I teach seventh and eighth grade math and science at a charter school for at-risk youth where accommodate the needs of a wide variety of learners. Throughout my career as an educator, I have learned a great deal about restructuring the curriculum and modifying it in ways that help my at-risk students meet the grade level standards. I have incorporated everything from center-based and inquiry-based learning to performing educational songs and raps in front of the class.
One issue I am constantly facing with my students is their aversion to reading. They avoid textbooks, pleasure reading books, informational websites, and magazines. My students are notorious for skipping any test question that looks like a paragraph. Ten months ago, in response to this need for literacy in science, I began drawing one-page comics that would highlight key points of certain topics. The Cool School Rap is an educational comic series that breaks down the science curriculum for middle school students in an attractive and easy to read format. Aligning with the Common Core Standards, the characters guide students’ reading through word bubbles, diagrams, captions and illustrations. This curriculum places a strong and consistent emphasis on inquiry and includes an inquiry activity at the end of each topic. Each comic posted on this site is accompanied with the content standard it fulfills.
The Cool School Rap has my students excited to read. They peer over my shoulder while I sketch and gather around when I bring in the finished copies. The Cool School Rap is a medium I can use to educate such a wider population, and I am fully capable of drawing comics for each topic and in each grade level. My plan is to continue drawing comics that align with the new Common Core curriculum and to continue posting them on this site, making them available to students far beyond my classroom. New comics will be added every week! I know this is what I am meant to do, and I am just getting started.
Thank you and keep learning!!!
Laura L. Balliett