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A couple of weeks ago, I was helping a friend find short stories to adapt in the graphic medium for a college course that she is teaching. I have some experience with that since last semester I did a similar project, having my students adapt parts of classic short stories into comic script pages.
I think the experience is valuable even for students not in a comics or graphic novel course. The process of taking words and translating them for a visual medium is not as easy as you would imagine, for while we infer background, setting elements, and most aspects of character, transferring our imagination to the page for an artist to draw relies heavily on our ability to use imagery, produce/create inferences that make sense, and understand pacing…among many, many other skills.
Fast-forward to today; this morning I was looking at classic short stories for my Best Selling Novels class to write on for their final exam, and I came across a web site that lists (and has links to) twenty-four classic tales perfect for ELA classroom analysis or a comics scripting project. If you want to check out the site click here.
These short stories vary greatly in theme, genre, and length, so they make great additions to classroom unit plans. If you have never experimented with students creating adaptations in your classroom, I highly suggest it. I had a group of kids turn Hamlet into a story about wolves, where each wolf/character had a different color coat that symbolized that particular character’s motivation(s). And if you are ambitious enough, you can work to get your class adaptations published or just work with the art department at your school and partner up! I had a friend teaching sophomore English pair with the AP Studio Art class to collaboratively create Beowulf adaptations that turned out to be fantastic and inspiring for all involved.
Take a risk. Break the mold.
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