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Beyond the Bubbles: Critical Thinking & ESL Through Comics Creation

Jacqueline Gardy, Dan Ryder — Jacquie: Content Development Editor, Innovations Team, U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Office of English Language Programs; Dan: Director of the Success & Innovation Center, Mt. Blue High School, Farmington, Maine

There are a number of books written about the making of comic books and graphic novels, several about the benefits of teaching comics, and even a number of materials written about the value of comics for helping learners develop English language skills. Over the last decade comic books have transitioned from niche market to the engine of popular culture. This rise in the medium has prompted a discussion on the educational potential of comic books and graphic novels. To date, there has not been a resource written specifically to help English language educators across the globe use the act of creating and writing comics to help develop critical thinking, problem solving, and language skills together.

In the Office of English Language Programs, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, at the U.S. Department of State, our Content Development and Innovations team has created a media-rich resource manual for this purpose,serving as an essential toolkit for TESOL educators and field practitioners to assist students in creating their own comic books for learning and promoting English language learning through visual literacy.

In this conversation, participants will learn how to make comics infused with the opportunities for teachers to make an impact worldwide through people-to-people connections among students and teachers, and will discover how English language teaching plays an important role in public diplomacy and strengthening our communities at home. Participants will discuss how we might foster mutual understanding and engage in through collaboration that transcends borders, cultures, and distance.

Conversational Practice

During this conversational practice, participants will explore four ways students might product comics through a variety of different materials and media to demonstrate deeper learning and understanding. Participants will leave with experience creating comics of their own, as well as having discussed the power of comics creation as tools for deeper understanding and equity in all learning environments — with particular value for ESL spaces.

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