Having a Mental Block Related to Robert Frost & Comics

Perhaps everyone else is shaking their heads and saying “where have YOU been” but until my son introduced me to the site Zen Pencils  today, I was unaware of its existence. There are great cartoons/comics drawn for lots of inspirational material (look for the Neil Gaiman one! Or the J.K Rowling one! And more!). And there is a really nice one for “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, which we are in the midst of studying in class at the moment.

“A yellow wood”
Photo by Gil Epshtein

My first thought was: “Perfect for my visually minded students!”.

My second thought was: “I don’t know how to use this in class!”

It’s not like me to draw a complete blank, so I turn to you for help.

I have two groups of students studying it. The first, small group, are strong students who are about to finish the poem and its related activities. I can safely say they understood the poem. Writing a description related to the pictures sounds a boring  and irrelevant task…

The other group are weak students with poor vocabularies (the only words they understood in the poem before we began it were basically “and”, ” two”,  “yellow” “morning” and “day”). We still have a lot of work to do on the poem and I believe the comics could be useful for understanding it. However, I can’t simply say: “Look at this!” Most kids will give it 10 seconds of their attention if there isn’t something active that needs to be done. Since I don’t teach frontally (but rather in the format of a learning center with10th, 11th and 12th graders  all mixed), we can’t all look at it together. The students studying the poem come at different times (some students are at too low a level to study this poem).

I’m stumped. Any suggestions?



8 thoughts on “Having a Mental Block Related to Robert Frost & Comics”

  1. Hi Naomi,
    Maybe I can help you out for a change. I’ve taken so many interesting ideas from you. Here’s what I thought of:
    Let the kids spend those 10 seconds on the cartoons. When they understand what it’s all about, you might want to read the author’s interpretation below (for your better class). Then maybe assign one of the comments by readers to each pupil (you can choose a suitable level comment depending on each pupil’s level) and have the pupils read the comment chosen (or let them choose), and write an answer to that comment. Some guidance in writing helps:
    1) restate what you understood from the comment
    2) why do yu agree/disagree with what was said/ how do you feel about the comment and why
    3) give a personal example to support (2)

    1. Renee!
      Thanks so much for your kind words!
      It hadn’t occured to me that the comments could be utitlized as well. You’ve opened a whole new way of looking at online material – I haven’t been utilizing this option at all.
      Thank you!

  2. Posted on behalf of Koby Lavy:
    Hi Naomi,
    I think the comic is wonderful and I don’t think there’s much to do with it other than show this interpretation of the poem. I, for one, don’t teach it this way – we talk in class about the consequences of our decisions and the paths we choose in life and here in this interpretation it’s a bit different than what I’m used to think – that it builds up to almost the same ending no matter what you chose.
    I would make them write something about this interpretation – to show whether they agree or not or make one of their own (short video clip or ppt). I love this cartoon. Thank you for sharing it with us 🙂

    1. Koby,
      I’ve been thinking about the difference in interpretation that you brought up (see! You readers have gotten my mind to begin working again!). I think that beacause it is presented so clearly in a visual manner even my weak students could compare the interpretation.
      Useful advice, thank you!

  3. Posted on behalf of Mona Shreiber:
    Maybe you could ask them to write about which way they prefer, which path
    seems to be a better choice and why.

    –Or maybe limit it to comparing one frame they can relate to and change it
    into a dilemma by framing a question like: Should I study or travel?

    1. Mona,
      Oh, you are right. Even having them comparing one frame can be useful, I don’t have to have them working on all of it.
      Thank you Mona!

  4. I would have them discuss whether these paths could cross and which of the two – study or university – they would consider “the road less traveled”. The cartoon describes one dilemma at the beginning which determines the character’s entire life, but what other decisions did he make along the way and what other outcomes were possible?
    The scene that comes to my mind is Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof – “On one hand…, one the other hand…”

    1. Kara,
      Oh, the places to go with this comics! Try one thing this year, another next year.
      It’s good having these suggestions here where I can find them.
      Thank you!

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