Teaching With Zombies and Caped Crusaders: Using Comics To Teach Argumentation and Critical Thinking Across the Curriculum

Presentation for 2015 Kentucky Council of Teachers of English Conference


The Common Core State Standards Initiative notes that writing is an important part of building a foundation for college and career readiness. Anchor standards include crafting arguments and drawing evidence to support those arguments across the curriculum; exploring complex ideas through writing; and conducting sustained research projects. The Common Core further stresses the need for authentic writing tasks to develop these skills and build a foundation for college and career readiness.

This session will explain how student-developed Comic Projects can address each of these Common Core Anchor Standards as well as support Writing, Arts and Humanities, Practical Living and Career Studies Program Reviews which are responsible for determining a large percentage of each Kentucky school’s accountability score. The presenter will provide teachers with practical assignments, strategies, and tools for classrooms from middle school through college.

This interactive session will help individual teachers craft a comic project for their unique classroom context using project-based (or passion-based) learning to increase student engagement and integrate differentiation. While on the surface comics are engaging and entertaining, many comics also explore rich layers of complex cultural, historical, philosophical, and psychological ideas. Using comics as a springboard to engage in discussion, reading, research, and writing about these complex ideas provides students with a framework to delve more deeply into a range of texts from classical literature to nonfiction as well as explore topics in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences.

Throughout the session we will explore how comic projects can address a number of learning goals and offer a variety of authentic writing experiences. We will discuss ideas for adapting this approach to different content areas and course topics. Teachers will leave this session with specific strategies for using comics to support argument writing and critical thinking in both one-time assignments and sustained research projects.


This session will demonstrate how student-driven Comic Projects can address the Common Core Anchor Standards as well as Program Reviews by supporting argumentation, critical thinking, and college and career readiness. Teachers will leave this session with specific strategies for adapting this approach to their unique classroom context.

Teaching.With.Zombies powerpoint slides and notes

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