Lakes International Comic Art Festival launches “Comic Potential – Comics in the Classroom” Videos for Teachers

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival has launched a series of “Comics in the Classroom” videos on its YouTube channel as part of its ongoing Comic Potential project. The videos offer teachers some really straightforward tips and techniques on how comics can be used in the classroom across all age ranges – not just for teaching English, but across the curriculum.

As part of the ongoing project, the team are creating four short films, produced and directed by Matt Burke, targeted at teachers that aim to inspire them to use comics in the classroom. 

The films are presented by Little LICAF co-producers Hester Harrington and Sim Leech, who have a wealth of experience using comics in the classroom and come from a teaching background.

The first film, “Comics and Speech”,  presented by Sim, outlines how speech and thought bubbles work in comics, and ways that they can be used in the classroom. It is available to view now live here on YouTube or here on our Comic Potential - Comics in the Classrom Page.

Comic Sequences”, also presented by Sim Leech, explains how the sequential nature of comic panels can be used in the classroom, plus an introductory look at comic features. It is available to view now live here on YouTube here or here on our Comic Potential - Comics in the Classrom Page.

“Making these videos was great fun, and it’s exciting to share these ideas with educators,” says Sim. “I think that once teachers, and pupils, are exposed to more comics in the classroom they will start to see even more potential for applying comic features and ideas across the curriculum. 

“Hopefully these videos will be the start of exploring comics for many more teachers and pupils than we have had the chance to work with. 

“As I’ve said in both of my videos – the best way to introduce comic features, and get used to them, is by reading comics. So go and enjoy reading comics!”

Two further films, presented by Hester Harrington, will be released in early 2024.

Comic Splash Page!” explains how to use comic features to create a single page bursting with action-packed information.

Comic Zines!” provides a guide on how to create hand-made short comics on any topic.

“It’s been a really exciting challenge, trying to distil some handy hints of how to use comics in the classroom for these short video reels,” says Hester. “Honestly, there’s a wealth of comic techniques that lend themselves to supporting education, reviewing knowledge, and assisting transferable skills across the curriculum. It’s been hard to choose which ones to share! 

“It’s always rewarding to go into a classroom, and to share our love of comics with new teachers and pupils firsthand. But, realistically, trying to spread the word further, and to empower more teachers, these videos will hopefully offer the first stepping stone to teachers wishing to explore Comics for the first time, either themselves, or together with their students.”

Comic Potential is a programme from LICAF launched in 2022, that aims to further progress an existing body of work which assesses comics potential in the classroom, and support learning outcomes, working with four schools in the North West of England, supported by Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s Arts-based Learning Fund.

The Paul Hamlyn Foundation provided £102,000 in funding for the 27-month long project, titled “Comic Potential”, which aims to improve reading enjoyment for pupils in the classroom and as a result impact positively on a range of other educational outcomes and personal skills.

The project has included work with staff and pupils at Cambridge Primary School, and Vickerstown Primary School in Barrow, the George Hastwell School, Walney and Sandgate School, Kendal since September 2022, and will culminate in an exhibition at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October 2024.

The project includes in-school workshops, working with teachers and with local libraries across Westmorland and Furness and will create further resources for teachers and pupils, both physical and digital.

These resources will be curated by the team at “Little LICAF”, the festival’s programme for schools and young people, who have co-ordinated much of the organisation’s comics work aimed at younger readers.

Comic Potential” builds on the two-year comics literacy work at Abraham Moss Community School (AMCS ) previously carried out by LICAF. This was a project developed with teachers and school librarians and with researchers at Manchester University’s School of Sociology in partnership with three other comic festivals and organisations  through the Comic Art Europepartnership. The project was supported by David Fickling Comics, publishers of The Phoenix.

Workshops, delivered by professional comic artists and members of the Little LICAF team included themes like self-reflection and self-expression, communication of ideas and sharing of stories and personal experiences with randomised fictional elements.

The Scheme of Learning for the Comics Potential project was devised by Little LICAF co-producers Hester Harrington and Sim Leech. Both Hester and Sim come from teaching backgrounds across a mix of Secondary and Primary school phases and have a rich history of working with youngsters in creative and educational settings. The programme of work reflects their keen understanding of academic environment and diverse curriculum requirements alongside the drive for supporting learning with comics.

“This project has allowed us to continue our passion for getting comics into the classroom. We’ve built on the success of our previous project and workshops, and we’re honing and developing resources, comic content and experiences that can bolster youngsters’ learning in school” says Hester and Sim.

“Thanks to the support of Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we’ve continued to explore the comics literacy work we have already begun, through workshops, professional development sessions with teachers and much more,” says LICAF Director, Julie Tait. “We are building a new understanding of how to utilise comics as an incredibly effective learning tool in the classroom.”

During this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival, held in Bowness-on-Windermere recently, more than 400 young people took part in “Little LICAF” through comic-creating workshops alone over the busy weekend.

• Check out the Comic Potential: Comics in the Classroom page here on the Lakes International Comic Art Festival web site

• Check out the LITTLE LICAF Facebook Page here and the dedicated LITTLE LICAF Instagram here

FESTIVAL DATES: The Lakes International Comic Art Festival returns to Bowness-on-Windermere Friday 27th – Sunday 29th September 2024

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