Archive for The Classroom – Page 2

American Born Chinese, Review

 

By Michael Gianfrancesco

 

REVIEW

The brainchild and signature book of author/artist Gene Yang, the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, the graphic novel American Born Chinese has won its share of awards. For students and educators alike, the novel offers a wonderful story that touches on many common themes, motifs and content areas while providing students opportunities to engage in critical analysis and self-examination within your classroom.

The novel contains three stories that begin separately, intertwine throughout the book, and eventually converge at the end, bringing all the themes together into a single resolution.

The first story introduced is that of the Monkey King of Chinese legend and his quest for respect and humility.

The second is about a young boy named Jin Wang and his struggle to be accepted as one of few Asian students in a primarily white school.

And the third is a pseudo sitcom featuring Danny and his (offensive) Chinese stereotype of a cousin Chin-Kee.

Without giving too much away, American Born Chinese finds its way to a compromise for all the characters and offers surprising twists, particularly in terms of how the three stories unite into one in the last chapter. Each story has its own compelling characters, a focus on the ups and downs of culture traditions, and a need to forge a path that includes, but is not dominated by, familial heritage.

The characters learn that, while we are at least partially defined by our cultural traditions and upbringing, it just one component of who we are. Likewise, we cannot ignore our heritage, no matter how much we wish we could. The characters are forced to find a balance between their personal desires to be like everyone else and their Chinese ancestries, or, in the case of the Monkey King, his species.

The book is colorfully illustrated and draws on religious and spiritual iconography, particularly when following the Monkey King’s story. Though sometimes jarring, the transitions between each individual tale are well crafted and readers will find themselves moving quickly from one page to the next.

IN THE CLASSROOM

Educators will want to pace their students to ensure that they are spending as much time analyzing the artwork and the subtleties of what Yang is “showing” as they are on reading what he is “telling.” Some potential uses in the classroom include:

  • Talk about the themes of heritage and culture. Have your students create minicomics or short stories that explode a cultural moment in their lives. Have them share them with the class and create a sort of “international week” out of the unit.
  • The theme of identity is very strong in this novel. In particular, the book talks about changing the way you look in order to either set yourself apart or to hide within a sea of identical faces. This could be a part of a sociology unit where the class discusses what happens when you cannot hide how you look (unlike the characters in the novel who literally change their physical appearances) and must face the potential discrimination on the basis of the way you look.
  • The character of Chin-Kee is an offensive stereotype of someone of Chinese descent. This can spawn conversation about parody and the nature of exposing ignorance through the use of a stereotyped character or situation. Have them debate the appropriateness of Chin-Kee and discuss how and why this character exists in the novel and what Yang is trying to say through his presence.
  • Have students research the Chinese Gods featured in the novel or, alternately, you can assign other ancient mythological deities (Norse, Roman, Greek, Egyptian) and have students create a story or comic featuring characters derived from those sources and include how they might interact with modern humans.
  • Pair this text with YA novels like the Percy Jackson series that utilize ancient gods in a similar manner. Have students compare/contrast the authors’ choices in each work.

IN CONCLUSION

American Born Chinese is a relevant and poignant story about personal understanding that does not pull its punches when it comes to taking on racist concepts levied against those of Asian descent. The novel exposes these stereotypes and forces the reader to confront their own conscious or unconscious prejudices, while at the same time offering an empathetic view for anyone who might feel that their culture has made them a target.

Though it may seem simple in nature, Gene Yang’s expertly crafted graphic novel takes on these complicated themes masterfully and offers a thought provoking narrative which will certainly offer you and your students plenty to talk about.

 

All images (c) Gene Luen Yang.

Comics and Reluctant Learners: Dispelling the Myths

 

By Michael Gianfrancesco

 

I have been doing this whole “teaching with comics” thing for nearly 15 years and I am fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with teachers all over the country. During panels and workshops, I find that I often hear (or overhear) a specific remark: “I love these books. They’re great for my reluctant readers.”

When I hear teachers say things like this, or that comics are only for the “kids who don’t like to read,” I feel they’re buying into a common myth: that reluctant readers are the only ones who can benefit from comics. While it’s true that comics and graphic novels do work well with reluctant readers, that’s precisely because they work well with nearly all readers. Rather than relegated to only the most struggling students, comics can be useful – even invaluable – for elementary all the way up to College Preparatory or even Advanced Placement classes, offering up countless opportunities for teachers and administrators to better engage their students.

For my part, I use comics with all my students who vary in gender, age, and academic performance – from reluctant to engaged and everything in between. Of course, curation is key here. Should you decided to take on the challenge and joy of teaching with comics in your classroom, it is important to understand what titles you have to choose from and the complexity level of these texts – particularly if you are not familiar with them – as some of them are every bit as complex as their chapter-based counterparts. For example, while I’d avoid handing a difficult book like Maus or Persepolis to a student who struggles with reading, I would also be hesitant to hand an elementary-level Smile to an 11th or 12th grade honors or college prep group.

See, that’s the rub! With the diverse range of comics available today, it’s hard to know exactly what works best for your students – especially if you’re new to comics. To help, I have taken the liberty of listing some great examples below, along with a few of the themes that the texts take on to help you decide how to work them into your curriculum:

 

Elementary/Middle School Level:

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

 
An emotional coming of age story about trust, betrayal and acceptance of fate.

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

 
A fantasy epic which explores the concepts of responsibility, reaching one’s potential, and understanding what family is really all about.

The Eternal Smile or American Born Chinese by Gene Yang

 
Three short stories which shatter the concepts of identity, reality, and the ability to be satisfied with our lives.

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook  by Eleanor Davis

 
Illustrates the importance of critical thinking, teamwork and understanding of natural laws to solve practical problems.

Astronaut Academy (Series) by Dave Roman


Lots of short attention span stories that tie together into a larger narrative that explores emotion, science and self-awareness.

The Human Body Theatre by Maris Wicks


All of the systems of the human body join readers on stage in a comical and scientifically accurate exploration of anatomy.

Smile or Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

 
True stories of the author’s life which explore family, friendship, growth and the challenges of passing from one stage of life to another.

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova


Trying to connect to others and maintain some sort of identity amongst peers is the biggest challenge the characters face here.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

 
The story of a long-standing rivalry between a hero and a villain that blurs the line of what is bad and what is good.

 

High School Level:

Maus by Art Speigelman

 
The true story of a couple who survived Auschwitz told through the eyes of the son of the survivors. Pain, loss, survival and redemption are just a few of the themes explored.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

 
Satrapi’s real life experiences growing up in Iran and Europe during and after the Islamic revolution in the 80’s.

Superman: American Alien by Max Landis


Superman is an iconic character, and there are many stories that have been told about him, but none like the ones in this book. Each tale conjuring a different emotion than the last, this book offers amazing new perspectives of the Man of Steel.

Batman: Year One by Frank Miller


Batman’s initial successes and failures as a costumed hero are fraught with pain, persistence and an unquenched desire for justice.

I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly

 
The role of an outsider is never an easy one. This story takes the concept of the other and multiplies it exponentially.

Ghost World by Daniel Clowes


Identity and the path to the future are not always evident.

Pride of Baghdad by Brian K. Vaughan


War harms everyone, even the animals in a zoo hit during a bombing run.

V for Vendetta by Alan Moore

 
Dystopia, anarchy, revolution and the danger of unchecked authority.

The texts above are just a start. If you decide to start with your struggling readers by passing some comics into their hands, just keep in mind that this is where you should be beginning, not ending, your intervention. When you are comfortable with their effectiveness and your ability to implement them successfully, you can take the next step and bring these texts to your other, higher achieving students!

It may take some time but, in my experience, it usually does not take long to discover those books that will make your reading-loving students eager to explore and be challenged by new types of texts, topics, and content.

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!


PCC Celebrates a Successful Round of Spring 2017 Workshops!

Since the beginning of 2017, Pop Culture Classroom has been hard at work with a variety of exciting new pop culture-based classes and workshops focusing on comic creation, game design, digital storytelling, and more! All our workshops aim to inspire and engage students in literacy, creativity, critical thinking and art.

Between January and May 2017, we ran 17 pop culture-based workshops, for over 163 hours, in 11 different locations throughout Colorado! Six of these sites were brand new to us this year, and we thank them for helping us to bring our programs to new groups of eager young students!

In total, more than 350 students participated in these workshops, with ages ranging from early elementary all the way up to high school. Twelve of these workshops used the Storytelling Through Comics program to teach students to create their own comics, while five centered around teaching students to build their very own table-top board games using our game design program, Game On!.  

To celebrate the many accomplishments these students achieved in these workshops, we’ve highlighted our favorite moments from some of the workshops below. A tremendous thank you to the many students, PCC teachers, and the schools and sites that made these workshops possible!  

GIRLS ATHLETIC LEADERSHIP SCHOOL (DENVER)

Thanks to a partnership with Denver Open Media and a grant from the Denver Office of Children’s Affairs, this past year we were fortunate enough to help a group of creative, talented and inspiring young women at GALS Denver create their very own comics … and then transform these comics into digital shorts that the students wrote, directed, produced, and acted in themselves. Congrats to all the students who participated and thank you again for an incredible year!

See the digital shorts here:
https://www.denveropenmedia.org/projects/superhero-shorts-comics-movies

As part of the workshop, students were given the chance to “premiere” their digital shorts on the Denver Open Media channel. Each short focuses on making the world a greater and more conscientious place, and are terrific examples of the power and potential of what comics and digital storytelling can do for young students!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

A GALS student working diligently on her comic during class.

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

Another student drawing her comic, titled Blood Thirsty, about vampires. Students used these comics as storyboards for their digital shorts!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

Our grant allowed PCC and Denver Open Media to engage a greater degree of professional quality when creating the digital story-telling project. Here are some of the girls on set of a green-screen for special effects.

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

In addition, the girls at GALS were able to utilize professional camera and editing equipment to complete their digital short based on their comics.

UNIVERSITY HILL ELEMENTARY (BOULDER)

We ran two separate workshops at University Hill Elementary this spring, including a board game design workshop and comic creation workshop, for 2nd – 5th grade students.

Shawn Bowman, who co-taught the game design workshop with instructor Lance Holly, had this to say about the class: “This has been my favorite class to teach so far. At the end of each class session, I asked the kids to meet in a circle and go around the room talking about their favorite part of that afternoon – for many of them it was using a game board to tell a story but every class at least two kids said the “best part of the day was working with my friends”

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

One of the many games students created over the 12-week workshop, in a preliminary testing phase. Note the small volcano in the middle of the board!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

While some students partnered up with each other to build a game, the majority – including students like Diego– hopped around the room collaborating with each other and trying out a new designs and ideas throughout the class. Part of the goal of the program is building classroom community and allowing students to work with their peers.

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

The board games ranged greatly in shape, size, and structure.

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

No game is complete without a set of rules! We encourage students to use whatever materials they like to create games – even maps!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

One of the girls in the class, Sarah, made two games, one of which she worked with PCC instructor Lance on – based on his beard as the basis for the board design.

CURTIS ARTS & HUMANITIES CENTER (GREENWOOD VILLAGE)

An all-new site for PCC this year, Curtis Arts & Humanities Center brought us in to teach workshops in 2017 focusing on traditional comic creation and manga/anime comics for students ages 9-14. 

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

Averie and Fyetka met in our Curtis class and became instant friends. Averie’s comic, ‘Wolf Girl,’ centers on a girl who can transform into a wolf. Fyetka’s comic, ‘Flame Fame,’ features a protagonist who wakes from a coma underwater only to discover that she now has super powers and must save the world. Fyetka noted that she “learned a lot about shading, eyes, head shapes, and hair styles” in the workshop, while Averie “loved learning how to draw faces and draw clothes and layers.”

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

Another Curtis student, Max, noted that he loved learning how to create comics because he “likes being able to express himself through drawing as well as writing.” He created a final comic about a protagonist who is labeled a pyromaniac and chooses to becomes a villain. But in the end, he decides to become a better person rather than letting a label dictate who he is!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

Curtis student Trey titled his final comic The Big Fight. It features his protagonist, Stunt Man, and villain, Evil Unicorn, fighting over who is the best. Trey loves making comics and carries his sketchbook everywhere. He says his favorite part of the class was learning how to draw people.

COLUMBINE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (BOULDER)

At Columbine Elementary in Boulder, another one of our new locations this spring (wahoo!), our workshop utilized the Game On! program to help 2nd & 3rd grade students create their own tabletop board games from scratch. We are excited to continue our work with them next semester!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

An early draft of one student’s game. Students learn 7 game design principles during the game design program by playing and modifying basic games, and then apply this knowledge to their own games!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

Just a few of the arts & crafts supplies students used to create the custom avatars, playing pieces and boards for their games!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

A group of Columbine students finalizing the rules after a last playthrough of their game! At the end of the program, students playtested each other’s games and provide feedback on the rules, materials and experience of playing their classmates’ games.

WHITTIER ELEMENTARY (BOULDER)

Finally, our comics workshop at Whittier Elementary for 3rd – 5th graders was another huge success! Many students returned to retake the course from the previous semester, claiming it was their favorite afterschool club.

When reflecting on the experience, PCC instructor Shawn Bowman said, “Because we use the comic book Princeless for explaining writing techniques and vocabulary, the kids are reading the story deeper and exploring the art in ways they might have glossed over otherwise.  Part of the delight in ownership of the book is ownership of our shared experiences as a class…The girls in our class were especially delighted this time around to see a young female hero who didn’t want to wear fancy dresses or kill dragons.”

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

The title page for one of the student’s completed comic, Ghost Girl. While some students chose to create 6-panel comics on a single page, this student developed an actual book!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

2 Whittier students hyper-focused on their drawings. Whittier provided a great inclusive space and artistic environment for students to develop their work!

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

Students learn how to create settings as part of the comic creation program. In this photo, a Whittier student practices drawing a castle to be included in her final comic.

2017 Spring Workshops - Pop Culture Classroom

Students learn how to create settings as part of the comic creation program. In this photo, a Whittier student practices drawing a castle to be included in her final comic.

During the workshop, students went through the process of learning how to pencil, color, and ink their comics. This is an early penciled draft of a student’s comic.

THANK YOU FOR ALL THESE WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITIES!

Overall, we were thrilled with the outcome of our workshops this spring! It was such a rewarding experience to help students across Colorado improve their literacy, creativity, critical thinking and ability to express themselves.

We look forward to impacting more young lives with the power of power of pop culture!

To learn more about workshops or request one at your school or site, please visit www.popcultureclassroom.org/workshops or reach out to us directly at info@popcultureclassroom.org.