How is everyone today? I’m feeling great, very inspired, its Wednesday. For those who know me, Wednesday is always my favorite day of the week. Why you might ask? New comic books come out on Wednesday (unless there is a major holiday). Sadly, my comic book collecting days have been numbered for several reasons (budget) but that doesn’t mean once in a great while something new ends up in my possession. The most recent was the blu-ray edition of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. One of the best comic book movies made so far, did you know you can use Captain America to teach history? No, really you can. For almost two years now I have been a big advocate of Reading with Pictures.
Reading With Pictures was founded in 2009 by award-winning graphic novelist and nationally syndicated cartoonist Josh Elder in order to revolutionize the role of comics in education. The organization has since grown to comprise eight board members drawn from publishing and academia, including John Shableski, Sales Manager for Diamond Book Distributors, and David Rapp, an Associate Professor of Learning Sciences and Cognitive Psychology at Northwestern University. They also engage the talents of more than 60 active volunteers from all over the world in various capacities. At Reading With Pictures, it is believe that comics have the potential to be more engaging, more efficient and more effective educational tools than traditional classroom materials. We believe it because we’ve experienced it in our own lives. Comics made us better students, better citizens and better people. Now they hope to share those experiences with pupils in every city, in every school and in every classroom.
Now, everyone is thinking: “Great, I’ve used RWP before or I completely agree but what does this have to do with Cap?” To sum it all up: “a lot.” The original story of Captain America was a super hero that was born during the days of World War II, when Cap was revived in modern comics in the mid 60s in the pages of Avengers #4 vol.1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The pitch was: “A Man out of Time.” Which if you have seen the Avengers and Winter Soldier movies you can see how Steve Rogers is just that. A man out of time adjusting to the modern world. This has been a theme with Captain America for a very long time and even though people have been reading about his adventures for 70+ years now. You can still see that “out of time” aspect of the character. If you are a history or social studies teacher or even an art teacher you can probably see how this can all be directed towards teaching your students but as we know, I’m going to take this one step further for everyone and add in some Teach Like a Pirate lessons and some Tech Smashing.
1. One of the best ways to put this into an edtech way is to create a Thinglink using Captain America. On various spots on the character’s costume especially his trademark shield. Add in history marks on the shield like ripples through time. Have it start with the dawn of World War II and then follow it out to major steps in history afterwards afterwards that Captain America appeared in. Start with his first modern appearance in the 1960s. What were the landmark moments during that decade? What about the 70s, 80s and even today. Within those time ripples add a hyperlink to download a Stick Around Puzzle for students. Students can match those big moments in history. Once students successfully complete the puzzle have them upload it to a Google Drive Folder or their Google Classroom Folder for the teacher.
2. To throw in some Teach Like a Pirate with “The Classroom is a Stage.” I was looking through one of my classrooms and we have all aspects of the classic classroom over the decades. A Blackboard, a White Board, and a Project/Apple TV hook up. Set up a groups in our classroom. Have them dress up as teachers showing a lesson on those three types of boards. The classic blackboard has been around for decades. Each student can dress the part of teacher during the use of those decades and come up with a lesson. Then when you move to white boards which started appearing in the early 90s, do the same. Even have them teach some modern history at the time with the Gulf War or the fall of the USSR. Then when you get to modern times, have the students create their lessons through modern tech like Keynote, Thinglink, Google Apps for Education or even Stick Around Puzzles. Its a great way to students to understand how teaching has changed through the years.
3. For early adopters of the Apple Watch coming early 2015 here is a great way to show students how wearable technology has changed over the decades. Depending on the size of your class, have a set of students select decades or years for how watches were or used during the year or decade. Have the Apple Watch set with not only the faceplate but also have them understand what the watch could do the best at those times and set them. If its 1922, right after the first wrist watches were more common, they only had the minute and hour hands. People would only be able to look at the time and that was it. If they get 1985, the calculator and indiglow watches were starting to be more common. Students only can use those features and have either a classic faceplate or digital faceplate to tell time. If they get today, then the sky is the limit to what they can do on the Apple Watch. Allow each student to get at least 10 minutes of wear time and then have them write up the pros and cons of their type of watch during their set decade and year.
4. Finally, Captain America has had several costumes and even several other people be Captain America since the 1940s. Have students research and do a little Project Runway with them. Why did Jack Kirby design the original costume with Joe Simon? What were his influences? Why does the current Captain America, Sam Wilson costume look the way it does and what are its advantages and disadvantages? Its a great way to get students to think about design and how it reflects with the attitude and fashions of the time.
That’s it, go out, and pick up your shield and start teaching with Captain America.