Thursday, January 24, 2008

Comics In The Classroom

brian lehrer on wnyc had a show about comics in the classroom a few weeks ago. I used part of the interview and combined it from some of the comic images from the linked site at Columbia. Here's part of an article about the topic from beth fertig that was written in 2004
Comic books are a rite of passage for most kids. But one local educator also thinks they have potential "superpowers" for learning. The Comic Book Project is an after school program that's trying to improve literacy by teaching kids to make their own comics. WNYC's Beth Fertig has more.
Some kids love comic books. Others are inspired by them. Those are the kids who have joined the Comic Book Club at Martin Luther King High School in Manhattan. Sixteen-year old Angel Terry is pretty typical.
JURY: I like to draw a lot and this place has a lot of funny people that like to draw, too.
Angel – or Jury as her friends call her – has notebooks filled with her own comic strips. Her friends pour through them, looking to find themselves.
SAYURI: She draws us as characters. For some reason she gave my character bangs.
That's 10th grader Lauren Garcia. She calls herself Sayuri, after the title character in her favorite novel "Memoirs of a Geisha." These kids love anything Japanese – largely because of the Japanese comics, or manga. They adore the luscious graphics and wide-eyed characters that morph into unworldly beings. Jury's comics have the same fluid look. But her stories are definitely hinged in her world.
JURY: This is one of them.
Her latest comic is about a slumber party with her friends.
JURY: That's me on my little backwards phone. See, that's Sayuri. That's Imani. She’s getting mad at us because we're ordering Chinese food and it's like one in the morning.
Most of the students, like Jury, came here to draw. But the Comic Book Project is also about encouraging them to write, says founder Michael Bitz.
BITZ: It's something they want to do because it's their media.

Bitz is a research associate at Teachers College at Columbia University. A few years ago he was studying the role of the arts in education.

BITZ: The arts content and the academic content had to be clearly tied together. And there’s no where else in the area of literacy where words and art are so naturally wedded as in a comic book.

Bitz started his first comic book club at a Queens elementary school in 2001. Since then his project has been adopted by 45 schools, with funding from the After School Corporation and community based organizations. Baltimore, Chicago, and Cleveland, among other cities, have adopted the program.

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