Archive for Pop Culture Classroom

Review of Beowulf by Gareth Hinds

 

By Erik Kallenborn

For the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to travel the country, speaking about the benefits of comics and graphic novels in the classroom, helping many teachers get started with the medium in their own classrooms along the way.

There are many roads that led to where the Comics Education Outreach is at this point in time, and a lot of our success comes from the partnership with Pop Culture Classroom; they saw and acknowledged our passion and were gracious enough to take us on as one of their many amazing programs. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention or give partial credit to Gareth Hinds’ version of Beowulf for our success as well.

Gareth Hinds’ amazing adaptation of the classic epic poem Beowulf has been a staple in my classroom for over five years, and my kids continue to find new aspects of the graphic novel to explore. My exploration of the relationship between reading time and assessment scoring even sparked a Chicago newspaper to cover a story about my usage of the graphic medium.

As teachers in a sea of sub-par classical adaptations, we have to find the gems. An adaptation of a long-taught classic that is engaging and relatable, Beowulf is a great translation and students dig it. The art and lack of text make this book work wonderfully in the classroom as an entryway into classic literature!

Using Beowulf In the Classroom

1.) Literary Analysis: While reading and discussing this title, students can engage in discussions on tone, mood, symbolism, pacing, plot, characterization, etc. If discussing character and author intent are your things, you need to teach this book; it has everything an English teacher needs.

2.) Art Analysis: The book is crafted in such a way that this title can also be an educator’s entryway into teaching the graphic novel medium. Along with the normal English classroom discussions going, you can layer discussions of color shift, graphic weight, panel layout, inference, etc. Add as much or as little as you like based on your conformability with comics and graphic novels. On his website, Hinds even provides sketches and a teacher’s guide as materials for classroom application.

 

3.) Engaging Different Types of Learners: Students can write about this title with as much familiarity and confidence as if they had read the classic epic poem. As someone that has used this book in an AP Literature class in which half of the students read the graphic novel, and half of the students read the adapted poem after which the graphic novel is created, I can say with certainty that, when the students write about the story, you will be hard-pressed to discover which student read which version.

 

4.) Text Pairing: If replacing the original text scares you or seems off-putting, pair them! Beowulf has the ability to be used as a paired text with the original version. Allow the images in the graphic novel to supplement the text and aid with understanding and comprehension. There are even some great essay prompts waiting to be created that will allow students to compare and contrast the text to the graphic novel, such as essays about characterization, Hinds’ edits, tone, and so on.

In Conclusion

If you are interested in learning more about the book and its classroom application, my fellow teacher Ronell Whitaker and I will be the Keynote speakers with Gareth Hinds at the closing of NCTE (National Council for Teachers of English) discussing our continued work with his books in our classrooms. It is a great honor to have been asked, and it will be an amazing opportunity to continue to speak about this fantastic book and its benefits to educators.

As you can see, there is a lot that any excited educator can do with this book. I implore you to check it out if you have not done so already. Let me know if you dig it, what you do with it, and how your kids like it. I wish you the best of luck and hope you see the success with this book in the classroom that I did!

 

Eric Kallenborn is a Chicago-based high school teacher and comic book aficionado. He can be contacted on social media @comics_teacher and over email at e.kallenborn@popcultureclassroom.org.


Denver Comic Con 2017 Education Wrap-Up! (Part 1)

At this year’s Denver Comic Con, Pop Culture Classroom celebrated diversity, fun and education through a variety of exciting and unique programming. Our guests, volunteers, students, teachers and programmers created and participated in a fantastic line up of education-focused activities and programs all throughout the weekend.

Here are some of our favorite highlights from the educational programming at this year’s Denver Comic Con. Enjoy!

The Expanded Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Lab Blasts into 2017

This year’s Pop Culture Classroom’s Kids’ Laboratory, our all-ages area on the show floor 100% dedicated to kids and teens, returned in 2017 with more space and activities than ever before!

As Director of Programming, Bruce MacIntosh explains, “The changes to the Kids Lab this year were a smashing success, as we added even more space to make it 10,000 square feet of events, panel and activities just for kids, including two large stages for guest speakers, the all-ages stage and the 8-Bit stage.”

Among the interactive activities this year were edible water bottles, pizza gardens and hand-made paper jewelry, helping engage kids with their community and the environment.

According to PCC Kids’ Lab Manager, Becky Franks-Cassidy, “This year, the focus of the Lab shifted to provide educational experiences that would empower tends and children to make a difference and think about how they can be super heroes in their own worlds…. And as always, almost all of our activities in the Lab fell under 2 letters of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math).”

As a bonus, the 8-Bit Stage and the All-Ages Stage brought kids face-to-face with professional creators, artists and scholars throughout the weekend, including everyone from NASA scientists to celebrity voice actors, allowing youths to be inspired in a more intimate venue and learn about careers in the sciences and arts.

A big thank you to all the guests who spent time speaking to kids and encouraging the next generation of creators!

Experience the Comix Brings in Most Kids Ever – For Free!

Experience the CoMix (ETC), sponsored by Illegal Pete’s, is Pop Culture Classroom’s annual program that provides middle and high school students from local schools and community organizations the opportunity to experience a day at Denver Comic Con – and all for free! For DCC’17, we were able to offer ETC passes to more students than ever before, with over 300 students attending.

This groundbreaking program provided these students time to interact with artists, authors, and other creators, attend panels, and learn first-hand what a career in pop culture might be like.

Students are also tasked with completing a scavenger hunt during the day, fueling their curiosity and encouraging them to visit areas of DCC they might otherwise miss. As a bonus, those who completed this “hunt” were rewarded with 3-day passes to let the fun continue through the weekend!

PCC’s Education Program Manager, Adam Kullberg, says that the ETC program “provides students from all different backgrounds the chance to really learn about what makes Denver Comic Con unique, and to engage one-on-one with these amazing artists and creators from all over the world.”

“Our ultimate hope for ETC is that the students return home with this realization that they really can take their hobbies, their talents and their natural creativity and turn them into something powerful that helps change their schools and communities for the better.”

PCC Announces All-New Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards

Announced at a special ceremony during DCC’17, the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards will launch in 2018 and aims to celebrate the best in fiction and non-fiction graphic novels, honoring the creators, publishers and educators using graphic literature to ignite a love of learning in classrooms worldwide.

“More than four years ago, we set out to establish a new class of awards that recognizes the best in graphic novel publishing, but that also supports and encourages the increasing use of graphic novels in the educational market,” says Illya Kowalchuk, director of education for Pop Culture Classroom.

“To do that, one of our biggest goals is to create a program that ultimately benefits educators, librarians and retailers, by shining a spotlight on the use of graphic literature to inspire students at every reading level,” adds Kowalchuk. “We are honored to have some of the greatest minds in the public library and school library systems contributing as advisors and judges, along with academic educators, K-12 specialists, and industry luminaries.”

Award categories for the inaugural year are planned to include Book of the Year, Best in Educational Comics, Best New Voice, Innovator Award, Diversity Award and more!

To be continued…

Review of Sisters

 

By Ronell Whitaker
Written & Art by Raina Telgemeier
Appropriate for grades: 2nd grade and up

 

Review

When I first read Raina Telgemeier’s 2010 graphic novel Smile, I had trouble relating. As a high school teacher, I couldn’t shake the fact that I was not the intended audience. “This is kids’ stuff,” I remember thinking to myself. And even though I read and liked the book, I still couldn’t shake the fact that maybe Telgemeier’s books just weren’t for me.

Until, that is, she wrote Sisters.

The second of Telgemeier’s graphic novel memoirs, Sisters – a New York Times bestseller and Eisner Award Winner – is a poignant and expertly told story about Telgemeier’s wish to be, and eventual regret at becoming, a big sister. Set during a weeklong drive from San Francisco to a family reunion Colorado Springs, Sisters invites readers into the humorous and often cringe-worthy intricacies of her family life and the bonds that form, break and then reform between them as a result.

As we travel with Telgemeier’s family, what really makes the book sing are the little familial moments to which any reader can relate: the annoyance of road tripping with a sibling; that one cool older family member you look up to; arguing over what fast food restaurant to eat at; even worrying about your parents’ marriage.

But perhaps what most helps this book go above and beyond the typical graphic memoir tropes is how fun, honest and full of heart it is. The writing is both accessible and engaging, which is important given the target demographic for this book of elementary and early middle schoolers.

In addition, Telgemeier’s art is clean and completely in service to the story. Think of it as a director who really wants the viewer to experience the story more than relying on visual flash to carry the film; that’s what she’s doing with this book. Both of these combined allow the reader to join this family on a journey that is simultaneously touching and hilarious.

Clearly, Sisters is a great comic for kids who don’t think they like comics, or don’t think comics are for them. Yet, what Sisters does well is tell a relatable story, and gives first time comics readers an easy entrance into the comics world.

In the Classroom

Creative Writing: Sisters would fit well with a memoir unit or as a mentor text for teaching students how to write their own memoirs. Using Telgemeier’s text as a guideline, students could tell their own stories about their family or experiences they’ve had on family trips.

Literary Analysis: There are also opportunities to discuss literary devices like flashback, foreshadowing, and the frame story. Students could analyze how the creator uses these devices to tell her story, and what effect it has on the narrative.

Thematic Connections: Although this is a book for younger kids, this might be a great place to start if you want to teach older students concepts like theme. Telgemeier’s books wear their themes on their sleeves, and this leads to a quick and easy way for kids to identify and analyze those themes in what they might consider a lower stakes text.

Conclusion

Never has the term “all ages” been more appropriate than with Sisters. Despite my early apprehension, the book is positively brimming with genuine laughs along with a good dose serious, poignant moments. My advice: Give this book a chance, you won’t regret it.

Still not sure? You can read the first seven pages of Sisters here and see for yourself!

Congratulations to the 2017 Con4aCause Sweepstakes Winners!

Because of your support of Denver Comic Con, we at Pop Culture Classroom are able to impact, inspire and educate children through our year-round educational programs and events. To thank you, our 2017 #Con4aCause sweepstakes gave those who entered a chance to WIN TWO ,THREE-DAY PASSES TO DCC FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS!

We were honored to receive thousands of entries across the Con4aCause website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but alas we could only pick three lucky winners. Please watch Illya’s latest video below, congratulating the Grand Prize winners and giving a HUGE thank you to everyone who submitted entries this year – you are all superheroes!

We plan to be back with a new sweepstakes in 2018, so please keep a close eye on the Denver Comic Con and Pop Culture Classroom social channels as we approach next year’s con! 


THE 2017 CON4ACAUSE GRAND PRIZE WINNERS

Hannah G. (Instagram)

Con4aCause Winner - Hannah G.

Toby H. (Facebook)

Con4aCause Winners - Tony H

Annaliese R. (Twitter)

Con4aCause Winnner - Annaliese R.

 

 


Up, Up and Away: Innovative Comics Leap Across Content Areas

At Pop Culture Classroom, one of our primary missions is to show that comics and graphic novels are more than superheroes in tights and capes. We believe comics transcend their typical associations as “lowbrow” or “simplistic” texts, offering educators new and unexpected ways to engage students in difficult subjects and content areas.

Whether you’re looking to supplement a math, science, English, social studies or civics lesson, the comic books and graphic novels listed below are perfect ways to liven up your classroom and capture the attention of struggling or disengaged students.

 

Math-Based Comics

Imagine learning math with the help of comics – how much more fun would that be? As Gene Yang has found, transferring his math lesson plans into comic form made them easier to understand.

Yang’s book Secret Coders combines adventure and mystery with the complicated world of computer coding, making these concepts easy and fun to learn for students. Students are able to slow down and reread parts they need help with and enjoy having pictures to accompany the explanations of concepts.

Likewise, Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth by Apostolos Doxiadis looks at the logical foundations of mathematics, inspiring a love for the subject that extends past the pure arithmetic side of the subject. Other math related comics include Manga Math Mysteries by math teacher Melinda Thielbar and Math by Simon Basher.

 

Science-Based Comics

Science classrooms can similarly benefit from comics being brought into the classroom. Studies show that “comic book stories lose nothing to traditional textbooks while having the added potential benefit of improving attitudes” about science. For example, the graphic novel Last of the Sandwalkers by Jay Hosler combines a suspenseful adventure with principles of scientific inquiry and lots of cool bug facts.

Likewise, Trinity, by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm is a historical graphic narrative of the creation of the first atomic bomb. Scientific concepts like nuclear fission are explained while contextualizing them in history, making the learning relevant for students.

Finally, T-minus: The Race to the Moon by Jim Ottaviani describes the race and the people that made it happen. The Max Axiom, Super Scientist series has many titles from various authors about everything from sound to magnetism to photosynthesis. And Charles Darwin’s on the Origin of the Species: a Graphic Adaption by Michael Keller makes the stuffy old text fun and colorful.

 

Literature-Based Comics

Introducing students to the traditional literary cannon isn’t easy either. How many of us in school struggled through novels like those of Jane Austen or Shakespeare’s plays? It’s way more fun to read about Austen’s England if there are visual representations of the time period alongside the narratives.

Nancy Butler’s adaption of Pride and Prejudice is true to the original text while including pictures to motivate reading and explain intricacies. No Fear Shakespeare also has a graphic novel collection of Shakespeare’s works, adapted to make the language understandable and includes illustrations to help explain the oblique plot points of his plays.

As an added perk, comic books frequently use a higher than average vocabulary. As one study found, comic books average 53.5 rare words per thousand, while children’s books average 30.9 and adult books average 52.7. This means, alongside increased engagement with a character and plot, students can often enhance vocabulary and language skills from comic book versions of their favorite tales.

 

Civics-Based Comics

Learning about social justice issues is made fun when there is an engaging story line combined with pictures to break down complicated concepts. Congressman John Lewis has spoken about how a comic book inspired him to learn more about the early days of civil rights and from there engage in activism himself. He has teamed up with Andrew Aydin to create his own comic book series March, inspiring the next generation of social activists.

Persepolis is a graphic autobiography by Marjane Satrapi depicting her childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution. She confronts Iran’s political past and cultural identity with simple drawings and concise text.

Additionally, the graphic novel Tomboy by Liz Prince confronts gender role construction and the implication of what it means to be a girl in a way that is pictorialized to reflect gender expressions. Other graphic novels that touch on complex social issues include The Silence of our Friends, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, and Hiroshima: The Autobiography of Barefoot Jen.

 

In Conclusion

In each of these subjects, comics prove to be engaging and valuable for use in the classroom. Math is made more fun and easier to understand. Scientific processes are tied to narratives for engagement. Comic books can increase vocabulary and encourage familiarity with the literary cannon. And social justice issues are easily introduced within the comic medium.

Comics aren’t just about superheroes. For educators, comics can transcend these low-brow associations and become useful, even invaluable, tools that spice up your classroom, increase student engagement, and help struggling students better connect to difficult topics and subjects.

Introducing #Con4aCause – Thank You For Being Awesome

Surprise! You’re a Superhero!

Thanks to your support of Denver Comic Con, we are able to impact, inspire and educate children through our year-round educational programs and events. To thank you, we’re offering you a chance to WIN FREE DCC PASSES FOR FIVE YEARS!

Watch the video below to learn all about it, then visit www.con4acause.com and enter to win! And remember, you’re also entered each time you include #Con4aCause in a social post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!


Full Lineup of Education Panels at DCC’17 Available!

Denver Comic Con 2017 is just around the corner! This year we have over 250 hours of education-based panels focusing on everything from teaching with cosplay to using board games in your classroom to engaging students with independent films, and so much more! These panels are all part of our overall nonprofit educational mission: to use pop culture to educate, inspire and engage students and teachers everywhere! 

To help you keep track of these exciting opportunities, we have compiled a full list of these education panels at the Con at the link below. 

www.popcultureclassroom.org/dcc/education

But wait, there’s more! At this link, and to further help you plan your DCC weekend, we have also created a list of interest tracks, which divide the education panels into seven categories:

  • Art, Diversity/Gender Issues
  • Film/Television
  • Gaming/Technology, Science
  • Teaching/Pedagogy
  • Writing/Literature

We have also included a Panel Tracking sheet, which is designed to help you easily keep track of all the educational panels you attended in a simple, organized way.

For easy access to these panels leading up to and during the event, we also encourage you to download the all-new Pop Culture Classroom app. You can use this to create a schedule of panels to attend and receive advance reminders about events and activities, as well as stay updated on any scheduling changes that may occur, as all panel times and locations are subject to change.

Finally, we offer ALL educators the chance to receive a certificate for panel hours attended at DCC. All you need to do is send a scanned version of your completed Panel Tracking Sheet into education@popcultureclassroom.org by July 7th, 2017. We will send you a certificate that you can provide to your schools and/or program for recertification/professional development hours.

Our unique approach to supporting educators and innovating education is part of what makes Denver Comic Con special each year. We can’t wait to celebrate another stellar year with you, and we hope these panels


Costume Creation and Denver Comic Con Inspiring Youth

Layne calls the Gold Crown Clubhouse home. Now 18, he’s been going since 5th or 6th grade, and despite the many personal challenges he has had to overcome in his life he always finds time to drop by. A huge fan of action movies, Layne has been hard at work building a Deadshot costume for Denver Comic Con. Clubhouse members like Layne at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center @ Gold Crown (BBTTC) in Lakewood have been hard at work every Thursday making their own cosplay costumes to get ready for Denver Comic Con.

This clubhouse is an enrichment program part of the Gold Crown Foundation, (GCF) which provides rich, interest based instruction and mentoring for hundreds of kids ages 10-18. They help underserved area youth discover their talents, strengths and hope for the future by providing creative opportunities and supportive staff in a safe and exciting environment.

Denver Comic Con and pop culture incentivize these clubhouse members. The mission of the Gold Crown Clubhouse is to learn through fun, hands on and creative ways, and what’s more fun than creating a costume based on your favorite pop culture character as a way of earning a chance to show it off at a comic con? Members are able to learn about overcoming difficulties and following through with a long term project, with the reward of a visit to Denver Comic Con the ultimate inspiration.

Youth learn best when they can express themselves independently in a variety of mediums, and the process of costume creation fits perfectly into this model. Members first go through a planning process, picking the character they want to see come to life. Then they are able to put their drawing skills to work, sketching the designs necessary for creation. They set goals, gather materials and build their pieces. Materials like foam are transformed through finishing techniques to look like metal, yarn is used to make a tail. Members learn new skills which empower and inspire. Creating a cosplay costume based on pop culture introduces members to whole new skill sets, expanding their creativity and learning organically.

Pop Culture Classroom and DCC are dedicated to inspiring a love of learning and building community through the tools of popular culture and the power of self-expression. We are thrilled that something like comic con has become such a large motivation for these clubhouse members to stick to a project and expand their skill sets.

Cassandra Rivera, Mentor Coordinator for the Clubhouse said, “As a result of the cosplay challenge I’d say that Layne, as well as other members, are learning how to be more resilient with the projects they start. Instead of just giving up when they encounter an obstacle they’re actually motivated to push on and make their costumes the very best they can be.”

By participating every Thursday in the Comic Con Cosplay Club at the Clubhouse and finishing their costume, nine clubhouse members of the club will get to attend the con. Look out for some of these awesome handmade costumes when you’re at DCC this summer!


The 2017 PCC Kids’ Lab Welcomes Community Orgs to the Floor!

What’s the coolest place at Denver Comic Con 2017 for families? The 10,000 square foot Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Laboratory of course!

This year the PCC Kids’ Lab is back, each day bringing a full slate of fun, interactive and engaging activities for kiddos of all ages and interests to the show floor. This year’s theme is You Can Make a Difference, and we’re welcoming even more local community organizations and artists to help us inspire children to make a difference in their community.

These organizations and artists volunteer their time to be a part of the great cause of using pop culture as a tool in education, from promoting illustration in comic books to providing technology to empower kids to make their own media.

Take a look at all the awesome organizations offering fun, interactive activities and be sure to stop by and visit them at the Kids’ Lab during this year’s Con!


Community Organizations to Visit at the 2017 Kids’ Lab

DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture ClassroomRed Team Go

This is Red Team Go’s second year in the lab. They are a collective of local artists focusing on the comic book, anime and illustration and will be hanging out and providing sketches, zombie makeup, as well as contributing to some great panels. 


DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture Classroom

Jackman Brothers Productions

Jackman Brothers have been bringing smiles to families’ faces since year 1 of DCC. They bring their A-game with balloon twisting, face painting and the friendliest personalities in the state of Colorado. Not only do they donate their time, but they donate their tips to Pop Culture Classroom to support out initiatives.


DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture Classroom

The CoMMiES

The Colorado Modeling Militia Enjoying Sci-Fi (CoMMiES) will be back for their fourth year! They will be bringing paper make-and-take models for attendees to engineer. After you are done creating, you can take it to our local ASIFA to do some stop motion animation.


DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture ClassroomColorado Symphony Orchestra

Once again, our friends at the CSO will be joining us at a table all weekend. They bring funky instruments, fun activities and professional musicians to wow attendees with musical nerdy fun.


DCC'17 Kids Lab - Pop Culture ClassroomDenver Open Media

This year we would like to welcome Denver Open Media, who throughout the year works with PCC to offer educational programming for local youth. They are dedicated to putting the power of the media in the hands of the community and providing technology resources. This year, they will have a spot in the Lab to teach attendees how to be a media maker!


Don’t Miss Out on the Best Kids’ Lab Yet! 

All of these great organizations and artists plus many more will be making the Lab a fantastic part of your Comic Con weekend. We feel that being a part of the community is how we can make change, and we are thankful for the support of everyone. Stop by the Lab with your family for some nerdy and educational fun!

If you haven’t bought tickets yet visit here to be a part of the hottest event of the summer!


DCC’17 PSA: 5 Reasons to Buy Your Tickets Online Instead of at the Door

Yes, you can buy tickets at the door, but why go through all the extra time, hassle and cost? Even if you buy your tickets the same day you plan to arrive, it will still be easier, faster and cheaper than buying at the door.

1. It’s Cheaper

No matter when you buy them, even if it’s the same day as you plan to attend, tickets cost $10 less online than at the door.  Why not save a few dollars?

2. Save Time When You Arrive

Typically the lines to buy tickets onsite are much longer than the lines to exchange your pre-purchased e-ticket for a badge. Get in faster by purchasing online and printing your e-ticket before you arrive. You can even exchange your e-ticket starting on Thursday before the con so you can arrive on your day, ready to go!

3. Avoid a Sellout

We do NOT hold/reserve tickets for onsite purchase. Meaning, if tickets sell out online before the day you arrive, you will NOT be able to purchase tickets at the door for that day. Speed Passes and 3-days are already gone. Saturday tickets are moving fast.

4. Added Convenience

It might go without saying, but buying tickets online is usually more convenient since you can purchase when you choose, plan your arrival time more carefully, and have confidence there will be fewer surprises when you get onsite.

5. If You Have an Issue, You’re Already in the System

If for some reason you need to make adjustments to the number in your party of have any other issues with your ticket, ordering online allows you to get the help you need faster because you’ll already be in the system and have an order number.