What I Learned Using a Graphic Novel

characters 4 id tempest 1I used the graphic novel The Tempest: American English, Original Text in my early British literature survey this past spring and this semester.

This semester I received written feedback from the students about each of the readings (because I switched to a colleague’s practice of having the students write LAs–more about that later).

While, as I mentioned in the blog post two days ago, the students overall enjoyed the reading, there were some difficulties that I could have easily overcome.

char 4 id Tempest 2First, I assumed that all students had previously read a graphic novel and would not need any introduction to the reading of a graphic novel. This turned out to be a mistake.

I could have presented a short lecture, using such online sources as GetGraphic’s.

Or I could have used Jessica Abel’s strip on the topic of graphic novels. Downloads of high resolution images of the strip are here. It is licensed for use under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-ShareAlike 3.0 unported license.

Second, I assumed that having the characters presented as pictures would make remembering who each one was (even Alonso and Antonio) easier. However, at least one student mentioned having difficulty with that and having to refer back to the character page to keep straight which character was which.

I think to help with that next time I will have students fill out page 28, the “Family Tree” for the play, from the Classical Comics Teaching Resource Pack, written by Kornel Kossuth, which was created to go along with the graphic novel.

By printing it out ahead of time and having the students fill it out before they begin reading, they will have a resource that shows them the picture of the character, their name, and their primary relationships.

As a note on that resource, let me say that while it says “suitable for teaching ages 10-17,” I have used the fill in the blank pages (with the answers at the bottom of each Act!) as quizzes and students have still had trouble telling me what was happening in the play. Either they hadn’t read it (possible) or they “just read the words without understanding it” as one student mentioned in a comment on why the graphic novel was better.

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