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Lesson Plan

Comic Makeovers: Examining Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Media

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Comic Makeovers: Examining Race, Class, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Media

Grades 9 – 12
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Five 50-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Traci Gardner

Traci Gardner

Blacksburg, Virginia


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



Stereotyped images create false ideals that real people can't hope to live up to, foster low self-esteem for those who don't fit in, and restrict people's ideas of what they're capable of. In this lesson, students explore representations of race, class, ethnicity, and gender by analyzing comics over a two-week period and then re-envisioning them with a "comic character makeover." This activity leads to greater awareness of stereotypes in the media and urges students to form more realistic visions of these images as they perform their makeovers.

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Comic Creator: This online tool allows students to easily create and print comic strips.

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Our students are surrounded by texts, print and nonprint, that take advantage of the increasing options for combining words, images, sounds, and other media to create a publication. As these options increase, the capabilities that students must develop to be knowledgeable members of their literacy communities also increase. As the 1975 NCTE Resolution on Promoting Media Literacy states, "new critical abilities 'in reading, listening, viewing, and thinking' . . . enable students to deal constructively with complex new modes of delivering information, new multisensory tactics for persuasion, and new technology-based art forms."

Perhaps one of the simpler forms of media to explore in the classroom is the cartoon or comic strip. As Rocco Versaci explains, however, cartoons can be quite valuable in the classroom, for "placing a comic book-the basic form of which [students] no doubt recognize-into the context of the classroom . . . can catch students off guard in a positive way, and this disorientation . . . [can lead] students to become more engaged by a given work" (62).

Further Reading

National Council of Teachers of English. 1975. Resolution on Promoting Media Literacy. October 2009. Web. http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/promotingmedialit

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Versaci, Rocco. "How Comic Books Can Change the Way Our Students See Literature: One Teacher's Perspective." English Journal 91.2 (November 2001): 61-67.

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