Comic Strips – An Interactive Notebook Assignment

Just read the story of a battle? Someone’s biography? A myth?

Then it just might be time for a comic strip. I like to assign these when the notes/information are more narrative in nature. A good comic strip or storyboard will take on average 20-30 minutes of time.

These are the directions I give my students:

Comic Strip: A comic strip is an illustrated summary.


ð        Read about the event or person in your notes.

ð        Highlight the 8 most important things that happened in the event or the person’s life.

ð        Turn your notebook sideways and title your storyboard on the margin line.

ð        Separate the remainder of the page into eight panels, like this:




(image didn’t copy – draw a line through the middle, then a line to intersect, then a line halfway to the left and a line halfway to the right for 8 good panels)

ð        At the top or bottom of each box, write your caption.  Your caption must be at least one complete sentence and explain what is going on in your illustration.


ð        Above or below the caption, draw your illustration.  This should be appropriate, meaningful, and colored.

ð        When you have finished, your comic strip should be a meaningful summary of the event or person’s life we have studied.



Instructional note – As with all notebook assignments, you will need to model. I like to share a few that were done on an unrelated topic before we get started, but that is the benefit of having used this strategy before. When I didn’t have samples, we sometimes did one together. A simple and worthwhile trial is to illustrate the pledge of allegiance in eight panels. Once the students understand that they are simply illustrating their captions, it goes pretty smoothly from there.

comic-strip1 This is a summary of the Romulus and Remus myth.

comic-strip2 Another version of Romulus and Remus.

comic-strip3 This child prefered this orientation for their Romulus/Remus strip – that was fine with me. I try not to “nitpick” the instructions if the child has a preference that doesn’t significantly impact the assignment.

Other ideas for comic strips:

  • summarize a battle from the Punic Wars
  • summarize the life of Julius Caesar
  • summarize the contest between Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci
  • summarize the spread of the Black Death
  • summarize the steps to knighthood
  • summarize a day in the life of a serf

The list could go on and on. Actually, the serf option is something that my students just completed – I’ll need to take some pictures and update this post.

Differentiation option: If you have a notes section that fits for a comic strip – it would pair nicely with several other assignments. After we learned about the daily life of a serf, students had a choice between completing a comic strip, writing a diary entry, and making a sensory figure of a serf. All three processing assignments accomplished the same goal, while allowing students choices to fit their individual needs.

2 comments so far

  1. Michelle on

    Hi, I was wondering how I subscribe to your blog (I don’t know how to Twitter but I’m interested in your teaching). I have been teaching middle school for 14 years and I use interactive notebooks, as well.


  2. mrsgannon on

    Hi Michelle! Thank you for your interest. If you use wordpress, you can use the subscribe feature. The easiest way though I’ve found is to use an aggregator like Google Reader. That’s how I keep up with the blogs I read. What content do you teach?

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