How You Can Use Comics to Boost SEL Skills

Recent research has found that using comics to teach content can help students learn more effectively. For example, one study finds that comics have the same effect on reading comprehension as having an additional hour of class time each week.

But you can use comics to teach critical skills such as empathy and interpersonal communication through stories that show how different people handle difficult social situations differently. Here are five ways to use comics to boost your students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) skills.

Introduce New Text Structure Through Comics

Comics are an engaging way for students to learn new information and text structures. Often, it’s easier for children to understand what text structure is and how it works when they see it in action.

Organizing fun writing activities for 4th grade students is an excellent way for learners to see how a text structure works and how it may be helpful or harmful. Learners will also be able to see how each type of text structure is used differently in different situations. More templates for fun activities can be referred to on Adobe Education Exchange. 

Using comics in class will help all learners—not just struggling readers—understand how text structures work and begin using them correctly on their own.

Improve Comprehension by Catching Details

Many students have trouble grasping what they read, which often stems from not following details. To improve their comprehension, teachers should teach students to pay attention to what is happening in a story. Pairing it with a comic book allows them to practice spotting details and provides a visual image of what is happening in each scene, making it easier for all learners.

Build Empathy and Understanding by Paring Comics with Novels

Comics provide visual representations that aid in getting into another person’s shoes. This helps improve social, emotional, and critical thinking skills. You can read them in less time than a typical novel, which is beneficial for reluctant readers. The visuals give them something to focus on as they become familiar with a text.

Comprehension of texts improves through exposure. Comics have various genres and levels, from easy readers for beginners to graphic novels for older children. It allows a child to progress at their own pace and makes reading a fun activity instead of something dreaded during class time.

Illustrate Complex Concepts Through Creativity

Create a comic strip or narrative in Adobe that uses simple characters and dialogue to illustrate complicated ideas or information. Begin by writing down complex concepts on note cards, such as scientific jargon, economic terms, philosophical notions, or terms from law or medicine. 

Then write a descriptive sentence on each card that explains it in common language. Next, ask volunteers from your audience (or friends/family) to draw pictures that reflect what they hear as you read aloud each idea.

Use Humor as a Teaching Tool

Research at Southern Connecticut State University has shown that humorous images make people more likely to recall information, feel less threatened and more positive about an issue, and learn new material more efficiently. This is all thanks to incongruity-resolution humor – which means it’s funny because it resolves a conflict or contains some contradiction.

Sometimes, it’s hard to know where to start with a new skill. Comics are a great way to learn complex concepts that are entertaining and easy to digest.


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