Unit 4: How to analyze a graphic novel to determine appropriateness for classroom usage

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Digital Journal

Please access the blog for the course. This is where you will post your thoughts and reflections as you progress.
Access Here:https://amessley.edublogs.org password: Graphicnovelhistory


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First, reflect: How do you predict that you will use graphic novels in a classroom?

Record your responses in your digital journal.

Evaluating Graphic Novels for Classroom Usage

General Graphic Novel Evaluation Criteria:

  1. Does the graphic novel have an interesting cover that correctly depicts the content?
  2. Are the illustrations arranged in a way that readers can easily follow the sequence?
  3. Do the gutters (i.e., the spaces between the illustrations) aid comprehension or distract the reader?
  4. Is the text clearly readable with an appropriate font and font size?
  5. Does the white space between the text, frames, and illustrations help readers move through the book, or are the pages too busy?
  6. Is there a glossary to assist with vocabulary in nonfiction graphic novels?
  7. Is there a table of contents or index to help readers locate information in nonfiction graphic?

Graphic Novel Illustration Criteria:

  1. Does the color palette (e.g., pastels, primary colors, sepia tones) aid the reader in understanding the tone and mood of the story?
  2. Do the illustrations refine characterization by giving clues as to character emotion, mood, and personality?
  3. Does the style of art (e.g., abstract, impressionist, surrealist) fit the type of story or information in the novel or seem disjointed and out of place?
  4. Has both positive space (i.e., the objects in the illustrations) and negative space (i.e., the space between the objects) been used to create a visually pleasing effect?
  5. Do the illustrations provide enough context and action to keep the reader moving through the story?

Fiction graphic novel evaluation criteria:

  1. Does the graphic novel have three-dimensional characters with characteristics similar to your readers?
  2. Does the graphic novel have themes relevant and important to your readers?
  3. Is the conflict relevant and appropriate for your readers?
  4. Are there age-appropriate moral, ethical, or political themes that resonate through the story?
  5. Does the action keep your readers’ interest and motivate them to continue reading?
  6. Is the climax realistic and true to the rising action?
  7. Is the denouement satisfying as a culmination of narrative events?
  8. Does the resolution bring the conflict to a satisfying end?

Nonfiction graphic novels evaluation criteria:

  1. Does the content have a clear organization that aids reading comprehension?
  2. Is the information interesting enough to keep readers actively engaged with the text?
  3. Are there appealing charts, graphs, and other visual aids to help the reader understand the concepts?
  4. Are there enough supporting details to explain or describe each main idea?
  5. If the information is sequential, such as a to, are there enough steps so that the reader can replicate the process?
  6. Is the content relevant and age-appropriate for the developmental level of your readers?

“Graphic Novels.” The Institute of Progressive Education and Learning, 2021, http://institute-of-progressive-education-and-learning.org/elearning-i/elearning-educational-entertainment/graphic-novels/.

Graphic Novels for the Classroom

Graphic Novels for the English Classroom

Przybylski, Paige Classey. “Graphic Novels Belong in Your English Class. Here's How to Use Them (Opinion).” Education Week, Education Week, 7 Dec. 2020, https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/opinion-graphic-novels-belong-in-your-english-class-heres-how-to-use-them/2019/03.

“20+ Graphic Novels That English Teachers Love.” SECONDARY SARA, 18 Sept. 2018, https://www.secondarysara.com/2018/09/20-graphic-novels-that-english-teachers.html.

Lewandowski, Thomas. “Decoding Graphic Narrative: An Analysis of Authorial Choice in Marjane Satrapi's PERSEPOLIS (Part 1).” Youtube.com, 9 Dec. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l26IWC_8g3g&t=24s.

Graphic Novels for the History Classroom

Colombo, Roman. “Graphic Novels about History Are the Best Way to Experience the Past.” Comic Years, 15 May 2021, https://comicyears.com/comics/graphic-novels-about-history-are-a-paradigm-shift-in-how-people-learn-about-the-past/.

School, Too Cool For Middle. “Fresh Perspectives with Historical Graphic Novels.” Too Cool for Middle School, 31 May 2019, https://toocoolformiddleschool.com/2019/05/31/fresh-perspectives-with-historical-graphic-novels/.




“GRAPHIC NOVELS for HISTORY || Timberdoodle Review.” Youtube.com, 10 Aug. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9hRLq1lT6A.

Graphic Novels for the Science Classroom

Alverson, Brigid. “Teaching with Science Comics.” School Library Journal, 20 June 2017, https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=teaching-with-science-comics.

“Best Graphic Novels to Teach Stem.” Pop Culture Classroom, 2021, https://classroom.popcultureclassroom.org/resources/pcc-recommends/comics-101/best-graphic-novels-teach-stem/.

Cardno, Catherine A. “Top 15 Graphic Novels for The Science Classroom.” Education Week, 1 Nov. 2012, https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/top-15-graphic-novels-for-the-science-classroom/2012/11.

Hughes, Melanie. “Stem Graphic Novels and Comic Books: Series.” LibGuides, 2021, https://libguides.ius.edu/stem.

Hughes, Sarah. “Comic Book Science in the Classroom.” NPR, NPR, 8 Apr. 2005, https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4581832.

“Content through Comics: Teaching STEM and Humanities with Graphic Novels | Comic-Con@Home 2021.” Youtube.com, ComicCon, 22 July 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ds25MLekkPM&t=169s.

Graphic Novels for the Math Classroom

Cooper, Sandi, et al. “Exploring Graphic Novels for Elementary Science and Mathematics .” School Library Research, vol. 14, 2011, pp. 1–17.

Gewertz, Catherine. “Math Teachers Take a Page from English/Language Arts: Comic Books!” Education Week, Education Week, 3 Dec. 2020, https://www.edweek.org/teaching-learning/math-teachers-take-a-page-from-english-language-arts-comic-books/2019/09.

Hughes, Melanie. “Stem Graphic Novels and Comic Books: Math.” LibGuides, 2021, https://libguides.ius.edu/c.php?g=363053&p=2452326.

McClain, Jim. “Using Comics to Teach Math!” Pop Culture Classroom, 4 Oct. 2018, https://classroom.popcultureclassroom.org/blog/using-comics-to-teach-math/.

“Using Comic Books in Math Class.” Advancement Courses' Teacher Resources, 31 Mar. 2021, https://blog.advancementcourses.com/articles/comic-books-math/.

Additional Resources for Graphic Novels in the Classroom

“CBLDF Discussion Guides.” Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, 2021, http://cbldf.org/cbldf-discussion-guides/.

“Using Graphic Novels in Education.” Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, 2021, http://cbldf.org/using-graphic-novels/.

Reflect and Assignment

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Review the resources listed above for your content area and select a graphic novel for study in your classroom.

Look to the questions for general graphic novel evaluation criteria, evaluation of a graphic novel's illustrations and the evaluation of a fiction or nonfiction graphic novel. Answer the questions for your chosen graphic novel and post the responses on the class blog.

Final Project: Create a lesson plan on how you may use the graphic novel chosen in your classroom. Post your lesson plan on the class blog.

Course Navigation

Anne Messley Mini-Course Page

Unit 1: Define graphic novels & identify misconceptions about graphic novels

Unit 2: How graphic novels help students learn

Unit 3: How to teach history with graphic novels

Unit 4: How to analyze a graphic novel to determine appropriateness for classroom usage