Creative teaching propelled Periodic Table and social justice studies into a collaborative graphic and writing project for ICCS’s 5th- and 6th-grade students culminating with a published comic book. 

Fifth-grade teacher Dino Grisanti and 6th-grade teacher John Juniker joined forces to jump start the process. “He introduced the students to the Periodic Table and had them create heroes and villains from their elements,” Grisanti said. “After they worked with that about a week, drawing and coming up with abilities per their element, I began working with the students to combine their characters into a comic strip based on the idea of our safe community.” 

Grisanti, along with comic strip artisit Dean Zachary, of Spiderman and Batman fame, worked with students who drew 15-20 panel comics and created a 32-page comic book that was impressive enough to be picked up for publication, printing, and distribution by local comic book company Bad Dog Comics. 

Zachary, along with Shannon Merrit from Bad Dog Comics, visited the classroom to talk to students about the entire creation process including branding, financing, and printing. Grisanti, who said he enjoyed the project as much as his students, hopes the experience will ignite creative and career paths. “It could lead into aspects of the business world for illustration, graphic design, production, management, and distribution,” he said. 

Adding to students’ inspiration, 901 Comics and Comics 4 Kids donated more than 300 age-appropriate comics to Grisanti’s classrom. “This not only benefits our project,” Grisanti explained. “It also aids in the struggles that a lot of young readers face. A 20-30 page comic with illustrations is more manageable and enjoyable for kids to tackle than a 300-page book. Beginning the reading process with short reads can lead them to reading more.”

Photo:  Comic Book illustrator Dean Zachary (L) and Shannon Merrit, owner of Bad Dog Comics, talk to ICCS 5th and 6th grade students about the creative and business processes involved with comic strip publication.
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