Multiliteracies in ELA Classrooms

“Using Graphic Novels, Anime, and the Internet in an Urban High School”

July 6th, 2014 · No Comments

Both Nancy Frey and Douglas Fisher touched on some very interesting points when discussing “the power [that graphic novels] have for engaging students in authentic writing”(24). Throughout the article, Frey and Fisher both praised graphic novels for being able to motivate and interest students in their writing and participation. However, the impression that I received from the reading was that “engaging students” seemed to be one of the only “positive” factors being emphasized concerning the use of graphic novels. In fairness, this article had one main objection which was to talk about how graphic novels, anime, and the Internet could be used to enhance students’ reading and writing ability, but there were moments when it seemed as if Frey and Fisher were still putting down these very types of literacies.

As a matter of fact, please take a look at the following quote:

“Having begun with the idea that graphic novels were comic books at best and a waste of time at worst, we now realize the power they have for engaging students in authentic writing”(24).

For me, this quote does not portray graphic novels in such a “good” light as it claims to do. For instance, is it stating that graphic novels are not a form of “authentic writing?” Are graphic novels only good for the purpose of motivating and getting students interested until they are able to venture off and do some of the “real” and “authentic” writing stuff? Unless one is using graphic novels for the purpose of “engaging students in authentic writing,” it is not a waste of time, but if one replaces a novel with a graphic novel, would that be deemed acceptable? I do not mean to suggest that the article was completely condescending towards the use of graphic novels, but that this is something that does come into question occasionally.

Please consider the following quote:

“Using graphic novels to scaffold writing instruction helped students practice the craft of writing and gain necessary skills to become competent readers”(23).

For me, this statement hints at this idea that graphic novels are good for students as a “starting point,” but that it’s nothing that students can go further in within their education. This is something that I disagree with, which is why I would love to read another article by Frey and Fisher revolving around their thoughts on the other positive factors that come into play with the use of graphic novels in classrooms.

On a more positive note, I really enjoyed the fact that Frey and Fisher chose to recall a moment where they learned from their own students. They wrote, “We were unfamiliar with the term Gosu but learned that it is a Korean gaming term that means expert. Minh explained that to be named Gosu is the highest honor in Internet interactive games”(24). This reminded me that we as teachers are constantly learning as well, and that we take on the role of both teacher and student in our day-to-day lives.

In conclusion, I think that this article was very positive in the sense of how it showed graphic novels to be a positive tool for classrooms where there are many students who struggle with the English language. However, I think that this article needs to also remind readers that there are many other functions to how useful graphic novels, anime, and the Internet can be within a classroom besides its role to simply engage students to learn about “authentic” writing, and mood and tone.



Frey, N. and Fisher, D. (2004). Using Graphic Novels, Anime, and the Internet in an Urban High School. The English Journal, 93(3), pp. 19-25.


– Kaya Strzalkowski

Tags: Uncategorized

0 responses so far ↓

  • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

You must log in to post a comment.