After weeks of preparation (and finally the actual testing for) their STAAR exams, the Travis kiddos and I were able to return to our comics. They were halfway through the lesson – each group had a sketch of what their character(s) looked like and some even had the entire story mapped out. At first, things started off a little hectic; I released the students, all at once, to meet with their partners in the room. Some asked me if they could sit on the floor and, naive as I was, I told them of course! Then the stampede began. Bean bags, pillows, and blankets dotted the floor, some 4th graders decided to sit on the desk, while the rest were lounging about with clipboards and colored pencils. Thankfully, I had help rearranging them for the sake of productivity. Once that was taken care of, the minutes started to fly by. I watched illustrations of aliens meeting talking balls of pizza dough come to life on a white page and a dinosaur with his astronaut girlfriend race to a hospital in go-karts.
I learned from my previous mistake when heading into the next class. No stampedes this time around. There were more solo writers during the second class; about five of the students chose to outline, illustrate, and write their comics without a partner. Some of those pieces turned out to be my favorites. One in particular was a mystery about a little boy that wakes one morning to find his dad has died in an accident, but his dog (who can track anything and anyone by their sense of smell) leads the boy on a treasure hunt of sorts, all revolving around a golden key, to find out the truth about his dad. I won’t reveal the rest here, but I will say the ending is satisfying. Other stories had their own creative flare, some silly and some action-packed – armies of skeletons battling highly intelligent dogs to a hamster pop-star being pushed off the stage during her ‘big finale’. We were able to wrap things up smoothly in both classes, some students even got around to coloring their comics.
The year is coming to a close for both the Travis kids and me. I wish there were time to teach a second, even a third lesson, but there are only four weeks before the kids can throw their backpacks over their heads and welcome summer’s embrace.
Until next time,