Teaching with Chester Comix
In this day of endless electronic stimulation, comic books can pull students back to the printed word.
Comic books are a unique American art form: they are not a novel (all text) and not a movie or TV (usually visual) but a careful mix of text and visuals. The text and the pictures work together, and their meaning can deepen with the use of the gutter-the empty space between the panels-which creates undefined space in the story. The unique mix of text, art and gutter makes comics a special tool for reaching both lower- and higher-skilled readers.
Lower skilled readers enjoy the way color and action make the pictures part of the story. These readers can use the visual clues to decode the meaning of the story and learn some of the complicated vocabulary they will be tested on. Pictures of aliens are used to teach them about “inalienable rights.” An image of George Washington on a surfboard reinforce the content lesson that as president he had to carefully balance between the first two political parties in America.
High-level readers will absorb the interesting details woven into the Chester stories. Will they catch the joke behind the name of the colonial coffee shop? What about the song Chester sings at the end of an episode? Hey, Nathaniel Bacon’s gravestone has a frying pan on it! High-level readers will also enjoy predicting what happens next. Predicting is a key component of comics: it happens between each panel. The readers own imagination fills in the action, sights and sounds that carry the story from one panel to the next.
Follow Chester below to learn more about how you can bring Chester Comix into your classroom and enhance learning for everyone!
Creative (Process) Trail
I speak to kids and teachers in dozens of schools each year about how I create Chester Comix, and I emphasize that my creative process looks like what students do in their own writing exercises. They think my work is fun, but behind Chester’s adventures is the same hard work of researching, rough drafting, writing, and revising that they do. You and your students can click on the claw to hopscotch through my website and see how my author’s choices work!