Boldprint Kids Graphic Readers Help K-3 Students Learn Math
Math is one of those subjects that students will make judgments about pretty early on in their academic career. It's not so much the math they make a judgment about--it's their ability to do math. It's sad when kids make these kinds of judgments about themselves early on, or when parents makes such judgments for them (e.g. "Don't worry, I wasn't very good at math either").
A great resource for the K-3 math classroom is the Boldprint Kids Graphic Readers series from Rubicon/Oxford. These readers speak directly to the most common curricula found in the primary grades.
What's the Problem, for instance, looks at rudimentary problem solving of the sort that students in Grade 3 would engage in, while Hoop Shot helps to support students doing the measurement unit in Grade 1. Indeed, all of the readers in the series are designed specifically to provide a visual narrative that helps to support a child's development in one of their core subject areas, like mathematics, science, and social studies.
You can find this award-winning series at their official website.
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Time is winding down to my workshop presentations at the annual CITE conference being held at Upper Canada College in Toronto. In one of the presentations, I'll be looking at the graphic memoir, specifically focusing on works in which travel plays a role. Here's the workshop description in case you missed it in my previous blog post.
As I've prepared for the workshop I've begun to see that we can learn a great deal not only from the far ranging travel of artists like Guy Delisle and investigative journalists like Joe Sacco but from the kinds of journeys much closer to home, both literal and metaphorical, of writers like Julie Delporte and Sarah Leavitt.
It has also led me to think about what we learn from others when we travel--from those we meet on our journeys, from those who travel with us, and even from those we leave behind. I've previously discussed my great fondness for Etienne Davodeau's The Initiates, a story where Davodeau asks to learn the art of wine-making from vineyard owner, Richard Leroy, with the latter reciprocating by learning about the graphic novel trade. However, in thinking about why I love the story so much, it suddenly struck me that so many of their interactions are punctuated by sharing a bottle of wine. This is the case right from the very start of the graphic novel.
What I realized is that the way in which Leroy and Davodeau celebrate one another's company-- both through the shared reciprocity of learning about each other's professions and their mutual interest in wine--directly calls to mind the relationship between the title character of Graham Greene's Monsignor Quixote (1982) and the Communist ex-mayor of El Toboso he nicknames "Sancho." In Greene's novel, the two travel around Spain in the monsignor's car ("Rocinate") while developing their friendship--often over a bottle of wine.
I've always loved this story, not only because it follows a structure that is similar to Cervantes' Don Quixote (whom the monsignor believes is an ancestor despite characters pointing out that his namesake is fictional), but because of the growth in the compassion and understanding shared between the two central characters. As Davodeau and Leroy journey back and forth to where each of them practices their vocation, we see a similar growth in their understanding of one another, and it makes us realize that the "journey" always has something profound to teach us.
The Graphic Canon is a Godsend for Teachers
Edited by Russ Kick, the three volumes of The Graphic Canon contain a wealth of wonderful curriculum support materials for teachers. Although there may be colleagues of yours who balk at your desire to use visual narrative in the classroom, they'd be hard-pressed to object to the stunning series of graphic poems, stories, and novel excerpts that constitute these three volumes. Your fellow department members only want to teach "The Canon?" That's fine. With The Graphic Canon they can do just that!
I could talk at great length about this series of books, and no doubt in future postings I'll be looking at how to use them in the classroom, but for now your best resource on the series is their WordPress site.
I can tell you that each volume in the series covers a distinct period of time and the literature that goes with it. The first volume's selections range from the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons. Volume 2 takes readers from Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" to the works of the Bronte Sisters and finally to Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray. Finally, the third text goes from Conrad's Heart of Darkness to Hemmingway to Infinite Jest.
From my perspective, the series is of most use to high school educators who either want to...
Of course, there is nothing preventing the teacher from constructing an entire unit around these selections. With younger students, however, you might not have enough selections that are geared towards a junior or middle school audience, so that a series like Graphic Poetry from Rubicon/Scholastic would be a better option. Scott Robins @Scout101 also mentioned in a Tweet the Visions in Poetry series from @KidsCanPress.
Dr. Glen Downey is an award-winning children's author, educator, and academic from Oakville, Ontario. He works as a children's writer for Rubicon Publishing, a reviewer for PW Comics World, an editor for the Sequart Organization, and serves as the Chair of English and Drama at The York School in Toronto.
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