Saturday, February 6, 2010

Graphic Novels in the Middle Years Classroom

This year I have been spending quite a bit of time trying to get to know a bit about the world of graphic novels and their use in my classroom.  I have a unique group of readers in my 6/7 split: one group of very strong readers who read all the time and can read pretty much anything they choose, and another group of reluctant readers who still struggle with fluency and novels and who definitely are uninterested in practicing reading outside of class time.  So my solution was to do a bit of research on high-interest books, and I came across a lot of research that suggested that graphic novels were an excellent approach for reluctant readers.

So far, my anecdotal experience has shown that it works - or at least it gets those particular students more interested in reading - (we are doing another round of CBM's this week to see if fluency has improved since September, and my fingers are crossed for improved results for some of my lower readers.)  I had no idea that the world of graphic novels was so large and complex, and I feel I have only delved into the edges of it.  I am still reluctant about supplying students with manga or anime novels, and I think I am a little biased against some of the more commercial series (Batman, Spiderman, etc.).  But I have found many that my students loved and can't wait to read the next in the series.  I also find myself constantly looking at bookstores/libraries to see what's out there and buying/borrowing graphic novels with particular students in mind.

There are several series that were originally published in traditional novel format (Artemis Fowl, Alex Rider, The Hobbit) and the series have now been re-written into graphic format.  (I even found Twilight the graphic novel this week).  My hope is that my students will start with the graphic novel and then move into the traditional novel as their skills improve.  But, even if they don't - I have introduced a format of reading that they love.  They ask to borrow the books and take them home and return the next day with the book finished.  I would like to include a graphic novel into my literature circles choices this spring, so hopefully the sets my school has ordered get here in time.  I am still on the lookout for books that others have used to get their students reading.

Check out The Graphic Classroom - this blog has helped me to choose books to bring into my classroom and provides extensive reviews and reccomendations of graphic novels for all grade levels.

Scholastic has a good article on using graphic novels in the classroom and particularly discusses the Bone series.

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