Just a few days before the release of a new “X-Men” movie, and much to the delight of her class, Mrs. Verbeck followed the English Language Arts test with a unit using comic books to motivate her third graders to apply the reading and writing skills they have acquired through the Columbia Teachers College Reading & Writing Project to an alternate genre by having them read some classic comic books and then draw and write a comic book of their own. The students eagerly embraced this genre and created superheroes (often a reflection of their own alter ego) and gave their newly minted heroes and heroines perilous situations and villains to overcome.
Three boys were excited to see that they were featured in a comic book entitled “The Revenge on Super Sisters. Will They Need a Hero?” written by one of their classmates, Jackie Carranza. Jackie shared that her favorite comic book was “G-Man”, which was also the favored choice of several of her classmates.
The purchase of the comic books was made possible through a grant from the Retirement Council 22, a group of retired teachers from the Riverhead area. A representative from that group, Rosemary Brennan, attended the celebration and the student council presented her with Thank you cards.
Verbeck pointed out, “The idea for the comic book unit came from a former student, Kenneth Darden, who wrote an opinion piece last year on the importance of reading comic books in school and having comics available in class libraries. He was our guest of honor at the celebration and we presented him with a graphic novel. Most of the comics we read in class were purchased at Android’s Amazing Comics in Sayville, NY. Anthony, the owner, was a huge help in selecting age appropriate and popular comic books.”
Verbeck adapted Common Core State Standards to comic books as an alternate genre to utilize a concept with which she has been experimenting: combining visuals and drawings with narrative writing and storytelling as a method of encouraging young writers to create sequence and spark imagination and interest.
This teaching concept is embraced by Diamond Bookshelf, a comic book company that encourages the use of comics as a learning tool in the classroom.
Maybe it is time to ask, “What would ‘Super Sarah, Galaxy Girl and Weather Woman’ do?”
Source: Press release issued by Riverhead Central School District, May 27.