Studying comics and setting students up to be thoughtful and creative composers

Teachers, Profs, Parents: Writers Who Care

by Ashley K. Dallacqua, PhD

As a small group of seventh-grade students sit down to a working lunch, they immediately peer over each other’s shoulders, admiring the work on the desks. Walking by the room one might see students hunched over paper with colored pencils or pointing at another’s work exclaiming “Oh wow!,” “I like that too!,” “How long did that take you?,” or “I like your faces!” There is an energy to their composition practices and a thoughtful and supportive attention to detail. During a year-long inquiry around comics and graphic novels, these students were invited, regularly, to be composers. As they worked to create both informative and aesthetic comics responses, students made choices as writers and as artists. This was work that students valued. As one middle school student shared with me, reading and composing comics “was like a weight off of my shoulders to be able to…

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