SAMPLE I. Framing Colonialism Through Comics

Grades: 9/10

Host: Harbor High School

Arts Instructor: Lin Lucas

Academic Subject(s): World Literature, Social Studies

UNIT DESCRIPTION

Using the medium of comics, students will demonstrate their understanding of the differing perspectives, experiences, and consequences of colonialism from both indigenous African and European points of view.

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS

1. Can art (a novel for example) be used to “help society regain belief in itself and to: “put away complexes of the years of denigration and self abasement?”

2. Can art be used to explore the human condition in a way that helps people regain dignity by showing them what has happened to them, what they lost?

OBJECTIVES

  • Students will identify key elements of colonialism (political, religious, economic, social, cultural, etc.)
  • Students will analyze text(s) 
  • Students will create an original 1-2 page comic which reflects the impacts of colonialism  Ibo culture.
  • Student stories will reflect 3-Act structure (beginning, middle, end) as well as other conventions of storytelling (characters, setting, conflict; rising and falling action)
  • Students will explore point of view by reimagining key events for Achebe’s novel from the 1st person perspective of characaters.
  • Students will examine notions of race and how they relate to the colonization of African societies.

VOCABULARY: comics, cartoon, visual-narrative, icon, symbol, speech balloon, panel, caption, gutter, sequence, juxtapose, scene, story, shot, composition, colonization, point of view, perspective, contrast, race, culture [more…]

Core Concepts

  • Understand and applies visual arts concepts and vocabulary
  • Develops art skills and techniques
  • Applies a creative proces to visual arts
  • Applies a responding process to a visual arts presentation
  • Uses visual art to express feeling and present ideas

MATERIALS

  • Copies/Handouts
  • Folders
  • Projector or Document Camera
  • Pencils
  • India Ink Pens
  • Rulers
  • Paper: 8 ½  X 11; 11 X 14 2 ply bristol; composition paper

INSTRUCTIONAL STRATEGIES APPLIED SKILLS

Reading, Whole and small-group discussion of text; visual-narrative exploration exercises; individual or partnered brainstorming; composition of story outlines, scripting; drafting of rough layouts; editing of rough text and drawings; final visual narrative compositions; critical analysis of ideas presented.

PROJECT OPTIONS

 Using visual-narrative (comics) as the medium of presentation, select one of the following:

  1. Re-imagine a crucial event in Things Fall Apart, focusing on one character’s 1st person perspective. Use textual supports to infer the character’s thoughts, feelings, motivations, etc.
  2. Create a comic depicting dual perspectives of a singe event. Show the perspective of both the colonizers and the colonized.
  3. Research colonization in another area of Africa, Asia, Latin America, The United States, the Carribean, etc. and integrating an understanding from Things Fall Apart, depict an event from the experience of the colonized and the colonizers.
  4. Using the title of the British Commisioner’s proposed book (Pacification of the Primitive Trives of the Lower Niger) as a springboard, create a comic describing the Ibo culture, characters, and response to the colonizers.
  5. Propose an original visual-narrative project that effectively communicates themes and concepts that are the focus of Achebe’s novel.

UNIT OUTLINE

Session One: Introduction and Exploration of Key Concepts

  • Cartoons & Comics
  • Words + Pictures + Sequence + Juxtaposition = Visual Narrative
  • Character Relationship: Action/Reaction
  • Characters, setting, Problem or Change in Status Quo
  • Scene & Story; Shots; Sequence

Exploration 1. Cartoons: Students draw one panel scenes that suggests a story or bigger idea/concept.

Exploration 2. Exquisite Narratives: In groups of three to four, students create original 4 panel comics using a round-robin process in which each person adds 1 panel to each of the 4 stories generated by the group.

Exploration 3. Poem in Two Voices: In pairs, students compose poems that reflect colonizer and colonized point of view. 

Session Two: Editorial Cartoons

  • Key Concepts:Symbols, metaphor, analogy in editorial cartoons 

 Discussion: Begin by reviewing and sharing poems in two-voices from previous session. Have students discuss some of the common themes, ideas, feelings expressed in the poems, looking at both perspectives.

 Introduce editorial cartoon concepts. Using key words from poems in two-voices, generate a list of pictorial symbols that could be used to communicate those ideas:

(Examples: Wealth = money/yams; Religion = cross/snake; Hut = home/primitive…)

Exploration 4. Editorial Cartoons: Divide class into two groups. Have each group create a simple editorial cartoon using symbols, analogy or metaphor. One group will draw cartoons that comment on colonialism from the point of view of the colonized while the other draws cartoons from the colonizers’ perspective.

Session Three: Projects – Stage One

Exploration 5. Scene & Story:

  • Divide class into groups of 5-6.
  • Give each group a sample story outline composed of 5-6 short sentences.
  • Explain that each sentence constitutes a 4 panel scene. Each member of the group will be responsible for translating their sentence into 4 panels composed of words and pictures.
  • The goal are:
  • to communicate the actions/emotions presented or implied in the sentence
  • to add detail, characterization, etc to the scene.
  • When each member of the group has completed their scene, connect and analyze the whole story for clarity.

Brainstorming: Have students generate a list of key scenes from Achebe’s novel—what moments are most memorable or striking in terms of what they show us about Ibo culture or the impacts of European missionaries?

The first step in composing their comics will be choosing a scene or scenes that will serve as the basis for their comic. Authors should be sure to identify the thematic topics that the scene presents and make notes on which ideas they intend to highlight in their comics.

  • How many panels do they think will be needed to effectively get the ideas across?
  • What size will each panel be?
  • What text, dialogue, or captions will go in each panel?

Introduce Projects: Working individually, in pairs, or in small groups students will compose draft story outlines for the project of their choice.

Sessions Four, Five, Six: Framing Colonialism Through Comics

Project Overview: Comics Production Checklist

  1. Write script. Students should outline what will be said in dialogue or captions for each panel. (Sample script will be provided to assist with formatting)
  2. Create roughdraft of comics pages using script or outline as guide. Sketch panels in pencil. Consider using a variety of long-shots, medium- shots, and close-up shots. (See "Comics Terminology" handout)
  3. Review and edit textual/visual elements of the roughdraft. Note changes in the margins of the page or make quick sketches of panels that may need to be re-worked in the final draft.  
  4. Carefully pencil final draft. Use visual reference materials to assist in drawing challenging or culturally specific images.
  5. Add text/captions. Draw in speech and thought balloons, as well as captions. Carefully pencil in the text.
  6. Ink panels and text. When draft is complete in pencil, ink over panels, letters, and images with fine art pens/ thin sharpies and india ink. 

SAMPLE II. Body Paragraphs: Art as Information

Grade(s):  3-5

Arts Medium: Creative Movement/Dance

Academic Subject: Information Writing

Unit Description: Students will explore the basic vocabularies of visual art and dance and use this vocabulary to communicate information, ideas, and feelings about things in they observe in the world around them. Using words, imagery, and movement, they will create individual and group movement compositions that reflect the 3-part structure of informational writing. As in writing, students will compose and revise their work, receiving feedback from one another as the work evolves. Reader’s Theatre techniques will be used to bring voice to their final presentations.

Essential Question:

  • How can dance and other artistic mediums serve as pathways for helping students communicate more effectively?
  • In what ways do writing and arts concepts relate to one another?
  • How can visual art and dance skills be applied to enhance student understanding of academic subjects and empower students to think about their learning processes in fresh, dynamic ways?

 Arts Learning Objectives:

1. Students will learn the fundamental language of visual narrative (words, pictures, icons, etc.) and apply it to communicate ideas and facts. Students will compose visual narratives with a 3-part structure (introduction, body, conclusion).

2. Students will explore creative movement and dance as a mode of communication, composing individual “phrases” and “sentences” that represent their ideas about selected topics. Students will work cooperatively, using creative movement & dance to compose presentations that reflect the 3 part structure used in informational writing.

3. Students will learn and apply basic techniques of Reader’s Theatre to add voice to their final presentations.

4. Students apply 21st century skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, perseverance) and artist habits of mind to practice and development of dance compositions.

UNIT OUTLINE

Session One: Comics—words, pictures & information

  • Cartoons & Comics
  • Words + Pictures + Sequence + Juxtaposition = Visual Narrative
  • Characters/objects in action—What is the character/object doing?
  • 3-part structure: beginning/intro, middle/body, end/conclusion

Introduction and Overview: Over the next few weeks we will be making Comics, Dance, and doing Reader’s Theatre.

  • Cue Students: “Everything that we do during our time together will be related to art making and writing. Later, I will ask you to make connections between the ball toss game and art—between making a comic and writing an essay.”

Opener—Silent Ball/Name Game: Each member of the class will carefully toss a ball to another; the goal is to successfully get the ball into each person’s hands without anyone making a sound. If someone makes a sound or drops the ball they have to take a freeze shape until the round is complete. If the tosser throws the ball without control (too far or too short) they must take a freeze shape and hold. 

Display Sample Comic for the class.

  • Have student volunteers read the text aloud for the rest of the group.
  • Ask the class to share their ideas about what is being depicted.

“So what is a comic? What are the main parts of a comic? What is the purpose of a comic—what is it trying to do?”

  • Key Point: Comics use words and pictures to communicate ideas and information.
  • The comics author/artist must use words and pictures with care so that the reader can make connections between each panel in the story and understand what is going on. Making the ideas clear is the most important thing.

HELP STUDENTS MAKE CONNECTIONS:

The primary purpose of informational writing is to communicate FACTS.

Like other forms of writing (including comics), informational writing has a 3-art structure.

“Now we are going to work in teams to create some short comics that give facts about a topic. We will use the 4 Seasons as the theme for our initial exercise. 

Assign one season to table groups of four, then ask students to briefly pair share with a partner facts that they know about their particular season. 

Model the difference between fact and opinion ("In summer, the weather is hot." as opposed to "Summer is a fun season.")

Have each pair write as many facts as they can on note cards using complete sentences (3 Minutes).

Remind them that as they begin to compose their Season Comic that they may use and share facts on any of the cards generated by members of their group. 

Exploration 1. Four Seasons Comic: In groups of four, students create original 4 panel comics on Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. Each panel must use words and pictures to communicate a fact about the season.

Formative Assessment Checkpoint 1:

Learning Objective 1: Students will learn the fundamental language of visual narrative (words, pictures, icons, etc.) and apply it to communicate ideas and facts.

Working cooperatively, students will compose comics with a 3-part structure (introduction, body, conclusion).

Assessment Criteria 1: Individually and in groups, students will compose short picture narratives that communicate factual information about selected topics. Visual narratives will employ words and pictures.

Formative Assessment Process: Roam, observe, listen as students work, observing how students approach the task and whether or not they have understood the instructions. Support or clarify as needed.

Have students share their work.

Closing Questions:

  • What is the purpose of informational writing?
  • What is the main purpose of a comic or visual narrative?
  • What are the 3 parts of an informational essay?
  • What are the 3 main components of a comics page?

SESSION 2: WORDS, PICTURES, & INFORMATION II

CHECK-IN & REVIEW

OPENERS:

  • Card Houses: Artist Habits of Mind

THINK ABOUT IT:

Pair share: How is building a house of cards like making a work of art?

  • What qualities or behaviors did you observe when building your house of cards that might be useful when making art? What qualities or behaviors might get in the way?

EXPLORATION 1: 4 SEASON COMICS (CONTINUED)

Formative Assessment Checkpoint 1:

Learning Objective 4 Students apply 21st century skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, perseverance) and artist habits of mind to practice and development of dance compositions.

Assessment Criteria 4:  Students express thoughts and ideas about their art orally and in writing. Students participate actively, bringing focus, persistence, and a willingness to try new and challenging things. 

Process: Roam, observe, listen as students work, observing how students approach the task and whether or not they have understood the instructions. Support or clarify as needed.

SESSION 3: GROUND WORK & EIGHT BASIC STEPS IN CREATIVE DANCE

(artist habits of mind, body moves, shapes, pathways, levels, self & general space)

CHECK-IN & REVIEW

WARM-UP: “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?”

Have group stand or sit in a circle. Choose one person to enter. Person 1 starts to make a clear motion that indicates an activity such as combing hair. The person to the leader’s left enters and asks the leader, “What are you doing?” The leader responds by claiming that he/she is doing something different that he/she is actually doing. For example, “”I’m mowing the lawn.” Person 2 says, “Oh” and begins making the motion of mowing the lawn. Person #3 enters and the process repeats until everyone has had a turn.

End round with everyone sitting again.

Exploring How We Will Use & Behave In Our Dance Space:

  • Imaginary Wall: Choosing safe/appropriate areas to dance in
  • Finding a Perfect Spot-Near & Far: Personal bubbles for exercises and self-space movement
  • Eye and Ear Test: Looking for barren areas within the dance space & listening for directional cues
  • Circle Up: Quick alertness for preparatory or closing instruction and discussions

Dance Lesson Structure:

  • Present an Element
  • Provide opportunity for student experimentation
  • Use the element in a simple form

Practicing Elements of Dance

Using visual aid, introduce students to the Four Elements: Body, Space, Force, Time

ASK STUDENTS if they are familiar with the 2 TYPES OF SPACE used in dance.

Self-Space (dancing in place) & General Space (dancing through the common space in which one is practicing or performing)

EXPLORATION 2: MOVE  & FREEZE:

“Let’s practice using these two types of space. We’ll start by simply walking. When you walk, try to stay as far away from others as possible, always keeping space (Pathways) between your body and your neighbors’. Make sure that as a group, we are always using the whole room., okay?

“Sometimes, as you walk, I will call out ‘FREEZE’ and I want you to stop where you are and take an interesting statue shape.”

Practice for a 4-5 minutes. Then increase difficulty.

EXPLORATION 3: EIGHT BASIC STEPS OF CREATIVE MOVEMENT

Introduce 8 Basic Steps in Creative Dance: WALK, RUN, LEAP, JUMP, HOP, GALLOP, SKIP, SLIDE--using a move and freeze structure. Students listen and engage in each movement as it is called out. Punctuate movements by having students freeze and do a “personal dance” in self-space.

CLOSING: Have class circle up for final check-in.

REFLECTION PROMPTS: How does your body feel? What movements were most interesting? Which were difficult? Does anyone see any relationship yet between dance and writing?

Formative Assessment Checkpoint 2:

Learning Objective 2: Students will explore creative movement and dance as a mode of communication, composing individual “phrases” and “sentences” that represent their ideas about selected topics.

In groups, they will connect these ideas to make presentations that reflect the 3-part structure used in informational writing.

Assessment Criteria 2: Class work cooperatively to learn dance skills and performance techniques. Ensembles will compose short dance presentations that communicate ideas about a factual topic using the body as the means of transmission. Dancers will focus on their own bodies/process, communicate without speaking, and work together to get their message across to an audience.  

Process: Reverse room scan to check that students are engaged and actively experimenting with a variety of movements. Look for signs of focus and concentration (not talking or engaged in other distracting behaviors). Give gentle reminders and encouragements as needed.

SESSION 4: CHOREOGRAPHY & THREE PART STRUCTURE (shapes, levels, self & general space, pathways, energies, focus, 3 part structure)

SESSION 5: BODY PARAGRAPHS ENSEMBLE PLANNING & PRACTICE

CHECK-IN & REVIEW

Have students sit with members of their ensemble group. Pass out Choreography Self-Help Notes and discuss with the class how the sheet is to be used.

EXPLAIN: Think of your dance as a story that has characters, settings, actions, and emotion.

EXPLORE:

  • What feelings come to mind when you think of these things?    
  •  Like an Informational essay, your choreography should have 3 parts.

Hook the audience with your introduction. Present Facts in the Body Paragraphs (shapes, levels, self & general space, pathways, freezes; different energies or speed of movement). Repeat movements (information) from the beginning in your conclusion.

Introduction

Body Paragraphs

Conclusion

Individual and Whole group Movements

Self & General Space

Characters

Objects

Settings

Feelings

Solos, Duets, Trios

Self & General Space

Characters

Objects

Settings

Feelings

Individual and Whole Group Movements

Self & General Space

Characters

Objects

Settings

Feelings

 

Formative Assessment Checkpoint 1:

Learning Objective 4 Students apply 21st century skills (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, perseverance) and artist habits of mind to practice and development of dance compositions.

Assessment Criteria 4:  Students express thoughts and ideas about their art orally and in writing. Students participate actively, bringing focus, persistence, and a willingness to try new and challenging things. 

Process: Roam, observe, listen as students work, observing how students approach the task and whether or not they have understood the instructions. Support or clarify as needed.

SMALL GROUP EXPLORATION: Give each group about 20 minutes to discuss and explore then have each group present their “work-in-progress” to peers and teacher for feedback and support.

Remind observers about proper conduct for audience (active attention, still bodies, silence, etc.)

EXPLAIN that when giving feedback, we will use the “sandwich” method:

  • Begins with something positive that you noticed.
  • Give critical feedback/helpful notes
  • End with encouraging words.

Formative Assessment Checkpoint 2:

Learning Objective 2: Students will explore creative movement and dance as a mode of communication, composing individual “phrases” and “sentences” that represent their ideas about selected topics.

In groups, they will connect these ideas to make presentations that reflect the 3-part structure used in informational writing.

Assessment Criteria 2: Class work cooperatively to learn dance skills and performance techniques. Ensembles will compose short dance presentations that communicate ideas about a factual topic using the body as the means of transmission. Dancers will focus on their own bodies/process, communicate without speaking, and work together to get their message across to an audience.  

Formative Process: Roam, observing and listening to groups as they discuss and practice. Look for signs of focus and commitment (groups talking and listening to one another, individuals quietly practicing their own movements and sharing with others). Reverse room scan to check that students are engaged and actively experimenting with a variety of movements. Give individual and group support as needed.

SESSION 6-8: BODY PARAGRAPHS ENSEMBLE PRACTICE

SAMPLE III. Drawing From the Holocaust

Lesson Plan: Using Survivor Testimony (By Lin Lucas & Lindsey Mutschler)

Comics:  Images juxtaposed in deliberate sequence in order to convey an idea and/or aesthetic response. - Scott McCloud

Lesson can be adapted for grades 5-12

RATIONALE

This activity will prompt students to engage with online testimony of Holocaust survivors and pictorial artifacts. Through studying the primary source documents available on the website, students will identify key elements of survivor testimony and create a comic to illustrate a "small moment" from a testimony. Students will learn about history, writing, editing, design, and teamwork all at the same time through the creation of their comic.

Why comics? Comics convey stories in a way that fully engage students like no other media. In the article The Use of Comics in Holocaust Education, researcher Robert G. Weiner is quoted as saying, "With the sequential art format you are engaged with both sides of the brain, by interpreting the visual with the right brain and the narrative with the left."1

OBJECTIVES

  • Students will identify key elements of survivor testimony.
  • Students will analyze primary source documents, including photographs and oral testimony.
  • Students will create an original one-page comic which reflects survivor testimony.
  • Students will examine concepts and themes present in survivor testimony.
  • Students will follow story beginnings and endings, plot, characters, time and setting, and
  • sequencing.
  • Students will make connections between the Holocaust survivor stories and related
  • contemporary issues.

REQUIREMENTS

  • Materials: 
  • Access to internet and WSHERC website: http://www.wsherc.org/teaching/testimonies/
  • 11"x14" card stock or bristol paper, pencils, erasers, drawing pens or thin sharpies, black india
  • ink, small brushes, rulers*
  • Copies of handouts:  "Comics Terminology" and "Critique talking points" from www.teaching comics.org

*Or, access to ComicLife or ComicCreator software if creating digital comics

Time:  Three to four 45-minute class sessions.

TECHNIQUES AND SKILLS

Large-group discussion, small-group work, interpreting visual history testimony, brainstorming, reading for comprehension and information, analyzing primary source materials, drafting out storyboards, editing text and drawings, critiquing finished work.

PROCEDURES

Step 1: Students view online testimony and accompanying documents.

In small groups of 3-5, students should explore the testimony, timeline, and photographs of each of the survivors documented online. You might also assign each group a specific survivor.  As they explore, students should pay particular attention in order to identify a "small moment" to zoom in on and explore further in their comic. 

http://today.ttu.edu/2011/03/the-use-of-comics-in-holocaust-education/#

Step 2: Discuss key moments and themes.

After students have explored the online content, facilitate a whole-class discussion. What similarities did you find between each of the voices online? What were some of the differences? Why do you think each particular memory stood out most for the survivor? How would you describe the tone of each story? How did the accompanying photographs, map, and timeline add to your understanding of the testimony?

Step 3: Outline storyboard.

Each group should agree on a small moment or aspect of a testimony to make into a one-page comic illustration. How many panels are needed to communicate this moment/story? What size will each panel be? (See attached handout for different standard panel layouts.) What text, dialogue, or captions will go in each panel? This can be done as an individual activity, or with the panels divided between each group member and brought together as one finished product.

Step 4: Research online

Groups should seek additional primary source photos of ghettos, camps,  and other locations or details relevant to the online testimony. These photos can be printed and used as source images for the panel drawings, or saved and used directly if making digital comics. If directly using the photographs in digital comics, students should chose photographs that are available for free-use.

Encourage students to use the photographs and maps available on the WSHERC testimony pagesand properly attribute the source in their comic. Here is another great sources of archivalimages: 

Gallery of Holocaust Images   http://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/resource/gallery/gallery.htm

Step 5: Create comic

  1. Write script. Students should outline what will be said in dialogue or captions for each panel.
  2. Sketch panels in pencil. After panel layout is selected, students should determine what images will correspond with the text for each panel. Consider using a variety of long-shots, medium- shots, and close-up shots. (See attached "Comics Terminology" handout)
  3. Add text/captions. Draw in speech and thought balloons, as well as captions. Carefully pencil in the text.
  4. Ink panels and text. When draft is complete in pencil, ink over panels, letters, and images with fine art pens/ thin sharpies and india ink.

 Step 6: Critique final comics.

Modifications and adaptations:

  • Comics can be adapted as individual or group projects
  • As an precursor to this activity, students can view and discuss sections from Maus, by Art
  • Spiegelman. Discuss how Spiegelman conveys his story through drawings. How does he capture "small moments"? How does the comic medium complicate or simplify his narrative?
  • As a shorter activity, students can create the comic digitally using software such as Comic Life of Comic Creator.  If using online photographs to create digital comics, it's important to teach students about using free-source images or properly attributing images to their original source. An easy way to include this information is to use a "caption" to position the citation at the bottom of the panel.

 Other helpful resources on teaching comics:

• Drawing Words & Writing Pictures by Jessical Abel and Matt Madden (online companion resource

at: www.dw-wp.com)

• Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud

• The Graphic Classroom - www.thegraphicclassroom.org

• Example of middle school students at KIPP Academy who created the online comic Dark Memories:  The Story of the Holocaust:

http://www.ezcomics.com/site/sites/all/themes/ezcomics_new/view_comics.php?

email=&viewid=84