Do Comics Have a Place in Your Classroom?

One feature of the AIMS Essential Math Units, a series that is targeted for middle school, is the inclusion of comics as a way to show students engaged with some of the activities in a unit.

Pi-Pieces-Strip

Our hope for the comics was that they would help to make explicit the content knowledge that is the focus of an activity. Students can use the comics to review learning or clarify the experiences they had as they were engaged with the activity. The comics also provide reading within the content area.

The context for each comic is a classroom of students taught by either Ms. Cho or Mr. David. Typically the comic “looks in” on the class as they engage in conversation about what they learned from an activity that they have just completed.

Here is an example of a comic from Circumference and Area of Circles, one of the AIMS Essential Math Units. There is a similar comic for each of the activities in the unit.

PiPiecesAreaCircleComicPgs_Page_1 PiPiecesAreaCircleComicPgs_Page_2 PiPiecesAreaCircleComicPgs_Page_3

The students reading this comic would likely have done the activity, “Pi Pieces and Parallelograms,” the day before. The comic depicts them processing what they experienced by engaging in the activity.

I had high hopes for the comics; however, the feedback has not been nearly what I had hoped for and I’m wondering why. I get good reviews from in-service teachers when I assign them to be read in a graduate geometry course. But I don’t get the impression that many of the teachers who buy and use the books in this series are actually making much use of the comics.

Tell me your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

3 Responses to Do Comics Have a Place in Your Classroom?

  1. I think the comics are fantastic, but I may be biased. Working on them with you has been one of my very favorite experiences during my time at AIMS. I like to think that they’re getting used a lot by those who have purchased them, there’s just not really a way for us to hear about it.

    Rebecca, thanks for your comment. That’s exactly what we envisioned for them. So glad you have found them so useful.

    This has inspired me to write a blog of my own about the comics. Thanks, Richard!

  2. Hi Richard–
    I currently teach sixth grade math at a middle school, and my students enjoy the comics in the AIMS Essential Math Units that we use. They love to be assigned a character when we read a comic aloud in class. The comics are a great pre-teach for some activities and another way to re-teach following others. The guiding questions at the top of each comic are helpful, too– the other sixth grade math teacher and I both use them for class discussions and reflections. Thank you for producing such helpful resources!