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Lesson Plan

The Comic Book Show and Tell

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The Comic Book Show and Tell

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

James Bucky Carter

James Bucky Carter

El Paso, Texas


National Council of Teachers of English


Student Objectives

Session One

Session Two


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • draft a comic book script based on a general prompt (e.g., A super hero saves the day!).

  • explore basic information about comics and comic book writing.

  • create the page layout and images of a peer's comic book script, based on the detail and description in the script.

  • edit the first drafts of their scripts upon seeing how well the artists were able to match their visuals with the visions the writers had in their head as they initially composed the script.

  • share their revised scripts with classmates and discuss how the drafts differed.

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Session One

  1. Review ways that writers make their works interesting, descriptive, and detailed, via a running list of strategies/words on the board or overhead. Students may offer such strategies as adjectives, adverbs, time phrases, giving locations, discussing setting, mentioning the weather, characters' clothing, and characters' emotions.

  2. Discuss the comic book that students read for homework. Ask students to make connections to the brainstormed list of ways that authors make works interesting.

  3. Using the Comic Book Primer, help students identify the various people involved in comic book production and the parts of a comic book.

  4. After that discussion, explain that students will get the chance to become comic book writers.

  5. Use the Comic Vocabulary interactive to provide examples and additional information on the parts of comic books, or allow students to explore the interactive independently. If computers are not available, use the Comic Vocabulary Definitions sheets on Text, Layout & Design, and Angles.

  6. Identify additional examples of various types of page layout and comic book techniques, using the comic read for homework and other comics.

  7. Note that some pages are splash pages (one large panel taking up the whole screen) while other pages might have a series of smaller, rectangular closed panels (all the action is in the 4 borders), and others might have open panels (panels with less than 4 borders or maybe none at all), overlapping panels, or even panels in which the action seems to spill out of the borders.

  8. Pass out the Comic Book Scripting Techniques and Sample Script.

  9. Explore the parts of a script with the class by pointing to the examples on the Script that demonstrate the Scripting Techniques.

  10. Identify the requirements for students' scripts, using the handouts to point to necessary elements.

  11. Discuss the difference between comic strips and comic books.

    • Comics strips are usually self-contained "gags" or jokes and most-often run in series of three rectangular panels.

    • Comic books run 20 pages or more in length, may be self-contained or part of an ongoing storyline, and vary in their panel layout from page to page based on the action of the story. For instance, a scene at the dinner table may be composed of nice, rectangular panels whereas a battle scene may use dynamic, off-centered panels to denote action and movement.
  12. Explain scripting techniques to students, including page layout and panel design. Refer to the Scripting Handout for useful teaching and background information.

  13. Ask students to write their own comic book scripts using a general prompt, such as one of the following:

    • A superhero wakes up to bad news coming from the alarm clock and must save the day!

    • A teenager discovers s/he has a super power at an embarrassing time.

    • Someone gets bitten by a glowing animal/struck by an odd beam/exposed to radiation/discovers a strange object. Later the person develops strange powers.

    • A team of super heroes is meeting to discuss how to stop the latest menace.
  14. Set a "deadline" (20 minutes) so students get the feeling of working under pressure, just as real comic writers do.

  15. After the deadline has passed, collect the scripts to be used in the following session.

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Session Two

  1. Explain that the scripts from the previous session will be redistributed, and writers will now become artists: drawing the script as close to form as possible based on the information the writer provided.

  2. Suggest that this will be a silent time in the classroom, because many times artists and writers might be miles apart from one another and communication can be tough. This aspect will help to give a more realistic feeling to this activity.

  3. After a drawing time of about 20 minutes, ask students to pass their drawings and the scripts back to the original writer.

  4. Invite writers to evaluate how clear, descriptive and detailed their scripts were based on how well the artists' visions matched the writers' initial vision.

  5. For homework, ask students to revise their scripts for clarity, detail, and description, to help a future artist better represent their visions. If desired, ask students to expand their scripts to five comic book pages in their revised drafts. The Comic Strip Planning Sheet can be used as a tool to help students revise.

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  • Use the Comic Creator to discuss the parts of comic books that are outlined on the Comic Book Primer and/or the Comic Vocabulary interactive.

  • Ask the class to use their new knowledge to create a rubric or set of guidelines for creating a comic book script (in this manner, the now experienced writers and artists get to do the jobs of editors and editors-in-chief!). Allow students the chance to revise their scripts in light of the class-created rubric before assessing the work.

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  • For formal assessment, allow adequate time for students to revise their drafts. Ideally, ask students to extend their drafts to at least five comic book pages in revision so that they have ample opportunity to demonstrate an understanding of clear, descriptive language. Grade finished drafts on their extension from the first draft and completion. Focus in particular on the draft's use of clear, accurate, descriptive, and detailed writing that shows (illustrates) and tells (directs).

  • For more open-ended and reflective assessment, ask students to journal on the differences between their two scripts or on the process they used to make their revised script more detailed. If desired, do a think-pair-share, and ask students to discuss what they learned about revision and the writing process.

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