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Running Head: An Introduction to Graphic Novels

An Introduction to Graphic Novels: A 9/10 Grade ELA Lesson Plan

Heather Pratt
University of Maine at Augusta

Graphic Novel and Short Story Unit (ELA 9/10)
*This is for a class that I teach on Literary Genres. It is a sophomore-level course offers an
introduction to the study and exploration of different genres.

Standards Addressed
College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that
listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style
are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
Comprehension and Collaboration
Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups,
and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others'
ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study;
explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research
on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.
Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal
consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and
deadlines, and individual roles as needed.
Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current
discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the
discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions.
Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and
disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding
and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.

Principle/Enduring Understandings
Texts and images are not mutually exclusive ways of telling a story (they can be used

An Introduction to Graphic Novels

Facts/Conceptual Knowledge
Know the difference between a comic, manga, and a graphic novel.
Skills/Procedural Knowledge
Explain the difference between a comic, manga, and a graphic novel.
Participate effectively in a small group and a large group discussion by clearly expressing
ones own ideas and opinions while also recognizing the ideas and opinions of others.
Present information clearly and coherently to a group.

Materials, Texts, and Technology

Each student must bring in a physical copy of their choice text
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
Maus, Art Spiegelman
Stitches, David Small
American-Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang
Epileptic, David B.
4 copies of Manga (either physical or digital). Some of my student read Manga and so I will ask
them to bring some copies in if they have them!
A comic of the students choosing (they need to bring a copy in for homework!).
Laptop or iPad (to digitally access manga if they need to) or to digitally take notes.
Writers Notebooks (my students use Writers Notebooks to informally record their thoughts,
ideas, and prewriting during the year. I collect them a few times a quarter to make sure that they
are keeping up with entries and to see their growth as writers. I do not asses them for
grammar/style. The notebooks offer an opportunity for kids to freely write and to hash out their

Instructional Plan
Frontloading Activity

Writers Notebooks: Reflecting on the Components of a Comic: Students will come in

with their comic strip that they either printed or cut out from the local newspaper. I will
ask them to write the following journal entry in their Writers Notebooks (these are their
notebooks that I have them write in for various class activities).
Look at your comic strip (that you brought in for homework) and tell me what qualities it
has. How does it differ from a novel or a picture book? (5 minutes)

Students Share Their Comics and Their Entries with the Class: I will ask for volunteers to
share their journal entry. Students who volunteer to share will pass their comic around so
that the other students can look at it. This is my opportunity to see if the students have the

An Introduction to Graphic Novels

schema to move forward (I am looking to see that they have noticed the central
components of a comic like thought bubbles and frames) (10 minutes).

Preview and Purpose Setting

Review of Learning Objectives: I go over with the class what we are going to do today
and what our learning objectives are. By the end of class today, you should know the
difference between a comic, manga, and a graphic novel. By examining the differences
and similarities between the genres, we will eventually craft our own definition of a
graphic novel. We are going to do x, y, and z to help you accomplish these tasks. I will
write these objectives on the board as well as say them verbally (5 minutes).

Ms. Pratt Models How to Create Venn Diagram and Look at the 3 Texts: I will model what I
want students to do in their groups by playing the student and sitting with a pod (my desks
are arranged in groups of 4 and we call them pods). I will draw a 3-bubble venn diagram on a big
piece of paper, take out my graphic novel, my comic, and the manga copy that each group will
have, and I start to talk to my group about what I think the similarities and differences are
between both. I try to integrate the other group members into the discussion by using the
sentence starters that Ms. Pratt has written on the board. (5 minutes).
Sentence Starters

I notice _____________
X seems similar to y because ____________
I wonder why ___________is here but not here.
Do you think that x is like y? Why?

Activities and Purposes

Pods Discuss and Create Venn Diagram: Pods discuss the similarities and differences between
graphic novels, manga, and comics and create a venn diagram outlining their thinking. Ms. Pratt
walks around the room to help each group (keep them on task, prompt them with questions,
participate in the discussion). (20-30 minutes).
Pods Present Their Venn Diagrams to the Class: Each pod shares their work with the class and
hangs their poster on the wall (5 minutes).
Full Class Discussion: Based upon the information that they just presented, the class must come
up with a definition of a graphic novel as well as a list of main components of a graphic novel.
We all need to agree, so this is an opportunity for kids to hash out their opinions and to think
critically (10 minutes).

An Introduction to Graphic Novels

Wrap Up and Reinforcement

Definition Poster: One group writes our definition on a poster and we hang the definition
up at the front of the classroom. We can revisit the poster as we read our graphic novels
in our literature circles (10 minutes).

Independent Tasks (to follow up on lesson)

Reading and Lit Circle Work: Students will be instructed to complete their graphic novel
reading and to fill out their literature circle handout (I will assign lit circle jobs and give
each group a reading assignment before they leave!). Next class, I will ask students if
they still agree with their definition after they have completed one night of reading.

Assessment of Student Learning

Observing the Group Discussions: I will assess the speaking and listening standards by observing
each group and jotting down notes on each individual student. Because the group discussions
only last for 30 minutes, I will just check to see that the students are demonstrating proficiency in
at least a few of the substandards A-D (not all of them). This will be recorded as a part of their
speaking and listening grade.

Context of Larger Unit Plan

This lesson is a first lesson in a 17-lesson unit on graphic novels and short stories. Students get to
choose from a list of 4 graphic novels. Students let me know their top choices and I assign
students Literature Circles based upon their choices. Every night, each lit circle will have
assigned reading and each member will have to complete a lit circle job. Students should come
prepared every day to present their lit circle work to guide their group discussion. Every day, I
will begin class with a mini-lesson on a graphic novel component (frame, speech bubbles, etc.),
the groups will meet to discuss their reading, and the groups will complete a frame that
describes what they read the night before.
Once we completed the graphic novels, I will introduce short stories, we will read a few short
stories, and we will discuss the components of a short story. At the conclusion of the unit,
students will create their own graphic novels based upon a short story of their choosing
(basically, they are rewriting short stories as graphic novels). I have a list of short stories that
they can choose from. Students will read their short story, write a script for it to convert it into
graphic novel form, create a graphic novel based upon the story, and will present their work to
the class. This lesson plan is the introductory lesson of the unit.