Connecting with reluctant readers...
My brother, Eric, and I got along famously as children. It might have been because we were so very different. We each had our own ways to shine. I was artistic, a strong reader, and nurturing. He was athletic, mechanically inclined, and outgoing. If it involved going fast, he was all in! Sitting still to read was not his strong suit.
Two book series, however, were a game changer for him: the Choose Your Own Adventure series and the TinTin Comics. Each of his favorites has shaped an element of Go2Science but I'm going to focus on the latter for now.
- Comics are fun to look at! Children can engage with them even if reading is hard. They create a risk-free way to engage with a story without having to actually be a fluent reader. Ironically, this increased time with text often leads children to want to read. Maybe just a sound effect at first; but eventually the story draws them in and they start attending to text.
- Comics are flexible! If you are a young reader, reading from top to bottom, left to right, page by page can be constraining. While comics follow this convention they also allow kids to pick and choose. They can loop back and re-read. They can read in layers. It's for this reason, I think comics have value for all emergent readers as a sort of training for the type of reading we do online or environmentally.
- Comics are fast! There is less of a commitment involved in starting to look at a comic than opening up a chapter book or even a picture book. The story is broken down into bite-size pieces. Think of each frame or even each speech bubble as a micro goal. A student has a sense of accomplishment for reading any part. This sets up a positive feedback loop that seems to draw kids in and keep them there.
We designed our comic to be engaging to an extremely wide range of readers. Early Emergent or pre-readers can read the pictures and decode the sound effects. Emergent readers can focus on the speech bubbles. Readers that are more fluent can access the text boxes and synthesize the whole frame. As an educator, you are freed from having to assign certain levels to certain children as everyone has an access point and every student can get the "cool book." Our new artist, Ben Matsuya, has given the comic an incredible look and feel. PLUS, he's done a great job attending to all the scientific details Curtis includes.
This year we are also providing the full fame per page in an uncolored version so your students can color their own big book if they wish. While the days of spending hours of the school day coloring are long past, sometimes there is still a time and place for such a soothing activity.
We'll post an installment each week while the mission is live. In the days of binge watching, this is an opportunity for students to wait with anticipation for the next part of the adventure. We'll also share tips for integrating the comic into instruction.
Meet Beth and Curtis!
Presidential Award-Winning teacher and hula hoop fanatic, Beth loves bringing real world science to kids! Beth is fascinated by engineering challenges, technology, and outdoor learning spaces. After 25 years teaching kindergarten, she’s excited to share her passion and experience on-line with classrooms from around the world!
Curtis is a lot of things: a scientist, lawyer, explorer, drummer and Ironman. His brain is always churning. His paleontological finds are in museums across the country and he even has an extinct sea turtle named after him. He loves traveling the world and immersing himself in new environments and cultures. Curtis finds joy in sparking the imagination of young learners and making them think in new ways.