*THIS POST IS PART OF A CONTINUING SERIES OF RESPONSES TO SCHOLARLY TEXTS FOR LEARNING WITH DIGITAL STORIES, A MASTER LEVEL COURSE I AM ENROLLED IN AT UC DENVER.
The first task in selling decision makers on the value of comics as a tool for New Literacy education would be to connect comics as content to teach the multiple common core state standards (CCSS), preferably to shine a light on comics as the best content to use when teaching specific standards. Todd Finley at edutopia suggests comics are a good fit, as instruction content, for the visual literacies standard of the CCSS . In his article Common Core in Action: 10 Visual Literacy Strategies, Finley suggest practical strategies for giving students time to practice and develop their visual literacy. His activities are simple but powerful and could be adapted for many different visuals – such as photographs and picture books, but I think that many of his strategies will be powerful to use in conjunction with comics because of the presence of text to support or refute inferences made from the visual art and the engaging qualities of comics themselves.
Finley suggest using two activities, Asking the 4ws and Visual Thinking Strategies, that would benefit because of comics are composed of both text and visuals. These activities ask the participants to make inferences about the images they are viewing. The participant benefits from the text in a comic in two ways. First the text can act as a scaffold for inferences about character motivations or emotions. Next, the text defines the narrative of the comic, like any book students read, the narrative empowers the reader to discover if their predictions and inferences were correct by reading the text.
Two more activities Finley suggests that would be powerful and engaging when paired with comics are Image Analysis Worksheets from The National Archives and the Working with Images That Matter protocol. These activities require the student to use higher order thinking to analyze images and discuss their meaning and relevance. These tasks are rigorous and require multiple viewings of the same image, to be successful in these tasks students need to be engaged in the image. Comics provide engaging visual content that supports student perseverance in completing the activity.
The activities suggested by Finley are userfeindly and would be great additions to any teacher’s toolbox for teaching visual literacy standards of the CCSS. Comics are a great way to introduce visual literacy standards, scaffold their instruction, and provide motivation for perseverance.