Finding New New Literacies Tools – Week 14 Response to Chosen Text

*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.

Comics are awesome tools for promoting new literacies in the classroom – I have found plenty of evidence in the form of scholarly text this semester that support that stance. I feel that the application of comics in the classroom for students to read is natural and something that I have already implemented throughout my teaching practice. What I have found is that I don’t have a grasp of yet is bringing comics into my practice for writing. I have always supported students that want to turn work or narratives into comics but this generally occurs when the students already see themselves as artist and are drawn to illustrating. I have evolved my thinking about teaching  comics as being most beneficial in a classroom for just reluctant readers but for the whole class  and have been looking for ways to open the options for writing comics for students that are not just “artists”. I found a EdTechReview article that highlights an intriguing web 2.0 storyboarding/digital comic tool – StoryboardThat.com.

 

I am excited to find a tool like this for two reasons, one I want to find a user friendly tool for students to use to create new literacy projects and two I want find tools that will fit my focus of graphic novels and can use with my final digital story for my master class.  A few weeks back I did some research into crafting reviews of books for the same reasons and have been more critical of other reviews that I have read. The EdTechReview gives a nice overview of the this tool and provides useful analysis of how to use this tool in the classroom with children. Both as a tool for delivering content and for students to use in their creation of narratives. EdTech also does a great job of providing practical information about StoryboardThat by including pricing plans and a walkthrough for setting up an account and launching a comic strip.
Finally this article’s final recommendation was particularly well crafted. The author not only told me that this is a powerful and user-friendly tool but connected it to my classroom practice by highlighting specific competencies that this tool could be used to support. I am looking forward to experimenting with StoryboardThat with my own digital story and determining how I might use this tool in my practice.

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Finding New New Literacies Tools – Week 14 Response to Chosen Text

Simply Digital – Week 12 Critique of xkcd: Click and Drag

*I HAVE BEEN READING AND CRITIQUING DIGITAL COMICS, FOR MY MASTER LEVEL STUDIES, IN A CONTINUING SERIES TO DEVELOP MY EXPOSURE TO AND UNDERSTANDING OF THIS NEW LITERACY

I found a surprising digital story this week. I was surprised because I found it as a single installment of the continuing xkcd web comic.  xkcd is a well known comic strip that is housed online. The drawing are usually simple – stick figures and line drawings, but they provide a strong delivery of the witty and poignant dialogue from writer Randall Munroe. I love this strip but do not see digital features that transform xkcd episodes from traditional comic strips into digital stories. The digital environment provides a great format to deliver this excellent comic strip to a wide audience, but the narrative and way the story is told is the same as if xkcd were published in a newspaper. What surprised me was the exception, an installment titled Click and Drag. This strip  uses an element of the infinite canvas to turn a single panel of the strip into a window that shows a portion of a large and sprawling drawn world. Viewers click and drag the image within the panel to change their view and explore Munroe’s world.  For a critique of Click and Drag I will look at Munroe’s story, media application and project planning

Story

The simple message of Click and Drag is shared with the text and then brilliantly illustrated with hundreds of static images on an (almost) infinite canvas. The technology, text and images all work flawlessly work together to share a simple but universal message. The simple story supports the exploration of the Munroe’s huge digital world, because if the story were complex and the digital world vast the combination would have been overwhelming. With a simple message the exploration is carefree and facilitates all the narrative features working together.

Media application

Looking at the sprawling world thought the panel/window make the images you find surprising, because you stumble upon them without any warning. This enables Munroe to spring jokes and poignant thoughts on the unsuspecting viewer. I even found myself laughing out loud on a few occasions. The panel as a window also enables the viewer to have a unique experience when using the click and drag features, because that viewer is in control of how they explore the digital world, and gives the viewer an interactive reading experience.

Project Planning

I would be interested in seeing what Munroe’s Click and Drag world would look like fully zoomed out. The picture must be massive. While I was playing the digital world seemed to go on (at least left and right) forever. I thought eventually the world would complete a circle and I would be back where I started but it never happened nor did I find an end.  This world must have taken considerable planning to create, not only is it a massive world but in every nook and cranny of the ever changing landscape are figures interacting, philosophizing or cracking jokes.

 

This is a really simple comic strip that is both fun to play with and has a useful as a message about the world we live in. I also see it as a metaphor for interacting with the digital world. Through our computer screens we view the constantly changing landscape of the sprawling digital world and just like the figures that populate the world in Click and Drag, the citizens of the digital world have engaging and surprising stories to tell. The more we explore the more stories we will be exposed to.

Afterword

I decided that there must be a way to see the whole massive drawing from Drag and Click so I searched the web some more and found a zoomable picture. I have only one word: impressive.  

Simply Digital – Week 12 Critique of xkcd: Click and Drag

Digital Storytelling Project: the Research – A Response to Chosen Text Week 12

*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.

For my digital storytelling class I have begun developing a digital project of my own, I don’t know the final way that I’ll deliver my message but I want an ongoing series where I review graphic novels and make suggestions for viewers based on their hobbies, interests or preferred genres of literature or entertainment. I often have suggestions for my friends and family for graphic novels they should enjoy based off their other preferences and I want to offer that to a larger audience. I do not have a background in the reviews will need to write so I took the opportunity this week to to research some articles about creating book reviews to support my project.  I found four particularly helpful pieces that I am going to use to support my crafting of the graphic novel reviews in my series. These articles are:

Each provides text information on the how or the why of reviewing books, by synthesizing these lessons I can create engaging and informative graphic novel reviews. Summarized below are the lessons I took from each article.

How to Write a Book Review

Asenjo’s article is mostly a list of questions to what a reviewer should ponder to support in the development and writing of a review. The questions are organized by the steps of the writing process and aim to keep the review informative and engaging. These questions will be very useful for keeping in mind before, during and after reading my chosen graphic novel and during the prewriting and writing of the review. It was especially good to be reminded to preview the book (something I always tell my students to do but never bother doing my self) and develop opinions about what the title means, what I can learn from introductions or prefaces and how the book is organized. For my reviews this would also include previewing some art work and determining what tone it sets for the narrative.

Book Reviews Hanout

This handout from the University of North Carolina provides some background on what a review is and made a point to highlight that a reviewer’s purpose is to make an argument not just to summarize the author’s points. For the university writing center this means determining if one agrees or disagrees with an author and providing evidence as to why, in my reviews I will argue why my viewers should read a particular graphic novel and then support my claim by connecting the narrative with my viewer’s interests, hobbies or preferred genres.

Tips for Writing Book Reviews

First I want to state that I did not realize, until linking to Luisa Playa’s article above, that it is written for teen writers. Playa’s article, however, is concise and is a useful outline for making sure that a review is covering all bases the intended audience will be expecting.  Also I am using this project as a springboard for having students create their own reviews of graphic novels and so it is nice to have manageable reference guide that they can follow and to have created exemplars that follow the same model. Playa’s tips are to start with a brief description of the first half of the book or so, no spoilers! Next share what you liked, anything you disliked and a wrap up with an optional rating.

Writing Book Reviews

This how to guide from the Writing Tutorial Service at Indiana University provided similar tips as the UNC handout but had a great reason for why reviews are useful for the reviewer. In education it is important for students to understand why they are participating in a learning task. So I want to share this quotation with my students and keep it in mind myself when I am writing graphic novel reviews. “Reviewers answer not only the WHAT but the SO WHAT question about a book. Thus, in writing a review, you combine the skills of describing what is on the page, analyzing how the book tried to achieve its purpose, and expressing your own reactions.”

The ideas I found in these four text have given me plenty to think about and use to scaffold my own graphic novel reviews now I have to apply what I have learned to take the next steps in my digital project.

Digital Storytelling Project: the Research – A Response to Chosen Text Week 12

Integration of Comics with Mainstream Literature! – A Response to Scholarly Text Week 10

*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.

I often use an alert from Google Scholar for articles dealing with graphic novels to help me find texts for these posts. I don’t always get articles that fit what I am doing or don’t consider scholarly enough; Google alerts me for a lot of thesis papers. I have found, however, that I can use the author’s references as a resource to more articles. That is what happened this week, I looked at a suggestion from Google that was not going to work but found a great article in the references, James Bucky Carter’s Going Graphic. This article, written in 2009, for the journal Educational Leadership is a great how to for integrating graphic novels into standard literacy education in a K 12 classroom. Carter argues that comics help create “well rounded” literacy learners so it is best to create more robust literacy instruction by incorporating comics and graphic novels .

It is easy to view graphic novels and comics as a genre of literature but Carter states that this is a misconception. Comics should be seen as a separate art form with its own genres that mirror the traditional literature genres. There are great graphic novel examples of historical fiction, biography, realistic fiction, mystery, science fiction and more genres and these titles should be presented with similar written texts.  I have made the mistake of using graphic novels as a separate mini unit in my literacy block, and I now see how much more engaging it is for the learner to have access to both written text and sequential images and text in the same genre.

Carter also provides another important word of caution for teachers using comics in the classroom, by reminding the reader that comics and graphic novels are “not necessarily kids stuff”. He tells some cautionary tales of teachers giving graphic novels to children that depicted inappropriate scenarios, and the eventual consequences for the teachers who had not carefully read the materials that they gave to students. The opportunity to offend could be more subtle, the “naked buns” effect describes a situation where a concept, such as “naked buns” is inoffensive in a written text but could be seen as defensive when drawn in a comic.

Going Graphic is a great checklist for the teacher that is thinking of incorporating graphic novels into her practice.  There is also a great beginners list of age appropriate titles that a teacher can share with her students.

Integration of Comics with Mainstream Literature! – A Response to Scholarly Text Week 10

My Digital Response to Storytelling Text – Week 9

*THIS POST IS PART OF A CONTINUING SERIES OF RESPONSES TO ASSIGNED READINGS FOR LEARNING WITH DIGITAL STORIES, A MASTER LEVEL COURSE I AM ENROLLED IN AT UC DENVER.

I decided to try something new this week and created a digital response to the assigned readings from my Digital Storytelling class at UC Denver. I hope you enjoy:

My Digital Response to Storytelling Text – Week 9

A New Perspective on Digital Comics – A Digital Story Critquie

*THIS POST BELONGS TO A COLLECTION OF CRITIQUES OF DIGITAL COMICS AND RELATED MATERIAL, CREATED FOR A MASTER LEVER COURSE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO DENVER.

I have been searching out new digital comics to critique and determine if they are genuine digital comics,  rather than traditional comics delivered digitally, by employing some questions and standards I developed here. I found quite a few but they did not work for my purpose. They were ether to similar to the digital comics I have recently reviewed or where not worth the time to critique them. As I dug deeper into I found a talk from Mark Waid, who is an award winning comic writer, discussing his vision for truly digital comics at the 2013 O’Reilly Media’s Tools of Change for Publishing Conference.

Early on in my inquiry into digital comics I reviewed award winning writer/artist Scott McCloud’s TED talk on the same subject. I have become enamored with McCloud’s work around comics and how to re-imagine them for the digital environment, and was excited to find another prominent figure in the traditional comic publishing championing digital comics. So I eagerly decided to focus my discussion this week on Waid’s talk, have decided on three criteria to for my critique:

  • Story
  • Content understanding
  • Originality, voice, creativity

Story

Waid and McCloud’s visions for the future of digital comics are similar, both speakers agreed that the over use or relying on animation and sound/music would fundamentally change comics into Flash cartoons. These visions, however, are fundamentally different in the way comic are presented in the digital environment. I discuss McCloud’s concept of the infinite canvas here, Waid sees digital comics existing on digital pages where the static images and panels change without extensive scrolling in the digital plan. The comic panels fade in and out or have new static images layered on top of existing images to creating feelings of depth and motion. Waids comics tell stories in a fundamentally different way than traditional comics or even digital comics employing the infinite canvas concept.

Content Understanding

As a successful and award winning  contributor to the comic book industry Waid has first hand knowledge of how the traditional comic book industry work and insight into how comics should adapt to the digital environment. His laid back comfortable delivery appropriately conveys his confidence in discussing the topic. Waid illustrates his points about the evolution of digital comics using examples he created. He is able to describe the ways digital elements are used to fundamentally alter the way the story is told. His knowledge supports a convincing argument about the nature of authentic digital comics. 

Originality, voice, creativity

I was surprised to see that this talk was 20+ minutes, which seemed long for a talk of this sort and was initially turned off by the lack of digital medial to break up the somewhat monotonous nature of being lectured at BUT when Ward started sharing his creations the comics spoke for themselves. Waid’s vision of the digital page is very original but simple. The page itself changes like a digital slide show, with panels appearing and disappearing the motion is eye catching and drawing the reader’s attention to new scenes.  The unique way these drawings appear and disappear draws the reader’s eye to new content but still empowers the readers to see the larger scene, similar to a traditional comic but completely different and awesome.

 
I am so excited to check out more of Waid’s digital work, and I know you are too, and we are lucky that Ward, and his collaborators, have created Thrillbent comics! They look great,and I am excited to be critiquing samples in the next few weeks.

A New Perspective on Digital Comics – A Digital Story Critquie