Target Audience: 6th grade students in media center orientation at Columbia Middle School
Instructional Design Process: The ADDIE Model
Learning Objective: Students will understand the policies and expectations of the middle school media center.
Moving from elementary to middle school is a very challenging time for students. Not only are sixth graders expected to navigate a more complex environment than in elementary school, the expectations for self-regulation and organization are also much greater. By laying out the steps necessary to successfully adhere to the media center’s expectations, students gain a general understanding of the value of its many resources.
By sixth grade students should have gained the maturity to attend to a short PowerPoint presentation consisting of basic information on a given subject. To assist in this effort, students are given a word web with instructions to fill in each “bubble” with the major points of the presentation. They will view the comic strip under the slide on “Edible Expectations in the Media Center.” This format will add a more engaging visual component to the presentation, helping students understand, retain, and glean meaning while demonstrating the main point being discussed.
Working in concert with the classroom teacher, student understanding is assessed informally as we circulate viewing students’ word webs. A more concrete assessment will be gained as students pair up to complete the scavenger hunt handout at the conclusion of the presentation.
Using the format of six (6) symmetrical panels, I created a storyboard to sketch out the ideas to be communicated in the comic strip. This use of the principle of balance helps to stabilize the eye as it travels from one word bubble to another. The cropping of the image of the students heading further into the media center stacks demonstrates the principle of movement through the diagonal of the shelves pointing inward toward the back wall. The image of the tight shelving where the student is vacuuming books seeks to create an air of foreboding helping to bolster my attempt at cautionary storytelling.
I have to admit that up until two or three years ago, I held a very dim view of comics, cartoons, and graphic novels as teaching tools. My frame of reference was mainly reading the Sunday comics one day, and seeing them wrapping fish the next. With comic books, however, my opinion rises to the level of valued first editions and collectibles preserved in pristine condition, as an example of cultural representations of a time period, or a specific type of artwork. I just never thought of them as instructional tools, until I noticed the growing number of articles reviewing graphic novels and comics as tools for snaring reluctant readers. Today, our library has examples of this “sequential art form” throughout the collection.
This assignment gave me a new level of respect for those who create comics, cartoons and graphic novels. It takes an enormous amount of time, patience, and discipline to create something that educates as it stylistically illustrates a storyline. As a result of this assignment I had the courage to work with Ms. Glancy’s sixth grade class to create a comic strip of their own this past semester. I shared several different online tools from this assignment with her class and the students loved it. One of her most difficult groups of students came in to work me on creating a comic based on the Underground Railroad and several other historical events. They were all so proud at the end of their time working and publishing their comics. We used Comic Life and Toondoo, as well as several other sites to create their final products. The impact was immediate and I look forward to continuing to use these tools with my students.