Writing Graphic Novels Institutes Grades 4-8

Monday, April 29 - Wednesday, May 1, 2019
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Grade: 4-8
Featuring: Kevin McCloskey, Eric Hand, Hareem Atif Khan, Brooke Geller, and Tim Steffen

Do your students devour graphic novels so quickly you can’t keep them on your bookshelf? Do they doodle in the margins of their notebooks? Do they rush out to see the latest superhero movie? Chances are, your class is filled with kids who love to read graphic novels and create comics. This brand-new institute seeks to harness your students’ natural enthusiasm and engagement and bring it into writing workshop through a graphic novel writing unit.

We expect that some of you will be avid graphic novel readers, and that others will never have picked up a graphic novel. Regardless, you’ll get immersed in the medium of graphic novels and comics in a way that teaches you the “grammar of graphic novels,” helps you learn how to navigate a page and do important thinking work within and between panels, and channels you to think more deeply about the craft moves that comics draw on. Expect to start seeing more complexity in graphic novels than you ever thought possible.

We’re thrilled to welcome award winning author and artist Kevin McCloskey to this institute. Kevin is the author of The Real Poop on Pigeons and We Dig Worms. He’ll join us at the institute to share his latest thinking about using graphic novels to teach information and how we can bring that to life in our kids writing.

The TCRWP has been developed a new writing unit for writing graphic novels and during this institute we’ll introduce you to that unit and to the major work of helping kids to write comics. You’ll see demonstrations of lean, potent minilessons, get ideas for super engaging mentor texts and ways to use these with kids, and even get to hear some tips writers of graphic novels have for kids as you listen to our featured speaker and watch video snippets of writers talking about their process.

We think that the best way to learn how to teach kids to write graphic novels is to write one yourself. Equipped with your knowledge of the craft moves graphic novels draw on, presenters will coach you as you move through the writing process to create your own graphic novel. You’ll learn how the writing process plays out when writing graphic novels—how comics doodle to generate ideas, how they plan out thumbnail sketches of their pages, how they revise in high-leverage ways. You’ll learn how to embrace drawing in front of your kids, even if you don’t consider yourself an artist, in ways that encourage all your students to take risks. Along the way, you’ll create a powerful piece of demonstration writing that you can share with your students.

There will be time to study samples of students’ comics across the writing process, so that you can hone your skills at identifying what writers are doing well and what next steps they are ready to learn and begin to get in mind a kind of progression of writing graphic novels that can help you enormously when you confer and do small group work. Presenters will help you consider just what conferring and small-group work could look like during a unit on writing graphic novels—what are some of the “in your back pocket” small groups you’ll want to have ready? There will be time set aside so you can start creating your own comic book toolkit. You’ll leave this institute ready to help your kids dive into writing graphic novels and to raise the level of their appreciation of this beautiful and very important medium.


$650/$600 NYC DOE


This institute will take place at the Teachers College campus.
Teachers College, Columbia University
525 W 120th Street
New York, NY