Grammar and Usage: Grammar Comics
As an English teacher, I always found grammar to be a tough sell for kids. They weren't really all that interested in it for one thing. Identifying the parts of speech and fixing run-ons and fragments has never been the most exciting part of language arts. Frequently kids would ask, when are we ever going to use this? (a valid question) or we learned this in third grade. Why are we still doing it in high school? The answer to the second question is embedded in the first: we still teach grammar in high school because students don't learn it the first time, finding no value in it.
However, grammar is important, and teachers shouldn't neglect it just because students find it boring. The Grammar Comics! series came out of a desire to bring a little life and entertainment to the study of grammar in the hopes that it would engage students in the learning of their language. Of course, making grammar fun has been tried before, mainly by matronly English writers who condescendingly make bad grammar a sign of moral decay. Grammar Comics!, however, is designed to meet kids where they are.
Each cartoon teaches a particular concept with humor and wit to accomplish two goals. First, we all know that when students are actively engaged in a lesson, they will learn more. These cartoons are designed to help kids get interested in the topic. Perhaps more importantly, these cartoons will present a concept with a visual that will help embed the lesson in the students' minds. When remembering the difference between active and passive voice, the students can recall the messy kitchen from the drawings that demonstrate the distinction.
These cartoons can be used on their own, but are also designed to follow the Sentence Lifter sequence of instruction. If you would like more specific, direct instruction on these concepts, I encourage you to purchase Mark Pennington's Teaching Grammar and Mechanics, which is the book from which these cartoons originated. Of course, they can also be used with whatever grammar instruction you already use. I am pleased to hear about the creative ways teachers have used them already; many of them have their students create their own cartoons to demonstrate other grammar concepts.
Thus after a wayward youth spent reading comic strips and MAD Magazine and a stint in college as a cartoonist on the school newspaper, I ventured into the classroom to teach students how to read and write. Grammar Comics! combined my love of both and I am pleased at how well they have been received. I hope you and your students enjoy using them as much as I did creating them.
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© 2014 David Rickert
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