Drawing comics is a worthwhile activity in and of itself, but it’s also a powerful tool for exploring curriculum & building meaning in a classroom community. Comics projects have a way of integrating several subjects into a single authentic learning experience!
On Choosing Curricular Topics:
- The best topics (for creating comics) are already familiar to the students, with some research and synthesis work completed before the residency begins.
- Themes that are unfamiliar to the students, or that have been introduced the day before the comics work begins, can still serve if we treat our comics work as introductory explorations of prior knowledge.
- Students may want to do some research while working on their comics. They’ll often start drawing, and only then realize they need to fill a gap in their understanding. (“Oh wait, what did houses look like back then?”) For that reason, it’s often useful to have access to research materials & sources while working on our comics.
Here are some typical sample subjects & topics addressed in past COMICS WORKSHOP residencies, plus links to related projects by Marek and/or student artists:
- The Civil War Diary of Freeman Colby
Local history, Civil War history, working with primary source documents, multi-source research methods. [ Freeman Colby online archive >> ] [ Sample Pages (PDF) >> ]
- Freeman Colby Vol. 2 (work in progress)
How do you reconstruct a narrative from multiple partial primary & secondary sources? [ Follow along on the project Patreon… >> ]
- “Live Free and Draw”
State & local history, primary & secondary sources, personal narratives. [ Guest posts by students >> ]
- “CIVIL WAR COMICS CAMP”
Outline of a program for middle schoolers, integrating history, comics, music, & language arts. [ Read students’ comics drawn from the diary of Charles Wilcox >> ]
- The Weeks Act Story
Environmental science, legislative process, environmental activism, regional history (visual sources) [ Printable PDF >> ]
- John Weeks, 1911 (Comics+Music Video)
Environmental science, music, history (primary source), poetry [ Printable songsheet PDF >> ]
- Bicknell’s Thrush: Exploring a Wicked Conservation Problem
Visual notes live-drawn during the 2017 conference at Plymouth State University.
Addressing various topics in math & art & literature.
- MATH LINKS
Lots of other cool visual math resources!
- El Viaje Mas Caro / The Most Costly Journey
Comics project hosted by UVM & the Vermont Folklife Center. New England cartoonists work with migrant laborers in the VT dairy industry to produce Spanish language & bilingual comics about health issues in the migrant community. [ Project archive @ VFC >> ]
- Slovakia: Fall in the Heart of Europe
Graphic novel travel memoir, with extensive exploration of language (Slovak & other). [ Read online >> ] [ Slovak language posts >> ] [ Slovak song lyrics >> ]
“Jazykolamy” (low-vowel content tongue twisters >>
- The NH State COMICStitution
A graphic adaptation of various articles from the NH state constitution.
- “Multiple Intelligences & Comics Education” (drawn for the 2011 NECAC anthology)
- “Comics & the Common Core…”
Here are a few of Marek’s comics creation resources to preview with students: