This semester, we are reading Bill Ayers’ (2019) book, about becoming a teacher. Ayers is a beloved elementary teacher, professor of education and education activist with many keen insights. Written in the first person to preservice teachers and education professionals, Ayers’ book weaves together his self-reflections on being a classroom teacher with his critical commentary on political, economic, and socio-cultural challenges facing the field of education.
Self-reflection is an attribute of professional practice. Indeed, we do not learn and develop from experience as much as we learn from reflecting on that experience. In this context, self-reflection is the process of constructing meaning by thinking about and interpreting the significance of lived experiences.
Inspired by an earlier book, To Teach (2010), written by Bill Ayers together with Ryan Alexander-Tanner, this semester ED503 will engage in a digital comic strip project. On three (3) occasions across the semester, you’ll produce a digital comic strip featuring your avatar and a first person narrative in response to the assigned reading for the week from Ayer’s book, about Becoming a Teacher.
The objective of this project is for you to weave self-reflections on your lived experiences in the field of education (as a student and/or education professional) with your critical commentary on political, economic, and socio-cultural challenges facing the field of education.
Journal writing or in this case, producing a digital comic strip is critical to the development of self-reflective practice. Your digital comic strip is a context for writing about and illustrating your lived experiences and for transforming your beliefs and assumptions about teaching, learning and education into understanding and professional knowledge. The digital comic strip project affords an opportunity and a means for you to describe, analyze and question your lived experiences, beliefs, and ideas both as a student growing up and now as an education professional.
THE PROJECT HAS THREE PHASES
- prior to class | read assigned chapter and produce a comic strip;
- during class | share and discuss your comic strip;
- after class | write a brief essay
PRIOR TO CLASS
Before class, use the digital comic strip tool Pixton to produce a four (4) to six (6) panel digital comic strip. Produced in the first person, tell a story about your lived experience informed by your thoughtful reading of the assigned chapter from about Becoming a Teacher. As represented by your digital avatar, the comic strip features you! (But you can be in dialogue with anyone, in any place or time. Maybe this week it’s your third grade teacher and next week maybe it’s Margaret Haley).
A first step for this project is to familiarize yourself with the digital comic strip application, Pixton. This semester, we have a classroom subscription to Pixton. It’s a powerful and relatively user-friendly app for creating simple or complex comics using characters, scenes, and things (all provided). Everything is highly editable and characters can be moved into almost any pose. ED503 Pixton Classroom Join code : https://join.pixton.com/grarz
We’ll take some time during class to create avatars, digital images of ourselves. This will help us produce comics in the first person. We’ll also explore other aspects of the app. (Soon the following avatar tip will be helpful –> “Once created, to include your own avatar in your comic you can do so by clicking into the Characters tab, and click Add Character, then if you look at the bar above the characters and click where it says ‘my class’ you should see all of the avatars in your class there and you’ll just need to find yourself and click”).
On three (3) occasions across the semester, your LC will have about thirty minutes (~30 minutes) to share and discuss the comic strips that you have produced in response to Ayer’s book. (The schedule for these discussions can be found under the Calendar tab of the ED503 course website).
During the designated class period, each LC member will have approximately 10 minutes to:
- Share and discuss their individual comic strip, and
- Explain the relationship of the assigned chapter from about Becoming a Teacher to their comic strip, and
- Generate discussion. (Encourage classmates to connect to the reading by sharing relevant stories about their lived experiences in the field of education).
Following class discussion of your comic strip, each LC member writes a brief essay (~250 words or about one page). In your essay:
- Explain your comic strip and how it connects with your reading of the assigned chapter from about Becoming a Teacher.
- Include in your discussion the relevance of elements in your comic strip such as setting, characters, and props.
- Demonstrate further understanding of the assigned chapter by discussing:
- Further, the ideas from Ayer’s chapter that connect with your comic strip
- How Ayers uses evidence, such as personal narrative, references, and numerical data,
- Ayers’ political, cultural and/or ideological perspective.
By Friday at midnight, after sharing and discussing your comic strip in class on Wednesday, post your comic strip along with your accompanying essay to your ED503 weblog.
Using Props and Animals in Pixton
This article shows how you can access and use the handheld props: https://help.pixton.com/adding-handheld-props and this one shows how you can use animals in your comics: https://help.pixton.com/animals-in-comics