C2E2 and Comics Education Outreach and Come Drink and Draw With Us!

For the past few years, Eric Kallenborn and I, along with a bunch of other teachers, have had a big hand in planning educational programming for cons like C2E2 (Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo), but this year is a little different for us. This is our first year as the Comics Education Outreach program! What is Comics Education Outreach, you ask? Here is a quote from our “About” page:

The Comics Education Outreach (CEO) is made up of a group of veteran teachers who are passionate about the educational value of graphic novels and comics. CEO promotes [comics as a] new approach to literacy in multiple ways:

  • We develop graphic novel & comics reviews across the spectrum of subjects and grade levels to bring attention to educational potential of these unique texts.
  • We share stories of our successes and failures using graphic works in the classroom, helping you to start strong and avoid common mistakes.
  • We host panels and workshops at comic and educational conventions across the United States, joining together with other educators, artists, publishers and authors to spread the word about the teaching and learning potential graphic texts offer.
  • Most exciting, we’re running a graphic novel/comics lending library of several popular graphic novels — complete with lesson plans! (Coming soon)

This year we are involved in ten panels at C2E2, and we are honored to have such a big role in such an amazing show. Here are our panels:

Friday, April 22nd

Comics and New Literacy: Exploring Classroom Innovations

This panel of educators and industry professionals will explore the ever-changing climate of literacy and its connection to the graphic novel/comics classroom. It will explore and discuss the amazing ways in which comics have been utilized to expand student literacy including multiple ways in which to build vocabulary, use graphic novels to bridge difficult texts (such as Shakespeare), and engage reluctant students as both readers and writers.


Content Literacy: Teaching STEAM with Comics

Bring a one-two punch to teaching STEAM: text and images teaming up in comics! Comics have been shown to improve reader engagement while enhancing both comprehension and retention. And with the new emphasis on reading nonfiction, academic vocabulary, and reading in the subject areas, comics are more relevant than ever. Join educators and comics creators as they present their specific strategies as well as a list of some of the best comics and graphic novels for teaching STEAM topics.


Teaching More than the Basics: Pairing Comics and Chapter Texts in the Classroom

Smile and The Scarlet Letter? Maus and Night? American Born Chinese and The Joy Luck Club? The Sandwalk Adventures and Origin of the Species? Even some of the authors and artists hadn’t counted on their work sharing shelf space with the classics! Join a panel of educators and creators as they consider how teachers of all subjects can effectively juxtapose graphic novels with canonical texts to help scaffold and front load literary concepts, scientific principals, and reading strategies.


 Educator Networking Session

Hosted by the Comics Education Offensive in conjunction with First Second Books. Meet like-minded professionals, swap ideas and create new professional relationships in this networking session! This networking event is aimed at Teachers, but those of related professions are also welcome.


Straight Outta Comics: Students Exploring Their Pathway Into Comics

High school students from Community High School District 218, joined by their teacher, will discuss their experiences of getting into comics through the new comics/graphic novel elective, what appeals to them about the medium, and how the classroom is made for this type of learning. With the students having the freedom to create and explore through this new medium, this student-centered panel allows for voices to be heard that are not normally heard in this type of setting.


When Comic Shops, Teachers and Librarians Work Together

It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of teachers or librarians walking into a comic shop was thought of as insane, or against the laws of nature. Now with the explosion of the use of the comics medium for k-12 teachers as well as public libraries, there’s an incredible opportunity for comic shop owners to create partnerships with their local librarians and teachers to become a trusted resource.


Saturday, April 22nd

Gender Identity: Understanding Through Art                                       

At the forefront of modern social debate is the nature of gender identity and how we move forward culturally with new understanding of the diversity within. Many contemporary graphic novels directly and indirectly address this debate by providing fictional and non-fictional representations of individuals expressing and explaining how the definitions of both identity and gender have evolved. This panel will gather artists and critics to discuss the value of these texts to the conversation.


Workshop: Basic Drawing for the “Non-Artist”

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for professionals when it comes to incorporating art as part of a professional project is the feeling that “I am no artist.” At some point between childhood (when art instruction leads to learning how to read, write, and understand language and storytelling) and adolescence (where the focus shifts to primary text-based reading) we forget that each of us can and is an artist. This workshop will help bring out the artist, that has always been there, in you.


Books As Flint: Using Graphic Novels to Spark Political Activism

Whether it be in the classroom or in the home, it can be difficult to open conversations about politics, race, religion, misogyny, and bigotry. This panel will explore comic/graphic novel titles that work to open up those conversations as well as hopefully spark some political/social activism among those affected. We will also explore activism options that could be/have been incepted from these reads.


Sunday April 23rd

The Representation Book Shelf: Building A More Diverse Comics Classroom

Building a 21st century graphic novel library in your classroom is a daunting task. A library which appeals to the diverse nature of your student body can make this challenging. This panel will gather teachers and creators together to discuss the importance of diverse titles in classroom libraries as well as suggestions for titles to fill that shelf.


But wait! There’s more!

We are also running a fundraiser at Baderbrau Brewery that will help support all of those things we do (especially the lending library). Friday, April 21st, The Comics Education Outreach will be hosting, in partnership with Pop Culture Classroom, and Baderbrau Brewery, an amazing night of art, music, drinks, and raffles!

Headlining band will be TIME CRASH! Everyone’s favorite Doctor Who themed rock group…


Baderbrau will open its doors to us at 6:00 P.M., and the event will run until midnight!

For a $20.00 donation to the non-profit at the door, you will receive a free drink token, admission to the amazing line-up of bands, and two free raffle tickets to enter to win great prizes! Additional raffle tickets will be sold at the event.

We will also be featuring a number of great artists that will be drawing LVIE from 7:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. at which time we will hold a silent auction for the pieces of art that they create over the two-hour period! Heck, stop by just to watch some fantastic art being created!  

Thank you to all the people who donated things to our raffle!

Alleycat Comics, Alternate Reality Comics, Challengers Comics, Chicago Comics, First Aid Comics, Chimera Comics, Bookie’s New and Used books, Barnes & Noble, 350 Brewing, Baderbrau Brewery, and Jim McClain and Solution Squad (who has a GREAT book you should look at on Kickstarter)

Thank you for reading to the end! I will be writing more in this space soon, but I will also be writing a ton over at the CEO site, so check there often as well. Thank you all so much on this journey to get more comics in the classroom. As always: #teachcomics


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