Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing

Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing

by Steve Bowkett


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Using Comic Art to Improve Speaking, Reading and Writing uses children's interest in pictures, comics and graphic novels as a way of developing their creative writing abilities, reading skills and oracy. The book's underpinning strategy is the use of comic art images as a visual analogue to help children generate, organise and refine their ideas when writing and talking about text.

In reading comic books children are engaging with highly complex and structured narrative forms. Whether they realise it or not, their emergent visual literacy promotes thinking skills and develops wider metacognitive abilities. Using Comic Art not only motivates children to read more widely, but also enables them to enjoy a richer imagined world when reading comics, text based stories and their own written work.

The book sets out a range of practical techniques and activities which focus on various aspects of narrative, including:

  • using comic art as a visual organiser for planning writing
  • openings and endings
  • identifying with the reader, using different genres and developing characters
  • creating pace, drama, tension and anticipation
  • includes 'Kapow!' techniques to kick start lessons
  • an afterword on the learning value of comics.

The activities in Using Comic Art start from this baseline of confident and competent comic-book readers, and show how skills they already possess can be transferred to a range of writing tasks. For instance, the way the panels on a comic's page are arranged can serve as a template for organising paragraphs in a written story or a piece of non-fiction writing. The visual conventions of a graphic novel - the shape of speech bubbles or the way the reader's attention is directed - can inform children in the use of written dialogue and the inclusion of vivid and relevant details.

A creative and essential resource for every primary classroom, Using Comic Art is ideal for primary and secondary school teachers and TAs, as well as primary PGCE students and BEd, BA Primary Undergraduates.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780415675512
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Publication date: 02/16/2012
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 6.75(w) x 9.75(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

A former teacher, Steve Bowkett is now a full-time educational consultant, writer and storyteller. He is the author of more than forty books including Jumpstart! Creativity and Imagine That.

Table of Contents

Section 1 — Scene Setting and Story Structure. 1. Strong openings. Comic Art (CA) panels with dialogue to prompt further thinking. 2. Opening lines. What would the first few panels look like? 3. What do you want the reader to see? The artful use of a few small important details (SIDs). 4. What to put in, what to leave out. Learning brainstorming and association. Choosing details. 5. Directing the reader’s attention. CA panels used as a visual analogue to text. Imagining a CA page gives insights into structuring written scenes. 6. Scenario cards. CA panels / pages that set a scene and get the story moving. 7. Choice of words. Tips for effective writing — plain and simple, say what you want to say and no more etc. Ref stereotyping, exaggeration / superlatives. 8. Parts of speech. Linking the jobs words do with the above activities. Use strong and vivid PoS but don’t overwrite. Ref punctuation. 9. Connectives. Connectives as a ‘narrative glue’ to stick scenes together. 10. Don’t have an idea — have lots of ideas. Three statements, change one word or aspect (of a CA panel?) to suggest a different story. 11. The if-then game for creating many story ideas. 12. Scene changes. CA panels in short sequences to highlight the effects of connectives on the imagination. 13. Foreshadowing. Including a detail early on that becomes important later on. Ref a platform of reasons. Combine with if-then game (if an amulet appeared on page one, what might the consequences be at the climax / end of the story?) 14. Cliffhangers. Using CA panels to suggest cliffhangers and give practice in writing cliffhanger sentences. 15. Subplots. Simple subplotting techniques. CA techniques and conventions for blending subplots into the main story. 16. Flashbacks. Using ideas from subplotting to create flashbacks. 17. Drawing as a visual shorthand. Stories don’t have to be planned in words. Mix n match CA selection to create ‘plots in a nutshell’. 18. Storyboarding. Visual techniques for plotting narrative (Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos — also ref dialogue / writing frames). 19. Strong endings. CA panels to prompt vivid endings. Last-line examples. What would the CA panel look like? 20. Prompter sentence grid. 6x6 roll dice to choose a first sentence and a last sentence. Choose a sentence if stuck re plotting to suggest what might happen next. 21. Comic combos. A selection of CA scenes with gaps for writing. 22. A platform of reasons. Believable stories have an internal logic and consistency. Ref characters / staying in character, genre. Section 2 — Characters. 23. Creating quick characters. Character ticksheet. Coin flip game to ‘meet someone new’. 24. Character zoo. A selection of character faces. Think about their background, what role each would play in a story. What if two of these characters met? 25. Reading faces. Describing drawn faces / noticing details (ref SIDs). 26. I’m sorry. Say ‘I’m sorry’ with different facial expressions. How does voice tone alter with facial expression? Link to adverbs-for-feeling. 27. Don’t just stand there. Interpreting body posture. 28. Caricature. Sometimes caricature (using similes / exaggerations) can bring a character to life — but use sparingly. 29. Stereotyping. Stereotyping as a visual / written shorthand. ‘Toning down’ stereotyped characters. Making small but important changes to stereotyped characters. 30 .Dialogue. Use dialogue to establish / develop character, enhance the scene / atmosphere, move the story on. Ref CA conventions for dialogue. 31. What do I think? CA conventions for internal dialogue. Ref to first and third person writing. Section 3 — Pace and Atmosphere. 32. Zoom! CA conventions for changing pace, moving the eye quickly across the page. 33. Link the above with written techniques, ref. Connectives, strong verbs / adverbs and punctuation. 34. What’s the point? The value of punctuation to clarify meaning — a few quick activities on this. 35. In the mood. CA panels to suggest various moods, ref. to a few small details. Writing activities to practise this. 36. Action scenes. Consolidate several ideas previously visited. CA panels written up as brief action scenes. 37. Creating tension. Tips for doing this. Examples of CA plus written. Section 4 — Taking It Further. 38. Genre. CA panels to introduce conventions and motifs of some genres. 39. More on conventions of the genre — what we would ‘conventionally’ expect to find in certain genres. Activity: make a genre board to such conventions. 40 .More on motifs. Motifs defined as the details included in a story that defines and describes a genre. Ref details, dialogue. 41. Comic Art and non-fictional writing. Using drawing as a planning strategy for essays, news articles, argumentative / debate pieces. 42. CA and topic work. Using ‘the vocabulary of the subject’ and drawing techniques to explore topic areas. 43. Famous Artworks. Some tips linking ideas in Kapow with interpreting and discussing famous artworks. 44. Doorway into Text. Tips and activities linking ideas in Kapow with strategies for analysing and discussing text. 45. Tony’s writing frames. References / Bibliography / Index.

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