Final Comic Strip by Noah Kastner
As a child, I learned to read quite late. I always loved books with pictures and would relish through the pictures while making up my own stories, which may have had something to do with why my inability to read was overlooked by both my teachers and parents. When, at last, my secret was discovered my parents moved me into a different school, with a better reputation, where I quickly learned to read; but still had a hard time to read without my mind wandering off into a fantasy world. At this same time I had a wonderful teacher who embraced my love of drawing and creativity. She was always giving me important jobs that allowed me to put these skills to use. It was in this school year that I turned around as a student. I went from just getting by to becoming an honor roll student. This teacher valued my strengths which helped me to embrace them and recognize that they had a place in the classroom.
I have always used art as a catalyst to aid my ability to fully understand and connect with other school subjects. All of my book reports were turned in with pictures, whether it was required or not. I drew pictures to represent math concepts and created elaborate medical illustrations that were utilized by biology classes. I loved my Chemistry class because I had a teacher who was constantly drawing on the board as he explained how reactions occurred.
Art can stand alone. It has a purpose within itself, but it can also serve as a valuable tool that can be used to support one’s ability to comprehend other concepts. I get all kinds of students in my art classes. Some who love art so much that they probably don’t even need an art class for their passion to flourish, then I get those who kind of identify with art but don’t really consider it very important, and I also get students who have no interest in art at all but somehow wind up in my class. I make it my mission to help each of these students discover how art can take many forms and serve many purposes, even theirs. Once someone has discovered this intimate connection to art they can’t help but enjoy it.
As we all know, literacy is an essential part of communication. I think that online learning accentuates this. Students have had to rely on their ability to read and write more this year than ever before. They haven’t been able to just walk up to their teachers and ask a question, they have to send an email, and if they haven’t clearly communicated their question in that email their teacher is likely to respond with another question which would then require them to further articulate what they are trying to say and so on. As difficult and as frustrating as this has been at times, I believe that a lot of learning has been taking place.
I chose the “Visual Language & Comic Strips” project as a way to further support our students’ need to improve their Language Arts Skills. In this project students learn a lot about story structure and how to break it down into simple steps that can be used to help them tell their own stories in both words and pictures. We also delved deeply into character development. I felt that this aspect of the storytelling process was especially helpful during this emotionally trying time. Students were encouraged to self reflect and develop their ability to observe, interpret and gain an understanding of other people’s feelings, differences and similarities during a time when emotions were heightened and inner strength was needed.
I have been thrilled at the results that I have been accumulating from the comic strip projects. When I compare the initial sketches that I received at the beginning to the final outcomes it is undeniable that learning, in a great variety of areas, has taken place. The results show the students’ improved understanding of how stories are structured, how unique characters are manifested and conveyed, and how dialogue and images can enhance and embellish a story.
Article Written by Christine Norton
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Written by Christine Norton