It's that time of year again at Brook Hill (the school where I teach) when we take a week off from typical courses and all dive into "alternative" courses. We call it SPARC, which stands for Spring Potential and Reality Courses.
The premise is that each teacher comes up with a class they'd like to teach for a solid week and advertises it to the student body. Then, students sign up for what interests them. This year there were courses that ranged from educational trips to Washington DC, NYC, London, south Texas, and California, to courses on campus ranging from digital scrap booking, coaching, photography, film making, military tactics, gun safety, and cooking (well, GRILLING!).
The past two years I have taken a bicycle trip around East Texas, but this year I wanted to offer something on campus that was inexpensive and open to middle schoolers. I thought through all my interests and decided to create a course on comics. I thought, "I DO read a lot of graphic novels. I could turn that into a class of some sort." So I came up with Understanding and Creating Comics.
And ten people actually signed up.
I was pretty thrilled about it, because I was thinking it would be a bust. So this week with my handful of students we've been
1. Discussing the basic art/theory/philosophy that goes into comics.
2. Discussing (and watching videos) that explain the general process of scripting, penciling, inking, lettering comics.
3. Reading graphic novels and writing brief journal entries about our discoveries and thoughts of our selected books.
4. Working on our own original stories.
After three days of this, I see that much of what I planned had less to do with me instructing about comics and to do with the students exploring and discovering what comics really are and what they like or dislike about them. I'm not sure of what the students exactly think about what we're doing this week; however, I DO see that the ideas they're coming up with and the stories they're actually producing are varied, fun, creative, and, quite honestly, impressive. By week's end, each student will have something to show for their time in the class--something that shows the results of their learning (I hope), but also of their creativity and efforts.
Be on the look out: I'll post the stories here as we have them completed.