slcgram1slcgram2slcgram3Teachers making comics.  For three days.  Recently, I had the pleasure of co-presenting an intensive professional development workshop with Jimmy Gownley, NY Times best-selling author of Amelia Rules!, where the art of comics unfolded.  Westminster College was the venue for this visual arts workshop, where about 20 educators from the Salt Lake City area and beyond- gathered in the Tanner Atrium to experience the development and the making of comics. The takeaway was being able to successfully lead their own classroom (K-12) comics activity that could integrate curriculum standards.  Comics are highly visual and have a knack for grabbing a student’s attention; particularly reluctant readers- and what a fun way of connecting that student to learning by using a medium that he/she can get excited about.  David Dynak is Professor of Arts Education and Director, Westminster Center for Innovation & Creativity; and was responsible for producing our workshop, which was one component of a 2-week program that included dance, music and theater arts, and made possible by an endowment.  What a thrill it was to work with a group of enthusiastic educators- who spent a great deal of the workshop creating, writing & producing comics, under our guidance- and believe me- it was a lot of work!  Jimmy brought an enormous amount of energy each day and he is literally an encyclopedia of comics history and knowledge, and though this was our first time working together- it went smoothly, with participants telling us that they were under the impression that we travel around presenting like this all the time!  Ha- The Jimmy & Dave Show!  We led them through drawing and writing exercises, used drawing demonstrations and handout sheets, PowerPoint; all in an effort to provide them with the tools they need to create graphic stories.  In all of the professional development workshops I’ve lead, the thing that strikes me most is just how fulfilling it is for educators to gather together and share quality time with one another; giving, taking, empowering.  There was an energy in the room that could be felt, and it is so exciting to be a part of!   Teachers also went home with my  cross-curricular comics lesson plan, which I created in February for the education conference at the Space Center in Houston- teachers LOVE free resources!  David also arranged a book signing for us at The King’s English Bookstore, a really cool little shop with wonderful creaky wooden floors and rooms around every corner filled with the smell of new books.  Many thanks to David and his staff, Racquel, Rebecca and Lucy for making this such an enriching experience for all of us, and for taking such good care of me!