Supporting the mission of my Digital Story – A Response to Chosen Text Week 15


For my digital project that I have launched for ILT5240, I am using twitter to create a dialogue with a community around making recommendations for graphic novels. I have launched the twitter account @G_N_Librarian and a website to archive the 4 tweet recommendations I have been making. I am happy so far with what I have made but it has not been the interactive experience I envisioned. I was hoping that my twitter followers would reach out to me with their other interests and that I could make recommendations for my followers; fostering a digital community and that that would, eventually, lead to community members contributing their own reviews and recommendations. I looked this week for texts with insight into making my twitter feed more engaging and interactive. Hoping to find some strategies to bolster the Graphic Novel Librarian community. I found three texts that provided the best advice for me:

Each of the articles shared their findings different ways. The 10 Twitter Tactics to Increase Your Engagement is produced by the Social Media Marketing Society as a compact and informative list of strategies with explanations of why they work. The Twitter Cheat Sheet is an infographic that is very engaging. Created by search engine optimization firm LinchpinSEO, the infographic provides a nice view of strategies that are similar to those from the Social Media Marketing Society and accessible for visual learners. Finally, A Scientific Guide provides the most in depth analysis of what make a successful tweet and provides not only general tips but also how to craft tweets for specific purposes and was written by social media blogger .

Each of these articles provided valuable advice for increasing followers and engagement for my twitter feed. To develop the community I have envisioned for Graphic Novel Librarian I decided to focus on incorporating the most common and/or powerful ideas from each text. I will apply these promotional tweets that I make between the standard my standard updates of 4 tweet graphic novel reviews, for the time being. The four strategies that stood out the most to me were:  

  1. Keep tweets short – shorter than the 140 allotted characters – this frees people to retweet you without needing to edit the tweet
  2. Tweets should come out often but not too often. Making sure you have a twitter presence most days keeps your account in your followers active memory but limiting tweets at at most two tweets a day keeps your account from becoming stale. Because of the size of my 4 tweet graphic novel reviews I am shooting for four tweeting periods a week – twice for 4 tweet reviews and twice for promotional tweets.  
  3. Ask for viewers specifically to retweet you or to mention you in their tweets and reward, these rewards could be public mentions or retweets, private thank you messages or even tangible rewards and prizes.
  4. Mentions, hashtags, and linked content such as video or blogs attract attention and increase engagement (retweets/likes). These tools, however, can interfere with each other if overused. Focusing on just one specific tool per tweet will keep viewer focus on your content and not overwhelm them with links, and more will make them more likely to retweet.

Here is my original promotional tweet, exactly 140 characters and no image:

“Tweet me your hobbies, likes/dislikes, preferences in literature and entertainment and I’ll personalize a #GraphicNovelReconedation for you!”

Here is my new promotional tweet:

“Tweet your interests, get a personalized #GraphicNovelRecommendation! Please retweet!”

Only 119 characters with a request for retweet and an image of the G_N_Librarian 4 tweet review banner (not pictured)!

Please check out my digital story and let me know what you think, also please send me a tweet with your interests so that I can craft a digital comic review for you! AND be awesome and retweet my promotional tweets.

Supporting the mission of my Digital Story – A Response to Chosen Text Week 15

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


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 –


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.

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

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


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


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

The Bee’s Knees – Response to Scholarly Text week 8


Found my scholarly text for this week in the College Research Library News. I was looking for research about using comics for teaching in specific disciplines. I had been searching for comics applied to science instruction, in particular. I had originally not expected much from John Meier’s article Science Graphic Novels for Academic Libraries but I am glad that I decided to give it a try. Meier’s piece has an interesting introduction outlining the current state of university library collections of comics and graphic novels and reveals the better funded institutions have greater collections of comics then under funded institutions.

The heart of Meier’s article, however, is an interview with Jay Hosler. Who iclan apiss a researcher at Juniata College, and a graphic novelist. I know his work from the amazing piece Clan Apis which is the story of a the two honey bees and their hive. This graphic novel full of facts about bees, life in the hive and photo realistic illustrations and diagrams. But it is science fiction and the story of the relationship between the main characters is heartwarming and full of depth, intrigue and character development. I love this graphic novel and have used it in my instruction with fifth graders.

Hosler has lots of great things about comics and using them for teaching science. There were three quotations that stood out to me as being the most influential ideas Hosler shares.

On the power of images in a comic Hosler said: “You get to see the other person’s thoughts, and I think that is the magic of a graphic novel.” This concept of seeing the thoughts of the artist in a comic lets the creator of the comic show the narrative to the reader and then use text to verify the meaning of images.

On the balance between text and images in a comic: “A balance must be struck between the two with word and pictures doing different things.” By having both text and images in a comic each can be used to accomplish the specific storytelling tasks that each is best suited for.

On why to use comics in science instruction: “I . . . write a comics story and embed a graph . . . it’s not disjointed, it’s there. There is no way you can just move on to the next panel. You can’t skip a panel any more than you can skip a paragraph. Because it’s right there. The characters are walking over, around, and on the graph.” Also incorporating an engaging narrative draws in the learners into the story and if the facts are embedded in that narrative then the students will be actively engaged in their learning.

The Bee’s Knees – Response to Scholarly Text week 8

How To Use Comics in Your Classroom – A Response to Chosen Text


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.

How To Use Comics in Your Classroom – A Response to Chosen Text

Well I Would Have Never Thought of That – A Response to ‘So You Want to be a Superhero?’

“An after-school comics class can give young people the opportunity to enhance, develop, and strengthen the skills they learn in school while engaging them in various kinds of literacy work” (Khurana, page 2).

I was drawn to Sarita Khurana’s piece, So You Want to be a Superhero? because it introduces a very interesting direction that I could take my comic and digital story telling inquiries in – the development an after-school program, hosed in an virtual learning environment focused on literacy development thought the digital comic medium. I had been thinking about comics with an eye to my classroom instruction but there seems to be a freedom in taking comics out of the classroom. An after-school program generality does not have the same lofty academic expectations then those in a classroom and so it should be easier to convincing the powers be of the value of comics. To be seen as a success the program just needs to be popular with students and provide the opportunity to practice skills learned in school. A virtual comic book club could be successful in both ways and I think that critics with low exceptions would be surprised by high leaves of academic rigor and higher level thinking skills supported by such a program. Which is the same point that Khurana is making about the in-person comic production class she describes at School of the Future in New York City, that she describes in the article.

The majority of Khurana’s article focuses on the ways comic production in the after-school program support children’s development. There are two strong reasons to support student development with comics in this article that resonate with me. First students had a chance to practice and apply the writing skills needed to develop both character and story arcs (p5). Students must understand how their character’s motivations, how characters act on those motivation, and how character actions move the story’s plot. Second the development of comic characters allowed young adults to experiment with adult social roles and decision making (p8), which is a healthy part of human social development.

I see the value in an after-school program the focuses on the production of comic for the reasons Khurana outlines but I would personally develop a program that focused more on the reading of comics and using comics to develop reading comprehension. Though Khurana does not directly speak to using comics to develop reading comprehension a personal account of how a student started reading comics is included which demonstrates the power of comics to bridge student interests and reading. “When I asked Hassan how long he’d been reading comics, he said that he’d been into comics since he was five: “Yeah, I used to play lots of video games and my dad wanted me to learn to read so he gave me comic books to read like the original Batman and Superman.… That helped me be more interested in reading and give it a try” (p6).

I am very happy to have found this work by Khurana. It has giving me a lot to think about with the direction of my digital comic query. But mostly it has given me ammunition for my argument of why comics and graphic novels have a place in New Literacy education.

Well I Would Have Never Thought of That – A Response to ‘So You Want to be a Superhero?’