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Teachers Super Powers – Workshop highlights partnerships with graphic novels

by Elizabeth Larson Richardson, Escuela Campo Alegre (ECA), Venezuela

The Graphic Novel in the Classroom workshop at the AASSA 2019 Educators Conference discussed Scott McClouds concept of the great potential of graphic novels to ‘bridge’ the gap between traditional forms of literature and the ‘screen culture’ of today. From Escuela Campo Alegre (ECA) in Caracas, Venezuela, Elizabeth Richardson, Librarian, and Maria Teresa Plaza, HS Art Teacher, teamed up to discuss the importance of engaging students through graphic novels by broadening the depth and breadth of their analysis and understanding of literary devices. Attendees learned interesting tools to deconstruct the images and text with their students. During the reflection activity, participants analyzed (and created a representation of) each attendees individual teaching super teaching powers (through symbols – see picture).

If we were to extend the idea of this ‘bridge,’ we can not only use it as metaphor for engaging students in learning, but also push educators to see the potential for these ‘bridges’ in all areas of their own school communities. Partnerships are a tremendous area for growth, maximizing resources and dipping into the wealth of faculty expertise. In the specific context at ECA, the current challenges in Venezuela have been difficult, but also have increased the bond within our school community. ECA has harnessed the power of partnerships to continue to provide a high-quality academic and culture-rich education for students, despite lapses in power or access to water. For example, Humanities and Arts have teamed up to provide interdisciplinary learning through Graphic Novels. World Languages have partnered with embassies in Caracas to allow for student visits to enrich classroom lessons and engage with mentors. Even in Elementary, the classroom teachers and Spanish department have aligned their writing genres. This philosophy has rubbed off on our students. In January, when the HS Debate Club wanted to refine their skills before an international debate tournament, they partnered with local schools, and hosted the first English-language debate competition in Caracas – an entirely student-led initiative!

We were able to share these stories, as well as hear about successful partnerships from other schools in the AASSA network. These workshops and networking connections provide opportunities for expanding the partnership model throughout the AASSA community, capitalizing on best teaching practice to prepare 21st century, global citizens. Thank you to the organizers of the 2019 AASSA Educators Conference who provided this platform for everyone to flex their individual and collective teaching Super Powers.

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