by Glen Downey, Comics in Education, www.comicsineducation.com
Use Provocative Media to Jumpstart Visual Brainstorming
Depending on what kind of visual brainstorming or visual note-taking you'd like your students to engage in, it's good to give them a provocative piece of media to get their ideas going. As I've mentioned previously, when I introduce students to this form of note-taking, I like to show them the RSAnimations video of Sir Ken Robinson's famous TED Talk on Changing Educational Paradigms. Here, in advance of looking at how media uses language and image to construct a concept for its brand that people find attractive, I showed my students "This is a Generic Brand Video," a wonderfully subversive meta-commercial about how a lot of contemporary commercials work. After watching this video with my IB Language and Literature class, we engaged in a little visual brainstorming of a Suncor commercial that actually fit the bill of the one described by the above video.
Here's what my students, Kyle and Muhammed, put together after watching the video, discussing their take on it, and engaging in some visual brainstorming:
As an educator, some of the big takeaways from this are so important. Obviously Kyle and Muhammed had fruitful discussions even though they imparted to their visual note-taking and brainstorming their own unique signatures. Both addressed the disconnects between what the advertisement shows and what Suncor Energy is all about, but whereas Kyle preferred to compartmentalize things by keeping his image-and-text combinations at some distance to one another, Muhammed preferred a slightly more organic approach. He also took more liberties with the cartoonishness he imparted to his figures. Nonetheless, Muhammed seems to draw inspiration from Kyle's Suncor image while Kyle imparts Muhammed's cartoonish strokes to the sun figure.
So, by way of advice, let students talk to one another about what you'd like them to focus their visual note-taking and brainstorming on. It can help them learn from one another and then immediately demonstrate this learning in their work.
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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