I have to admit when I read the syllabus for our class and saw that graphic novels was one of the focuses for the class I was a bit reluctant. I have never engaged in the reading of graphic novels and have never used them in the classroom. I have also never seen a classroom where graphic novels have been used. After ordering the books and looking through the texts, I started to notice that they were not like the graphic novels that I had predicted. These novels were engaging, creative and had themes that were noticed during the flipping of the pages.
As we started reading through the texts, I started to think about the format as a template I could use in the classroom. All the discussions around the graphic novels led me to notice how engaged students could be in this new format compared to the old plan writing paper that we use each and every day.
I started to look for different templates that could be used and came across the following free versions on Teachers Pay Teachers (tpt.com).
Before starting to use the templates, I read the book Binky the Space Cat on Epic Books. We then discussed how the book was different to the traditional books that we had read at the beginning of the year. The students pointed out the speech bubbles and the different ways the author had written the story.
When I introduced the templates my students were VERY excited about the possibility of drawing their thoughts and then adding the writing. We discussed how to use the templates and then the students were able to make their own choices on how to show the topic. We have used a variety of templates for different activities.
The activities included:
- Writing about our number hunt
- Writing about the 5 senses
- Retelling a story
- Writing a How-To text
- Writing about our birthdays → which turned into writing a story about friends at their birthdays
See the examples below that showcase the different graphic novel templates that my students have completed so far this year.
My thinking of student work and expectations have shifted since reading the graphic novels. I have become more open to different options of writing and ways for my students to show their learning. I have also tried to incorporate writing into a variety of activities to show that writing can be part of any activity. I am proud to say that I have not pulled out one graphic organizer or planned writing from last year, but rather I have used my students interests to lead the writing activities.
In return my students have become more excited about showing what they know and working on their writing pieces. They are excited to write, love the choices of different graphic templates and they are more engaged as a community. I love listening to their conversations as they explain their thinking to their peers, ask questions about the different parts of the writing and then give each other positive feedback. I know that I only work with a group of 6 children, but the love and joy they have for these activities makes me want to explore more ways to incorporate these activities into our lessons.