Monday, November 17, 2008

the arrival

I started teaching The Arrival today, and true to the nature of a wordless novel, I lack the works to fully describe how satisfying it is to offer students such a work of art and beauty and meaning. Please visit artist and author Shaun Tan's web site.

How to teach a wordless graphic novel...  I did NOT use the animated movie "An American Tail" as I had originally planned, a decision made after previewing the movie.  (Note: once upon a time, a wise teacher told me to ALWAYS preview video before using in class.  I learned the hard way, of course.)  (The movie story was just not on point.)  Instead, I gave them a "slog" (journal) writing topic, "Moving Away", as an anticipation guide.  That prompted some good discussions on reasons for moving, feelings associated with moving, challenges, etc.  This topic is the closest most of my students have experienced with moving.  (Amazingly, 2 of my students are immigrants from Bosnia!  And a handful of students have lived in the same home their entire lives.)

Chapter 1 is short and fairly straightforward in narrative, so my 8th graders read the chapter silently, and the 6th and 7th graders read it with partners.  Then, we discussed plot, potential (created) dialogue, setting, and mood.  Since 6th and 8th grade classes are small, I led a whole group discussion in those classes.  In the 7th grade classes, I gave each pair of students an index card with a unique literary element (plot, setting, etc.) and instructed them to identify the element in chapter 1 after reading, then the pairs presented their "elements".

Well, I hope that sort of made sense!  The art of storytelling through pictures and no written words is ... masterful!  Some pages contain a collage of drawings; some collages are pieces of a snapshot, while other collages depict sequence of action.  Other pages are panoramic views.  I can't explain it any more - you have to find a copy somewhere and READ IT!!!

7 comments:

Orchid in the Bronx said...

Shaun Tan's work looks lovely! Hey, I'm back--I guess. Hoping to reconnect in the blogosphere. The fall was a little rocky. Am teaching a little now (adults, fiction), so will check in and steal all your great teaching tips!

jenamoured said...

I'm so jealous that you have access to new and current and relevant literature. Also, can I be in your class?

roller coaster teacher said...

Anytime, orchid ;)

JEN!!! You KNOW I drove all around the county to different public libraries and borrowed other people's library cards (from husband and daughter) to check out enough copies (6) of The Arrival to use in class (students share). The public library does lend out class sets of this novel but I couldn't reserve a set for my time frame. I lucked out with Diary of Wimpy Kid - the special ed. reading teacher had ordered class sets for her classes, and I borrowed from her.

I channel Tim Gunn when I'm planning units and lessons - work it, make it happen!

jenamoured said...

okay fine. i am so jealous of your patience and tolerance to find all those copies of things that you need. and also your ability to plan ahead. ;p

roller coaster teacher said...

Not grading papers is pure freedom, Jen. Grading used to just BURY me.

jenamoured said...

with one of my classes, we've gone to pretty much all project-based work. they present with their projects and so i can still monitor their understanding, and i don't have endless grading to do.

i just wish that all of my classes were able to work that way. i don't think they are...

aimee said...

I'm just about to begin teaching the Arrival. Would you be willing to share some of your approach?