I realized the other day that I had not updated my teaching blog in some time, and that those few of you who follow me might be curious about the outcome of my Zombie Unit.
After three weeks of team building, Informational Text and other sundries, we ended with a brief look at Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. Like many of my students, I love the television show, enough that even though we don’t have cable, we stream the episodes through Amazon Prime and Netflix. What many of them don’t realize, however, is that the original comic series is excellent, too. Just like my husband and I binge watched Season 4 when it came out on Netflix, I binged on the Compendium One and Compendium Two, which together have the first 96 volumes of the comic. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share just how awesome the comic really is.
Since one of the Common Core State Standards, CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.7, asks students to study a work in more than one medium, I have students watch a short summary of Days Gone Bye, the first episode of the show, and compare it to the first ten pages of the comic, which has the same name.
After taking notes on how to read a graphic novel, we jumped in to comparing the two. We talk about why in the comic the iconic “Don’t Open, Dead Inside” is missing, why Shane is less important, and why Rick is much more taciturn. And then, when I explain that in the comic Shane dies very early in the comic, they understand the motivation of the television writers who decided to humanize Shane, to make you want him to stay around longer.
One of the requirements I have in class is that students read a book of their choice at least ten minutes of class period everyday. I knew my comic intro had been successful, because I have at least one student who promptly went out, bought the first comic in the series, and has been reading The Walking Dead ever since. One of the best parts of being an English teacher is that I can turn kids on to great books. The next great book we read? Persepolis, a graphic novel about a girl growing up during the Iranian Revolution.
Psst. Hey, you, want to read a great book?