Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Comic Book Research Paper

Rationale: The writing of a research paper can often times be a laborious process for both student and teacher alike. Sadly, many students find the process so mind-numbing that the only long term outcome of the paper is that it scares away many potential writers (who post-research look at writing as a chore).

After reading Minx Comix's “The Plain Janes” with a few of my 11th graders we had a great afternoon conversation about the main character's belief that “ART SAVES.” Within a year this replaced the traditional research paper question.

I found that my students interest in researching different artistic genres to defend their positions really brought new life to the research phase of the paper construction.

Below I'll present my frontloading activities the requirements of my research paper. Our school requires MLA format, but you may substitute any citation style.

Grade Levels/ Content Area(s): Middle School, High School/ Language Arts- English


Objective: Students will be able to construct a research paper on an assigned question with individually collected data.

Time Alloted: Depending on class length. 3 90 minute class or 6 45 minute classes.

Materials: The Plain Janes (vol.1)

Vocabulary: research, data, citation, works cited, reference

Anticipatory Set: Before reading “The Plain Janes,” have students consider/discuss the following questions:

-To you, what does the word “community” mean?

-In your opinion, what is art?

-What kind of art appeals to you?

-In the broadest sense, what does it mean to be saved?

-Can art save a person? If “yes,” how?

*You may also consider showing students images of visual art (architecture, paintings, etc.), or recordings of literature and music before asking the questions above.


Direct Teaching:
After you feel as though students are ready to move on, assign “The Plain Janes.” The reading usually takes my high school students 2 45 minute class periods.

Once students have completed the reading we approach the frontloading questions again. After some discussion, I assign the following papers:

RESEARCH PAPER
After reading the graphic novel “The Plain Janes,” support or refute the claim made throughout that “ART SAVES.”

To defend your position, select two (3) works of visual art (paintings, illustration, sculpture, architecture), music, or prose (poetry, lyrics, short story, portions of a novel) to defend your stance (or one of each). Each piece must be accompanied by a documented analysis of the work from a reputable source (published reviews are recommended).

Paper Expectations:

-5 page minimum (double-spaced)
-parenthetical reference (the book and research texts)
-reference page in MLA format

*Don't forget to factor in time for research and writing workshops.

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