Spider-man, Catwoman help first graders build up reading, writing skills

January 13th, 2008 - 11:45 am ICT by admin  

Washington, Jan 13 (ANI): Studying comic books can effectively help first grade children build up their reading and writing skills.

An innovative initiative by a first-grade teacher, who teaches with comics in the class, compelled Portland State University professor Jason Ranker to examine how comic books helped in developing literacy skills among first graders.

Ranker joined sixteen bilingual students one to two mornings each week to monitor how their teacher developed their sophisticated literacy skills by reading comics to her class.

Several researchers have noted the use of simplistic or reductionistic pedagogy when teaching reading to English-language learners, said Ranker.

This teacher didnt settle for that approach. Instead, she demonstrated that comic books can help students understand story structure, distinguish between dialogue and narration, and explore broader media issuesin this case, gender stereotypes, he added.

The teacher used a Spider-Man story to demonstrate how problem-solution scenarios can make a story interesting. Students started using the technique in generating their own stories that could have a superhero, or not.

The story of Hulk and Catwoman opened the issue of gender and a students question, Who is stronger, Catwoman or Hulk? initiated a healthy discussion about the strength portrayed and a search for a female superhero, Wild Girl, whose version of strength differed from the Hulks.

Ranker saw that the students would refer to their pop culture knowledge for their in-school literacy activities.

Movies, music, comic books, and video games tell stories in their own ways. They create familiar territory for students to learn about how stories are told. As the teacher guides them through the story, students also get insights into their own reading and writing practices, said Ranker.

He said that use of comics could also motivate reluctant readers.

Because they have the capacity to increase interest and motivation, comic books are an effective way of increasing reading comprehension and comprehension strategies,” Ranker added.

The highly visual texts of comics can effectively guide second language learners with its visual support even when they may not have the aspect of the relevant target language that they might need in the given instructional context. (ANI)

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