By Candace Birkelbach

Killeen Daily Herald

Students from Nolan Middle School in Killeen created their very own comic books to explain the six essential questions of geography instead of just taking down notes from a textbook.

Students from Kelly Fife's seventh-grade Texas history class presented their work at a faculty meeting Wednesday evening. The students showed teachers how to create a graphic novel using the Comic Book Creator program.

According to Wikipedia, a graphic novel "is a type of comic book, usually with a lengthy and complex storyline similar to those of novels."

Fife said graphic novels facilitate teaching for students who are reluctant readers.

"Graphic novels offer spatial learning for those who need to see things visually," Fife said. "It helps students create what they see in their minds."

Fife's students worked in groups to complete the assignment in four days. Only one day was needed to explain the software to the students, Fife said. A $600 grant enabled the students to use the software program used to create the comic books.

The six questions of geography that students were required to include in their graphic novels were: place, region, human/environment interaction, human systems and physical systems.

Student Christopher Cormier said the class could have learned about geography by taking notes and reading the information, but it used comic books instead.

"This technology is what's fun to us," Christopher said. "It's better than book work, which is pretty boring."

Cormier explained the steps involved in designing a graphic novel.

A background is selected either from the program's vault or personal picture files, he said. Characters are then added by using clip art. Then, quote balloons are added for the characters to talk.

A few other elements can be added to the story through sound, animation and caption boxes, Christopher said.

"Graphic novels are the key to these students' success," Fife said at the presentation to faculty members. "It makes anyone willing to read the text when they see the graphics."

Fife said students prefer this type of learning method to taking notes or filling out a worksheet. He urged other teachers to use Comic Book Creator.

Fife said creating a storyboard first helps students visualize their stories.

Students who presented their graphic novels at the faculty meeting will travel to Waco Middle School to give other teachers a similar presentation about the Comic Book Creator program.

Contact Candace Birkelbach at or call (254) 501-7553

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