Guest Post: Marta Cabral, Teachers College, New York: Being in Wonder

This week I’m joined by an exceptional arts educator, Marta Cabral of Teachers College at New York’s Columbia University. Marta supports young children in creating art which is then exhibited in a gallery space, allowing her students to experience the roles of artist, curator, and exhibition guide. Her passion for student-directed learning and supporting the artistic expression of even the very youngest children is exceptional.

Here’s Marta on “Being in Wonder (Wonderings and Wanderings of an Early Childhood Studio Teacher)”:

Marta Cabral at MoMa NYC
Marta Cabral at MoMa NYC

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Comics in the classroom: the artists’ perspective

As a writer with the shaky draftsmanship of a toddler on Red Bull, I tend to avoid discussing the visual aspect of comic book literature – this despite holding a Ph.D. which looked at the lives of many 20th century art historians!

I really struggled with art in high school. The only recognition a teacher ever showed for my artistic talents was at the age of 13, when I decorated the interior and exterior covers of my maths book with an epic stick-figure comic depicting the escapades of Jimmy Joe the Spew Surfer as he battled his way to a Ramones gig.

At the bottom of that week’s homework, Mr. O’Grady wrote: ‘7/10, some corrections to be made. Please kindly cover over the adventures of Jimmy Joe et al, or purchase a new exercise book.’ He then made me collect litter from the campus after school.

Jessica Abel, self-portrait
Self-portrait from 2007’s Life Sucks, by Jessica Abel

In this blog post, I want to redress the balance and hear artist-educators’ thoughts on using comics in the classroom. From the USA, we’re joined by acclaimed graphic novelist Jessica Abel, co-creator of the Drawing Words, Writing Pictures comics textbook. In London, Kel Winser works with children and young people creating Egyptian-themed superhero comics at the Petrie Museum of Egyptian archaeology, while Australian writer and illustrator Steve Axelsen runs workshops for young people in Western Sydney via the Westwords programme.

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Comics in the classroom: Dr. Yen Yen Woo and the Dim Sum Warriors

Dr. Yen Yen Woo is a filmmaker, comics creator and associate professor of education at Long Island University. She’s one half of the creative team behind Dim Sum Warriors, a comic-book iPad app which features pork buns, dumplings and other dim sum dishes battling for the throne of a fabled kingdom. The narrative is designed as a bilingual learning tool including English and Mandarin Chinese elements.

Yen Yen joins us today for her top tips on using comics in the classroom.

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Comics in the classroom guest post: Nick Sousanis of Teachers College, New York

American artist and educator Nick Sousanis is one of the experts interviewed in this month’s education article on Comics in the Classroom. Nick made his name on the Detroit art scene before beginning a Ph.D. at Teachers College in New York.

Unusually, Nick’s own doctoral thesis takes the form of a comic book – putting into practice his belief that the medium can be a powerful tool for intellectual inquiry and the communication of complex arguments.

Possibilities comic by Nick Sousanis
A page from Nick Sousanis’ ‘Possibilities’, a philosophical and historical examination of games

Nick is currently speaking at the Rocky Mountain Conference on Comics and Graphic Novels. In today’s guest post, Nick shares his thoughts on making the most of comics in education.

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Cody Pickrodt – Comics in the classroom

This is one in a series of posts supporting my article in the curriculum supplement to New Zealand Education Gazette, out on June 18th. Find more resources, interviews and features on comics in education via my site’s comicsedu tag.

Cody Pickrodt is an American indie comics creator and educator who runs comic book workshops for Brooklyn kids through the non-profit organisation Uproar Art.

Poster for Chicago Alternative Comics Expo
Cody Pickrodt will be attending CAKE – Chicago’s Alternative Comics Expo – this weekend.
Image by Laura Park.

Cody joined me for an interview on my site back in February 2011, and features in my upcoming piece for the Gazette.

Today, Cody shares some of his top tips for getting students to create their own cartoons, comics and graphic narratives.

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The joy of copywriting: taking on government garble

I recently took a contract putting stilted government language into plain speech.  I’m rewriting hundreds of web pages covering all kinds of public service – from pest control to parking and schools to recycling.

Public sector copywriting might not sound glamorous, but it’s fun to attack a mountain of jargon and break it down into something clear, friendly, and informative for a wider readership.

I meet a lot of students who want to make a living as a writer. Although there’s a few working on screenplays, many teens imagine themselves growing up to be novelists – solitary, self-reliant figures hunched over a desk, creating a masterpiece which will earn them Rowling megabucks.

Yet the joys of many writing jobs are not solitary but social. Journalism and copywriting both involve getting out, talking with people, communicating and learning.

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April update: Science tattoos, teen bloggers, copywriting, and comics

It’s been a little quiet on the blog lately as I ploughed through a swathe of writing assignments and tried (only partly successfully) to stay clear of the Internet.

I have a couple of articles out later this year for the Australian science magazines ScienceWise and Australasian Science, profiling scientists who featured in Carl Zimmer’s book Science Ink. Carl uncovered the weird and wonderful world of researchers who have their work tattooed on their bodies after he spotted a DNA helix inked on the arm of a respected neurobiologist at a pool party in the States. This led to a great book collecting photos of striking, beautiful and downright bizarre science tattoos from around the world.

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Matt joins Advisory Board of Behind the Book

Dr Matt Finch with Behind the Book's Comic Workshop in Brooklyn, NYC
Dr Matt Finch with Behind the Book's Comic Workshop in Brooklyn, NYC

I’m pleased to announce that I’ve been appointed to the Advisory Board of Behind the Book, the non-profit organisation which gives students in NYC public schools the chance to learn from published authors and illustrators.

Further to my work designing K-12 curriculum for Behind the Book in 2011, I’ll be supporting them as they build sustained creative partnerships between authors, students and educators across New York City.

You can find out more about Behind the Book here: http://www.behindthebook.org/about_who.html

Coming soon on this site – guest blogging from the high school library that’s a hipster oasis in rural Australia, and a new piece bringing together superheroes, elementary school and gender studies.

Diane Wolkstein – Storytelling across cultures from Australia to NYC

Is the universe made of stories? Human beings can’t keep from telling tales, or listening to them – whether it’s creation myths or the “grand narratives” of science and politics, flights of fantasy or just an answer to the question, “So what did you do today?”

For more than four decades, one woman has sustained the tradition of oral storytelling in the heart of Manhattan. In 1968, Diane Wolkstein began an official role with New York’s Department of Parks and Recreation which has brought stories from around the world to life through her passion and craft.

Diane Wolkstein

Diane caught up with me recently to discuss her career, the challenges of drawing on stories from other cultures, and the business of telling tales in the modern metropolis.

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