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Lesson Plan

Gabbing About Garfield: Conversing About Texts With Comic Creator

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Grades 3 – 5
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Two 60-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.

Deborah Kozdras, Ph.D.

Tampa, Florida


International Literacy Association


Student Objectives

Session 1

Session 2


Student Assessment/Reflections



Students will

  • Identify and discuss the structural elements and text conventions of comics

  • Read and critique comics

  • Write original texts that incorporate the conventions of comics, using the ReadWriteThink.org Comic Creator

  • Express and share responses to text through oral and written conversations

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Session 1

1. Demonstrate the Reading Ring story sequencing game on the Professor Garfield website and have students work with a partner to play the game. During this activity, students arrange three comic panels in sequence and answer comprehension questions about the resulting strip.

2. After students have spent about a half hour playing Reading Ring, distribute copies of the Elements of Comics checklist, along with the sample comics you have copied (see Preparation, Step 7).

3. Review the Elements of Comics as described on the checklist. Using an ELMO or LCD projector to project representative comics, point out how each strip makes use of particular elements. As you discuss each element, have students work with their partners to find examples in their sample comics. Choose a few of their examples to highlight with the projector. Make sure students understand how these various elements function and explain that they will be using these elements to create their own comics during Session 2.

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Session 2

1. Make sure students have their Elements of Comics checklist from Session 1. Have them access Garfield Comics and Cartoons for example strips and work with their partners to critique the Garfield comics. Students should conduct these dialogs in writing and should focus their discussion on how the strips use various elements of the comic genre.

2. Distribute copies of the Written Conversation Planning sheet. Have students use the planning sheet to map out a comic strip based on their dialog about the Garfield strips. Point out that the planning sheet follows a similar format to the Elements of Comics checklist, so students are reminded to use as many elements of the genre as possible in their original strip.

3. Using the LCD projector, review the use of the Comic Creator tool and model the Comic Creator activity.
  • Show students how they can have two characters discussing Garfield comics.

  • Model how to insert speech bubbles and thought bubbles.

  • Demonstrate how captions can be used to define time, setting, or mood.

  • Demonstrate how to add and position props and show how objects can enhance or illustrate the dialog.

  • Show how sound words (onomatopoeia) can be used to further add to the meaning in the story.

  • Remind students of the directionality of comics: Panels speech bubbles are read from left to right and from top to bottom.

  • Demonstrate how to print the completed comic.
4. Remind students to refer to their Written Conversation Planning Sheets as they create original comic strips using the Comic Creator. Each partner should choose a character from Comic Creator’s menu of “people” to speak his or her lines of the written dialog. Each strip should include as many of the elements on the planning sheet as appropriate.

5. Remind students to print copies of their comics before exiting the program. Their work cannot be saved online.

6. Bind copies of all the students’ comics into a class booklet titled Gabbing About Garfield.

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  • Have students use Garfield’s Comic Creator tool to create new Garfield comics.

  • Have students use the ReadWriteThink.org Comic Creator tool to create written conversations about other comics, storybooks, and graphic novels.

  • Have students apply strategies from this lesson as they read and respond to graphic novels, which have many elements in common with comics and are very popular with young readers. See Graphic Novels for (Really) Young Readers

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  • Following Session 1, collect students’ completed Elements of Comics checklists to monitor their understanding of these features. Note: You will need to return the checklists to the students for use in Session 2.

  • Use the Elements of Comics Evaluation sheet to evaluate students’ original comics. (With younger children, you may want to focus on fewer elements.) Use these evaluation forms to inform instruction, and monitor students’ use of these elements as they continue to use the Comic Creator for other activities.


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