Saturday, February 8, 2014

How Graphic Novels Unit is Going/ 3rd Grade Note


  • We are into the third week of the fifth grade "Graphic Novels" unit, and I finally feel like a can take a deep breathe. I decided to use the myth, "Pandora's Box", and found a one-page version at an appropriate reading level for my students. I wanted each design team to use their own strategy to divide it into a beginning, middle, and end. I really did not think that would be such a hard thing, but it ended up taking an entire class period for some groups. Still, the "pirate" in me decided to stay the course in letting the students own the learning, let the pacing be student-driven, and be prepared for more scaffolding. Then, the storyboards started. I could have easily said, "One storyboard of four panels per student." I let the students decided who would do what, and some groups went with the minimum requirement of 12 panels, 4 layout pages, while others wanted to add a ton more to the myth in service of their selected "tone". There are Pandoras who are Pandas, robots, fairies, and sporting Manga hair as a result----I love it! Stuff popping out of the box (envy, crime, hate, disease, plus hope) also might look like ghosts, fairies, zombies, etc. In several cases, the box is a portal to another dimension. Exactly the type of creative thinking I was hoping for!
  • Onto the layout panel designing...Having reference on Pinterest was helpful for some groups, others just wanted to copy my layout, others used the posters I had in the art room. The place where I need to make changes for next year is cycling back to "why" different layouts serve the story. I talked with groups 1:1 to make suggestions for changing up their layouts, but my voice is nearly shot after a week of 1:1 conferences (14 groups a day, 5 days a week). and another thing---turns out some students do not know how to use a ruler correctly to draw a 1/2" border around their layout pages. I was a bit floored by that, but definitely brought some math into the language arts lesson. I do not want to make it easier by having them trace a border, so I need to allow time for this component.
  • Now, we are at the fun stage, the drawing! After all that scaffolding and cycling back to the concept of "tone", I am anxious to see how the art turns out. The process is the point, and I definitely think integrative learning is the best, but the art teacher in me is dying to see some drawing finally.
  • 3rd Grade note: I had this fun idea to get a bunch of cereal boxes and have my third graders cut them up, make either owls or fish, and paint them before doing a little free-form weaving on them. It has been really well-received because of the novelty of using that donated cardboard. The kids started making a game out of seeing who got what type of box ("I got Cheeerios!"). During a demonstration of cutting and gluing, a few students incredulously asked me, "Where do you come up with these cool ideas, Mrs. Girbino?". My favorite comment came on Friday, when one of the boys in my last class of the week came up to me and said, "When I get home, I am looking for an empty box and making a dragon!" My mood matched the sun streaming in my window---sunny! Great way to end the week and worth the hassle of cutting up those boxes all week.

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The Sketchbook Project

The Sketchbook Project: 2011

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