Archive for Comics

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!


Webcomics for the Classroom: Part 1

Contributed by: Jason Nisavic

When students walk in the door to start your class period, what do they expect to find? Hopefully, they look forward to your class as a chance to engage with something unusual and interesting.  For teachers who would like to jumpstart their lesson with a conversation piece, it’s hard to beat a good web comic.

Take for example one of my favorites, XKCD, a fantastic online, science-focused comic that occasionally shows a great deal of heart:

Webcomics for the Classroom Part 1 - Pop Culture Classroom

I have a copy of “Grownups” on my wall because of its profound impact on my approach to adulthood.  This is more than a three-panel punchline – it’s a short story with humor, a moral, and a happy ending.

WEBCOMICS IN THE CLASSROOM

Now, as an experiment, let’s see what we could do with this XKCD comic in the classroom. I gave myself 60 seconds to brainstorm, and here’s what I came up with:

  • English: Turn the story into a first-person narrative. What thoughts does the man have as he navigates this situation?
  • Sociology/Psychology: Reflect upon the expectations of adolescence and adulthood in society.
  • Math: Calculate how many 3” diameter playpen balls could fit in your classroom.

That’s just one strip from a comic that has nearly 2000 entries. Here’s another one from XKCD that’s just as intriguing a comic as it is a classroom resource: 

Webcomics for the Classroom Part 1 - Pop Culture Classroom

Upgoer Five” is a powerful example of the phrase “restrictions breed creativity.” In it, a diagram of a rocket is explained using only the 1000 most commonly used English words (a full list can be found here.) How fun would it then be to have your students use the same list to explain a recently-learned topic as a formative assessment? The possibilities are endless!

OTHER WEBCOMICS OF NOTE

And that’s just to start!  Below is a list of other promising webcomics to engage your students.

A Softer World

Webcomics for the Classroom Part 1 - Pop Culture Classroom

A now-defunct comic featuring mainly pictures with quirky captions, A Softer World can provide hundreds of creative writing prompts. (Occasionally NSFW)

The Oatmeal

Webcomics for the Classroom Part 1 - Pop Culture Classroom

The Oatmeal can give funny, sincere reflections upon life and culture (often NSFW, so be selective!)

Camp Weedonwantcha

Webcomics for the Classroom Part 1 - Pop Culture Classroom

Camp Weedonwantcha follows the ongoing struggles of a group of abandoned children who try to live together in an isolated camp.  Funny, touching, and great character development.  Organized into story arcs, but good luck pulling yourself away once you start.

Colorful History

Webcomics for the Classroom Part 1 - Pop Culture Classroom

Colorful History is a biweekly webcomic created by Pop Culture Classroom that provides short historical comics that focus on important figures in Colorado state history, complete with teacher guides! 

Web comics are an excellent, zero-budget way to start thinking visually. If things go well, then maybe it’s time to start exploring the ways that comics and graphic novels can bring new life to your teaching. And while these are a great start, keep in mind they don’t even scratch the surface of all the great webcomics out there. Keep an eye out for Part 2 to get more examples and suggestions!


The Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Laboratory Returns for DCC’17!

The Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Laboratory is back for Denver Comic Con 2017!  

What is the PCC Kids’ Lab, you ask? It’s only 10,000 square feet of pop culture-based educational fun for kids and teens – not to mention the most fun you’ll have all summer long!

This year, our Kids’ Lab theme is You Can Make a Difference. Each day, we’ll be offering a full slate of fun, interactive and engaging activities for kiddos of all ages and interests. All activities aim to give these children and teens the tools to empower themselves to make a difference in their world. With the help of the Denver Comic Con superhero team, students will learn about cleaning up Cherry Creek, making your own pizza garden, creating edible water bottles and many, many more activities sure to leave them inspired!

As a bonus, each activity at the Lab this year falls under at least two letters of S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) and comes with a lesson plan that teachers and parents can request to keep all the pop culture fun alive at home too!

Finally, there will be dozens of community organizations, presentations, live demos, workshops, arts & crafts, and interactive activities going on throughout the weekend.

If you’re new to DCC or just haven’t checked out the Lab before, stop by with your family and check it out and learn all about how DCC’s unique family friendly and education focus is helping us reach pop culture fans of all ages!


Announcing the Winners of Our Third Annual Kids Comic Contest!

We are excited to announce the winners of the 3rd annual Pop Culture Classroom Kids’ Comics Contest! These young comic creators submitted excellent original works displaying the ideas of strength, justice, courage, and unity through exemplary storytelling and art. We are excited to honor their hard work and creativity!

Along with a pair of 3-day passes to Denver Comic Con 2017, contest winners will have their artwork prominently featured in the official Denver Comic Con 2017 souvenir program and admired by thousands of con attendees. Additional prizes include exhibition of artist’s work on the Pop Culture Classroom website and a special meet-and-greet session with a professional comic artist during Denver Comic Con 2017.

See the Full List of Winners …


Announcing the 2017 Pop Culture Educator of the Year Award Winners!

We are excited to announce the 2017 winners of the first-ever Pop Culture Educator of the Year Award! Each of the award-winners below has demonstrated innovative use of pop culture as an educational tool in their classrooms to engage and inspire students, as well as create lasting impacts in their schools and local communities. We are pleased to recognize and honor their wonderful work!

In addition to one of PCC’s own pop culture-based curricula, each award-winner will receive two 3-day passes to Denver Comic Con 2017 (June 30- July 2, 2017), as well as a special DCC’17 prize package.

Thank you to everyone who nominated an educator this year! We were excited to hear about so many excellent educators using pop culture in their classrooms.

See the Full List of Winners …


PCC Partner Sterling Correctional Facilities Wins Will Eisner Grant from the ALA

Pop Culture Classroom is excited to announce that our partner Sterling Correctional Facilities (SCF) has been awarded The Will Eisner Graphic Novel Growth Grant from the American Library Association (ALA).

This grant provides support to a library that would like to expand its existing graphic novel services and programs.

ADVANCING PCC’S LEAD WITH COMICS

SCF is one of the sites of PCC’s program LEAD With Comics, and this grant will allow a new teacher to travel to Sterling, Colorado, to enrich the curriculum as well as fund the expansion of their graphic novel library.

Thanks to this grant and the hard work of the librarians at SCF, the growth of LEAD will encourage literacy and reduce recidivism.

LEAD (Literacy Education in Adult Detention) With Comics is PCC’s ongoing project in jail systems and detention centers across Colorado.

Working with specially trained teachers from local nonprofits and Denver Public Schools, this course aims to improve their art and literacy skills. We believe anyone’s life can be transformed by the educational power of pop culture.

BENEFITING STERLING CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES

Erin Boyle is the former SCF Library Manager and currently works as a regional librarian for the Colorado State Library.

She commented, “The SCF Libraries are always looking for ways to provide public-library quality programs to their patrons. Library staff there are extremely hard-working, and usually have to cope with limited time and resources.”

Because of the remote location of SCF, the grant will help them to overcome the restricted opportunities they face and expand the partnerships they have built, including the partnership with PCC.

ADVANCING LITERACY, REDUCING RECIDIVISM

After a LEAD class at SCF, an offender wrote “This class help[s] men with the stress of prison. By drawing reading, etc. The mind is free to give a man some happiness.”

Another wrote “I feel I can draw a little but don’t have enough confidence. I feel I have improved because of this class.” The LEAD project is a creative way to reach struggling readers and help them find a positive way forward.

On LEAD, Boyle said, “When I taught the program along with teacher Renae Kubitz and library tech Brett Hodgins, we saw the interest and talent that our students brought to the table. It was always fun to talk to students and get their unique perspectives on the graphic novels we read. In particular, when artist Dion Harris came to talk about perspective or anatomy, the room would get so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I’ve never seen such avid interest.”

MOVING FORWARD WITH THE LEAD PROGRAM

Illya Kowalchuk, Director of Education at PCC said, “We are thrilled that the Will Eisner Foundation awarded SCF one of their grants to support the class and our partnership. Winning this grant will provide even more resources to the students at SCF.  All of us at PCC look forward to continuing LEAD With Comics at Sterling Correctional Facility.”

Read more about our LEAD Program at SCF here.

ABOUT THE WILL AND ANN EISNER FAMILY FOUNDATION

The Will and Ann Eisner Family Foundation fosters innovation and creativity in graphic literature, sequential art and comics. It encourages others to continue and build upon the legacy of Will Eisner, who broke new ground in the development of visual narrative and the language of comics. Will Eisner is best known for being the creator of The Spirit comic, for developing comics for education and training, and for writing the first modern graphic novel. For more information about Will Eisner visit www.willeisner.com.

ABOUT THE ALA

Established in 1876, the American Library Association is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization created to provide leadership for the development, promotion, and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all. More information on the grant and the application process can be found at http://www.ala.org/gamert/will-eisner-graphic-novel-grants-libraries.


Pop Culture Classroom showcased in National Council of Teachers of English Spring Journal!

We are pleased to announce that Pop Culture Classroom’s (PCC’s) comic issue, Discovering Literacy Through Comics, has been featured in the Spring Issue of the National Council of Teachers of English’s (NCTE’s) Voices from the Middle!

This is exciting news because it highlights an important comic which illustrates the power of using comics as a teaching tool in the classroom.

The comic was written by our Education Director Illya Kowalchuk and Education Program Manager Adam Kullberg, with art by Jay Peteranetz.

Each page of the comic is specifically designed to pinpoint a way in which comics easily engage readers to facilitate learning.

The Reader’s Guide is also an interesting and helpful companion to the comic, which helps teachers better understand how to implement comics into their curriculum.

The NCTE is a premier organization and platform for the advancement of literacy and education in English. It is a great honor to be featured in their magazine, allowing our comic to reach a wider audience and have a greater impact on the promotion and development of literacy, and the use of language to construct personal and public worlds to achieve full participation in society, as per the Council’s mission.

PCC is proud to partner with NCTE to support teachers and enhance the powerful work already happening in today’s middle school English classrooms.

For a free copy of this comic, the associated reader’s guide, and a host of free classroom resources, please visit http://popcultureclassroom.org/classroom/resources/


Inspiring Lifelong Readers: The Literary Power of Comics

Despite their rising influence across movies, TV, film, and literature, comics are still considered by many to be simple, low-brow superhero tales that lack any real-world impact. Even teachers using comics in their classrooms can fall into a familiar trap: thinking comics are only useful for encouraging struggling readers, and not much else.

But comics offer so much more than the spandex-clad heroes in bright yellow uniforms! In fact, research shows that comics offer innovative ways to teach literacy to students from all backgrounds, helping to shape the way they approach literature and reading for the rest of their lives.

COMICS AS A PATHWAY TO LITERATURE

Blog: Lifelong Literacy - Pop Culture ClassroomWhether it’s elementary, middle or high school, English classes at all levels focus on developing critical thinking and analysis skills in students. But, as English professor Rocco Versaci explains, “students first need exposure to literature before they can be in a position to argue literary merit.” How, you ask? After all, it is hard to ask a student to make literary judgments if they don’t engage with what they are reading or don’t enjoy it in some way. Comic books and graphic novels are the perfect solution!

As an added bonus, the reading of comics and graphic novels doesn’t in any way detract from the ability or desire to read higher level texts. Studies show that “…those who read more comic books did more pleasure reading, liked to read more, and tended to read more books.” Comic books don’t inhibit other kinds of reading, but rather encourage more reading of all kinds!

For example, the graphic novel adaption of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis by Peter Kuper can be the perfect way to introduce students to the classical literary canon while still being engaging.

Blog: Lifelong Literacy - Pop Culture ClassroomIn addition, Kindred by Octavia E. Butler is an essential feminist reading, and the adapted graphic novel by Damian Duffy allows students to easily enter the foray that is Butler’s feminist sci-fi.

By reading the adapted versions students get to experience the literary cannon in an approachable way, encouraging familiarity without being intimidating. And if students can start making literary judgements from adapted versions, they can translate that someday to the traditional texts as well.

ANALYZING COMICS FOR LITERARY ELEMENTS

Blog: Lifelong Literacy - Pop Culture ClassroomA multimodal union of text and imagery, comic books are incredibly engaging for any level of reader. As Versaci also says, “comic books are able to quite literally put a human face on a given subject.” Instead of just reading text, students get an image to connect with as well. However, the typical elements used for analysis in a classroom don’t just disappear when images are added. According to AP teacher Lisa Cohen, the reciprocity between text and pictures “necessitates inference skills” and “allows for a new approach to diction, imagery, syntax, structure, and language.”

For any curriculum centered on literature, literary devices are essential, and by using comics and graphic novels teachers might help students better grasp these concepts. Cohen gives the example of Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, and discusses how looking at the anthropomorphism and animal symbolism of the graphic novel allows for high levels of critical thinking and literary analysis. The symbolism in the novel largely lies in the illustrations, and as such is a unique way to demonstrate the particular device to students. 

Blog: Lifelong Literacy - Pop Culture ClassroomAlternatively, books like Persepolis can show the way that artistic style connects to character development. Marjane Satrapi’s illustrations accompany her view of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and are the perfect site for analysis on how images accompany language and how this creates meaning. English is all about how language and style can shape meaning; graphic novels just offer a new spin by introducing pictures as a site for further analysis on how structure can shape a work.

CONCLUSION

Overall, the experiences students have reading comics and graphic novels help refine their understanding of literature as well as reinforce literary analysis skills that can inspire a lifelong love of reading. Rather than being low-brow or simplistic, comics offer teachers a new and often unexplored way to approach everything from Shakespeare to symbolism to story arc – and everything in between. Every student can benefit from analyzing something that they actually enjoy, and comic books are the perfect way to introduce young readers to the incredible world of reading!


Workshop Spotlight: Whittier Elementary

Pop Culture Classroom is dedicated to offering students in classrooms all across the Front Range dynamic workshops exploring educational topics through the lens of pop culture. The latest of these was an exciting 8-week comic-creation course at Whittier Elementary. Using Storytelling Through Comics, an arts and literacy curriculum created by PCC, students had the unique opportunity to create their own comics.

The process of creating comics empowers students in their education, making learning and creating fun and relevant to what kids are already interested in. Starting in January, six students began learning about comics from PCC educators Marisa Pushee and Shawn Bowman during an after-school program.

At the end of the creation process, these students had each created a 6 panel comic from scratch. Their comics focused on a problem in the world and overcoming it through their superheroes.

According to Pushee, four students in the class “were good friends who regularly made comics together. Already dedicated comic book fans, they were excited to learn more about developing their layouts and improving their drawing techniques. At the end of the class, they decided to each make their own final comic, but found ways to include crossover characters and influence each other’s work.”

The students artistic and storytelling skills grew over the course of the class resulting in a fun and rewarding experience for both students and educators.

For more information on Storytelling Through Comics, visit here.

 

Spotlight: Whittier Elementary - Pop Culture Classroom

Whittier PCC workshop participant Kate hard at work on the final draft of her comic.

Workshop: Whittier Elementary - Pop Culture Classroom

Students Jun and Rivers creating cross-over comics together.

Workshop: Whittier Elementary - Pop Culture Classroom

Mira, age 10, working hard on her original comic “Changes.”

Workshop: Whittier Elementary - Pop Culture Classroom

Enrico and his comic “Waterfall” about a bird named Kirby who drinks from the fountain of youth.

Workshop: Whittier Elementary - Pop Culture Classroom

Rhys having a fun learning to draw her first-ever comic.

Workshop: Whittier Elementary - Pop Culture Classroom

Hyunmin, 8, diligently drafting his comic, “Bird’s Revenge.”


 

Littles Need Comics, Too: Comics and Graphic Novels for Early Readers

By Ronell Whitaker

“Are there any comics or graphic novels out there for the primary grades?”

This is a question I get all the time from fellow teachers. It seems simple, but for years I found myself struggling to find a good answer. While I’ve always had great suggestions of comic and graphic novel titles for high schoolers and the middle grades, I had never gotten around to finding out what options there actually were for the K to 2nd grade crowd.

When I did a preliminary search, I was frustrated to see that even those comics aimed at younger readers – like Marvel’s Little Golden Books, or licensed properties like My Little Pony and Adventure Time – are often rebranded picture books or written above primary reading levels. Frustrated, I began to think that the answer to their question might be a deflating, “No.”

Until now.

Below, I’ve put together a list of great books and resources for the little readers out there. Covering an array of content, styles, and age levels, these books showcase the diversity and potential of comics to reach students of all ages, and make great additions to any ECE or elementary classroom:

The Ordinary People Change The World Series
By Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulos

The Ordinary People Change the World Series

These books blend traditional comic style with the readability of picture books. The series is a collection of biographies centered on heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Amelia Earhart, Albert Einstein, and Rosa Parks, but the book presents these historical giants in a kid-friendly, pint-sized way that is endearing and relatable for early readers.

Tiny Titans
by Art Balthazar

Tiny Titans

Art Balthazar’s world of crayon and sidewalk chalk heroes is especially appealing to young readers. Although it’s at the upper end of the K-2 age range, the stories in each book are normally no more than five pages, and the vocabulary isn’t overly challenging. The writing is joke a minute, and kids love seeing characters they recognize in the big kids comics.

Owly
by Andy Runton 

Owly

Andy Runton’s Owly is an adorable character, who goes on kid friendly adventures with his forest friends. What makes Owly especially attractive to emerging readers is there are no words. Readers use images to follow along as Owly learns concepts like cooperation, sharing and compassion.

Toon Books

Toon Books

Toon Books was the “A-ha!” find of this entire search. What’s great about them is they organize their titles by age level, and they hire top notch, award winning talent like Jeff Smith (Bone), Eleanor Davis (How To Be Happy), and Toon Books co-founder Art Spiegelman (Maus). Toon Books focus on publishing books specifically for early readers is what makes them the best option for readers ages 3 and up.

Comics are a great way to captivate emerging readers, and these books will go a long way toward creating a life long love of books.