreading activities, response to literature, and so on).

 

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PRINTOUTS

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WEBSITES

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PREPARATION

  • Before this lesson, students will read a book independently, in literature circles, or as a whole class.

  • Ask students to bring copies of the book that will be the focus of their comic strips to class for reference.

  • Make copies or overheads of the planning sheet and the rubric.

  • Practice the steps for using the Comic Creator with your computers.

  • Visit the Website of Scott McCloud, author of Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics, for background on the genre, inspirations, and sample comics. Additional information can also be found at  Integrative Art: American Comic Strips from Pennsylvania State University.

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Instructional Plan

STUDENT OBJECTIVES

Students will

  • identify appropriate landscapes, characters, and props that relate to the events and characters in the books they've read.

  • interact with classmates to give and receive feedback.

  • explore how audience, purpose, and medium shape their writing.

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Session 1

  1. Introduce the writing activity, sharing the planning sheet, rubric, and sample graphic novels and comic books.

    1. Share the example graphic novels and comic books with students and explain the assignment, pointing out each of the parts that are included.

    2. Lead students through discussion of the key elements for each part. Sample discussion questions can include the following:


      • What are the important characteristics of a caption? What do the words in the captions tell you about the scene depicted?

      • What kind of landscape makes sense for the scene?

      • What props can you associate with the scene?

      • How kind of dialogue bubble makes sense for the interaction?

      • What connects one scene to the next in the comic strip?
  2. Once you're satisfied that students understand the assignment, demonstrate the Comic Creator student interactive and discuss its relationship to the Comic Strip Planning Sheet. Be sure to cycle through the options for characters and dialogue bubbles to show students the range of options available.

  3. Have students begin work with the Comic Strip Planning Sheet to plan their book reports. Students can work individually or in groups on this project.

  4. Encourage students to interact with one another, to share and receive feedback on their plans for comic strips. Since these comics will be shared in the class as well as in the library, hearing the feedback and comments of other students helps writers refine their work for their audience.

  5. Students can continue working on the project for homework if desired.

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Session 2

  1. Remind students of the goals and elements included in this project. Answer any questions students have.

  2. To make comic strips, have your students follow these basic steps, referring to their planning sheet as they work in the Comic Creator:

    1. For the comic title, name the scene (or scenes) that will be depicted.

    2. For the comic subtitle, name the book where the scene is found.

    3. Include your name or the names of the members of your group as the authors of this comic strip.

    4. Choose the six-frame comic strip. (Alternately, have students choose the one-frame cartoon square and focus their work on an important scene in the book).

    5. In each of the six frames of the comic strip show a significant event from the book.

    6. Under each picture or cartoon, write a caption that provides additional detail on the scene.

    7. Print at least three copies of your finished comic strip.

  3. While students work, again encourage them to interact with one another, to share and receive feedback on their plans for comic strips.

  4. After the comic strips are printed out, students can decorate them with markers or other classroom supplies.

  5. As students finish, ask them to turn in two copies of the comic strip (one for you and one for the librarian-the third copy is for the students to keep).

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STUDENT ASSESSMENT/REFLECTIONS

For more formal assessment, use the Comic Strip Rubric which is tied to the elements included in the planning sheet.

On the other hand, nothing is as useful as the feedback that they'll receive by sharing their comic strips with their peers. Informal feedback from students who read the comics and search out the related book are excellent feedback for students.

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Related Resources

LESSON PLANS

Grades   9 – 12  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Characters for Hire! Studying Character in Drama

In this alternative to the traditional book report, students respond to a play they have read by creating a resume for one of its characters.

 

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Book Report Alternative: Glog That Book!

In this alternative book report, students identify the elements of fiction in books they have read by creating glogs, interactive multimedia posters, and then share their glogs.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: The Elements of Fiction

Students identify the elements of fiction in a book they have read and share summaries of them by writing and illustrating their own mini-book.

 

Grades   6 – 10  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

"Licensed" to Drive: Old West Figures

This lesson invites students to create a "Driver's License" for characters that have made a contribution to western expansion in the United States.

 

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Book Report Alternative: Character and Author Business Cards

Students respond to a book they have read by thinking symbolically to create a business card for one of the characters.

 

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Book Report Alternative: Getting Acquainted with Farcebook

In this alternative to the traditional book report, students report on their novel choices using Facebook-like pages.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Summary, Symbol, and Analysis in Bookmarks

Students make bookmarks on computers and share their ideas with other readers at their school, while practicing summarizing, recognizing symbols, and writing reviews—all for an authentic audience.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Hooking a Reader with a Book Cover

Students select a book to read based only on its cover art. After reading the book, they use an interactive tool to create a new cover for it.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Creating a New Book Cover

Students explore book covers of a variety of books then create a new cover for a book they have read.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Writing Resumes for Characters in Historical Fiction

Students write resumes for historical fiction characters. They first explore help wanted ads to see what employers want, and then draft resumes for the characters they've chosen.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Creating a Childhood for a Character

Students explore familiar literary characters, usually first encountered as adults, but whose childhood stories are only told later. Students then create childhoods for adult characters from books of their choice.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: A Character's Letter to the Editor

Students write a persuasive letter to the editor of a newspaper from a selected fictional character's perspective, focusing on a specific issue or situation explored in the novel.

 

Grades   6 – 8  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Creating Careers for Characters

Students select a job listing for a character in a book they have read, then create a resume and application letter for that character.

 

Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Book Report Alternative: Examining Story Elements Using Story Map Comic Strips

Comic frames are traditionally used to illustrate a story in a short, concise format. In this lesson, students use a six-paneled comic strip frame to create a story map, summarizing a book or story that they've read. Each panel retells a particular detail or explains a literary element (such as setting or character) from the story.

 

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STUDENT INTERACTIVES

Grades   K – 12  |  Student Interactive  |  Writing & Publishing Prose

Comic Creator

The Comic Creator invites students to compose their own comic strips for a variety of contexts (prewriting, pre- and postreading activities, response to literature, and so on).

 

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CALENDAR ACTIVITIES

Grades   3 – 8  |  Calendar Activity  |  November 18

Mickey Mouse appeared in his first animated feature.

Students create a short, humorous story with at least one action character, and then use online tools to make a flipbook.

 

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PROFESSIONAL LIBRARY

Grades   8 – 12  |  Professional Library  |  Journal

Alternative Book Reports

This article describes different ways that students can report on books they have read other than the traditional "book report."

 

Grades   8 – 12  |  Professional Library  |  Journal

Fifty Alternatives to the Book Report

Offers 50 diverse suggestions intended to offer students new ways to think about a piece of literature, new directions to explore, and ways to respond with greater depth to the books they read.

 

Professional Library  |  Journal

How Comic Books Can Change the Way Our Students See Literature: One Teacher's Perspective

In this article, Versaci details the many merits of using comics and graphic novels in the classroom, suggests how they can be integrated into historical and social issues units, and recommends several titles.

 

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ACTIVITIES & PROJECTS

Grades   6 – 8  |  Activity & Project

Comics and Graphic Novels

Instead of creating traditional book reports or writing summaries, get "graphic" by creating a comic book or cartoon adaptation of the major scenes from the books.

 

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Comments

This is a great project. I had my students write their own story and then proceed to make it a comic book. All of this information was very helpful.

 

Lisa Fink, RWT Staff

January 19, 2010

We are very glad that you found this resource, and others to be helpful. If you are interested in sharing lesson plan or teaching ideas with the site, please fill out our Contribute form: http://www.readwritethink.org/util/contribute-to-rwt.html.

 

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn. I've experienced a lot with my class using this website to help me help them write they're book reports and share them with the class. Atleast I now know where to look when my class is doing book reports! This strategy helped me a lot in the 2009 - 2010 school year. Thanks very much for your help.

 

 

  • Computers for students
  • Charlotte's Web: A Flashlight Readers Online Activity
  • Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
  • Variety of multi-framed comic strips to hand out or project from the comics section of a local newspaper or a website such as PEANUTS or GoComics 
  • Story Train printable
  • Problem and Solution Diagram printable
  • Printer
  • Optional: Computer and projector for web demonstrations
  • Optional: Three-ring binder and page protectors for creating class book of comics
  1. Bookmark the Flashlight Readers: Charlotte's Web online activity on the computers students will use.
  2. Optional: Prepare several comic strips on your class computer to display for the class.

Step 1

Distribute the sample comic strips to small groups or project them for the whole class to see. Working with one comic strip at a time, analyze with students how the comic-strip creator combined text, quotes, and images to tell a story or event or convey a message.

Have students identify the characters, setting, and plot in each one. Point out any captions that appear and explain that these are often used to provide a brief narration or give additional information. Have students identify speech and thought bubbles in the examples, and explain how these devices are used: a speech bubble contains the character's spoken words while a thought bubble expresses the character's unspoken thoughts.

Sum up this step by telling students that, due to limited space, comic strips focus on the main idea and the most important elements of the topic, event, or message to be communicated.

 

Step 2

Project the Flashlight Readers: Charlotte's Web: Make Your Own Comics online activity for the whole class to see or send students to the computers. Introduce the activity, review its objectives, and read the instructions together.

Explain to students that they will choose from a number of characters, settings, and objects to create three-, five-, and six-frame comic strips. They can set up each frame and add captions, dialogue, and character thoughts to construct comic strips that recap the whole story, retell a part of the story, show a new version, depict a problem and its solution, share information, or express an opinion.

Before students begin the activity, review with them each of the sample pages. Discuss the characters, setting, and sequence of events in each sample. Ask students to identify the main idea of each comic strip and tell if and how it relates to the story.
 

Step 3

Go to the online activity's "Choose a Layout" screen (or have students follow along) and show students the two sets of layout templates.

The templates in the top set of layouts are open-ended and allow students to create their own comic strips from start to finish. Each template in the bottom set includes a permanent image at the beginning or end of the strip. Students can construct a storyline with these to show what comes before or after the permanent image.
 

Step 4

To demonstrate how to construct a comic strip, choose a template and advance to the layout screen. Working through one element at a time, review all the images for characters, settings, objects, and bubbles. Show students how to click and drag the items to the comic frames and then use the command buttons at the top left to adjust the size, orientation, and position of the item. Explain that they should click the trash can to delete any unwanted items. Choose several kinds of bubbles, and demonstrate how to insert text in the bubbles. Point out that each bubble uses a specific size and kind of font.
 

Step 5

Distribute copies of the Story Train reproducible and the Problem and Solution Diagram reproducible. Remind students that their layout choices consist of three-, five-, and six-frame comic strips. Have them decide which template they will use for their comic strip, and then use the appropriate graphic organizer to develop a plan for conveying the main idea and sequence of events for their topic.

As they work out their plan, encourage students to also include which characters, setting, and other elements will be featured in each frame. Keep copies of Charlotte's Web on hand for students to refer to as needed.

Have students formulate a plan for at least one layout template containing a permanent image in the first or last frame. For this template, students will use the permanent image and text as a guide when planning the ideas, action, dialogue and other components of the comic strip. They should also create one or more plans for constructing comics with the open-ended templates.
 

Step 6

After planning the organization of their comic strips, have students go to the online activity and choose the selected layout from the bottom set of templates and begin creating. They should refer to their outline to construct the comic.

After completing their comic strip, instruct students to review their work for correct spelling, grammar, and mechanics, as well as the presentation and clarity of ideas and events. Ask them to make revisions and then print out the piece to later share with classmates.
 

Step 7

Invite students to organize and create additional comic strips using the blank templates to reconstruct story events or make up their own events.

They might also feature one or more characters to express an opinion or share a special message. For example, students might show a discussion between two animals on the subject of growing animals to use for food.

Or students can create comic strips to share factual or interesting information about a particular topic, such as spiders. After editing their own work, invite students to print out their completed comic strips.
 

Step 8

If students printed black-and-white copies of their comic strips, invite them to add a little color with markers or crayons. Then have them write their names on the back of their pages.

To create a book of Charlotte's Web comics for the class to enjoy, have students slip their pages into clear, three-hole punched page protectors (two pages can be placed back-to-back in each protector) and then fasten the pages in a three-ring binder.

Later, students can remove their comic strips and take them home to display or add to their own scrapbooks.

  • Working in pairs, have students share with each other their versions of the comic strips that contained a permanent image in the first or last frame. Encourage them to find similarities and differences in how they depicted events, characters, and settings to complete the storyline.
  • Copy and distribute copies of the blank layout templates. Invite students to create comic strips to tell about a personal experience, retell an event from a favorite book, or express a message. Collect the pages and display them with the title "Comic Strip Compositions."
  • Invite students to structure and write an expanded story using their literature-based or personal comic strips as the starting point. Encourage them to revise their work based on feedback from self- and peer-edit reviews.
  • Review each student's comic strips for content, clarity of ideas, and correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar.

Benchmarks: Language Arts Standards (4th ed.)

  • Uses prewriting strategies to plan written work (e.g., uses graphic organizers; brainstorms ideas; organizes information according to type and purpose of writing)
  • Uses strategies to draft and revise written work (e.g., elaborates on a central idea; writes with attention to audience, word choice, sentence variation)
  • Uses strategies to edit and publish written work (e.g., edits for grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and spelling at a developmentally appropriate level; selects presentation format according to purpose; incorporates photos and illustrations; uses technology to compose and publish work)
  • Evaluates own and others' writing (e.g., determines the best features of a piece of writing, determines how own writing achieves its purposes, asks for feedback, responds to classmates' writing)
  • Writes in response to literature (e.g., summarizes main ideas and significant details; relates own ideas to supporting details; advances judgments; supports judgments with references to the text, other works, other authors, non-print media, and personal knowledge)

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