Action Research Project on Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom: Prequiz and Practice (Part 3)

Graphic Novel Action Research: Pre-Quiz
I spent weeks creating, editing, and revising the pre- and post-quiz. I had to double-check every question I came up with to ensure that the students could find the answer in the graphic novel and original text versions of the Poe short stories “William Wilson” and “The Cask of Amontillado.” It was a frustrating task at times, but I came up with 15 true/false questions and 20 multiple choice questions in all. With the quiz ready, it was time to get started!

The students arrived in class and I asked them to clear their desks for a quick quiz. There was some concern about taking a quiz before reading the material and we discussed that this is a pre-quiz, meaning we haven’t learned the information yet. This seemed to calm them down some. They worked diligently to complete the pre-quiz, taking about 10-15 minutes to read through and answer each question.

Understanding the Terms and Layout of a Graphic Novel
Then, we looked at presentation about how to read graphic novels. We discussed the vocabulary associated with graphic novels (such as panels, gutters, and captions) as well as the differences between thought and speech bubbles. For the most part, the students were already familiar with the basics to reading a graphic novel, though there were some in the class who had never picked one up before and definitely benefitted from the mini-lesson.

Practice Read with a Graphic Novel
We then practiced reading a short story called “The Black Cat” from Graphic Classics: Edgar Allan Poe, a graphic novel. The students were hooked from the start. They were enthralled with the story and frequently expressed their shock at the drawings and storyline. They were visibly appalled when the protagonist attacked and later killed his cat. Their reactions to the story made it clear that they understood what was going on. If you’re not familiar with this story, it’s well worth a read!

I then had the students verbally respond to the same student guide questions they will use during the Graphic Novel Action Research project. The guide has students think and write about narrative basics from the characters to summarizing the plot to tone and mood. This guide is designed to help students demonstrate their understanding, or struggles, with the Poe short stories. I can’t wait to start reading “The Cask of Amontillado” in our groups tomorrow!