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.