Elena Buttgereit


Return to: [[Elena Buttgereit's Mini Course (OpenLearning)]]

Elena Buttgereit's Profile

About me


My name is Elena Buttgereit, and I am just three courses shy of completing the CDIT program! I am hoping to finish the program this spring or summer.

I grew up the daughter of two teachers, so teaching has always been in my genes! In 2012, I graduated from SUNY Geneseo with my bachelor's in English Education with a concentration in creative writing. After graduation, I spent the next three years working as Assistant Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Binghamton University where I was responsible for recruiting students and reviewing admissions applications. The job allowed me to travel all over the country visiting schools to speak to prospective students, and really helped me to hone my skills with presenting and counseling. Today, I'm working as a fourth grade teacher in an inclusion class in Holyoke, Massachusetts. I am also working to become certified to teach Math grades 5-12 over the next few months.

In my spare time, I can generally be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes; I'm particularly fond of cupcakes! I also enjoy curling up with a good book, playing volleyball, and snuggling with my cat, Clementine.

My Topic/Purpose

For this unit, we will be exploring the use of graphic novels as a way to engage reluctant readers and motivate students who may have a distaste for traditional literature. During this unit, we will answer the questions:

What are graphic novels?
What qualities do graphic novels and traditional novels share?
How do graphic novels help to bridge literacies?
How can graphic novels be used to teach grammar and dialogue structure?
What are some strategies we can use in the classroom to incorporate graphic novels into units?

Learning Outcomes

Learners will be able to:

  • synthesize information from educational resources to complete an independent reflection that identifies key qualities of graphic novels and why they are appealing to young adults
  • compare and contrast themes of graphic novel epics with traditional novel epics through written analysis
  • create a graphic interpretation of a scene from a traditional novel
  • build a lesson plan that successfully incorporates the use of a graphic novel according to predetermined criteria
  • describe the positive benefits of the use of graphic novels in the classroom
  • write a persuasive letter to the school board recommending for the inclusion of graphic novels in the curriculum and library

Needs Assessment


In every classroom, teachers are faced with reluctant readers: students for whom reading does not come easily and who struggle to enjoy engaging with written text. Especially in the English Language Arts world, this poses a large problem when dealing with literature and independent reading. In the past few years, there has been a surge in the popularity of graphic novels. When trying to meet the needs of reluctant readers, graphic novels have been shown to motivate and engage students in a way that traditional text cannot.

What is to be Learned

In this course, students will analyze the qualities of graphic novels and how they are engaging to students. By looking at different examples of texts at different reading levels, learners will explore ways to incorporate graphic novels into their curriculum and create interdisciplinary connections across a variety of school subjects. Lessons in this course will include activities about literary analysis of excerpts from Maus by Art Spiegleman, Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi, and Bone by Jeff Smith.


The main goal for this mini-course is for participants to learn strategies to implement in the classroom in order to engage reluctant readers. By the end of the course, participants will have exposure to three very different texts and will have a solid understanding of how graphics enhance a student's ability to relate to the text and provide them with opportunities for higher level analysis of the text just like with traditional literature.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

The Learners

This course is designed for teachers who work in classrooms where students are expected to complete reading. Learners will include current and pre-service educators teaching in K-12 environments. This may be particularly beneficial for teachers of ELA, Reading, Special Education, and History, but these strategies can adapted for use in all classrooms. It can also be used by teachers to enhance the learning in other "non-reading" classrooms by incorporating graphic novels with specific themes into the ELA or Reading classroom and building off the reading with their own lessons.

Instructional Context

All instruction will be completed online, but it could benefit students to collect their own copies of graphic novels as we go through the units. A variety of different instructional means will be used, but in particular, video, screencast, infographs, and interactive discussion will be the primary means of instruction in the course. Assessments will occur throughout the course and could take the form of blog posts, book talks, and persuasive writing prompts.

Performance Objectives

  1. Students will create comic strips that successfully incorporate the characteristics of graphic novels.
  2. Students will create independent responses to critique the value of graphic novels.
  3. Students will compose a persuasive letter to the school board advocating for or against the inclusion of graphic novels in the curriculum.

Task Analysis

Participant Prerequisites:

  • Participants should work with students in an educational setting as a teacher, parent, paraprofessional, reading specialist, etc.

Supportive Prerequisites:

  • Participants should be able to navigate the online KNILT portfolio site.
  • Participants should have moderate computer literacy in order to navigate the course site and external websites.
  • Participants should be comfortable with basic video recording software.

Technical Requirements:

  • Participants must have access to a computer with steady internet access.
  • Participants must have a video recording device or software.
  • Participants must have the appropriate add-ons and plug-ins installed in their computer so that videos are capable of being watched.

Curriculum Map

File:Curriculum map buttgereit.pdf

References and Resources

Cohen, Lisa. "But This Book Has Pictures! The Case for Graphic Novels in an AP Classroom." AP Central. College Board. Web. <http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/apc/members/courses/teachers_corner/158535.html>.

"Graphic Novels in the Classroom." The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. <http://dyslexia.yale.edu/EDU_GraphicNovels.html>

Hoover, Steven. "The Case for Graphic Novels." Communications in Information Literacy 5.2 (2012): 174-86. Eduscapes. <http://eduscapes.com/instruction/articles/hoover.pdf>

Lawrence, Jeremy. "Exploring Graphic Literature as a Genre and Its Place in Academic Curricula." McNair Scholars Journal 15.1 (2011): 31-39.Scholarworks. Grand Valley State University. <http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1305&context=mcnair>

MacDonald, Heidi. "How Graphic Novels Became the Hottest Section in the Library." Publishers Weekly 3 May 2013. <http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/libraries/article/57093-how-graphic-novels-became-the-hottest-section-in-the-library.html>

Schwartz, Gretchen, and Christina Crenshaw. "Old Media, New Media: The Graphic Novel as Bildungsroman." Journal of Media Literacy Education 3.1 (2011): 47-53. The National Association for Media Literacy Education. <http://digitalcommons.uri.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1063&context=jmle>

"Using Comics and Graphic Novels in the Classroom." The Council Chronicle (2005). <http://www.ncte.org/magazine/archives/122031>