Teaching Immigration with Graphic Novels and Found Poetry

The Arrival

I introduced an immigration unit to my 8th graders with Shaun Tan’s The Arrival.  My instructions were to “read” the book.  Now, if you’ve never read The Arrival, it is a graphic novel with absolutely no words.  It was fascinating to see my more traditional students really struggle over how to “read” this book, and amazing to see those visual learners and outside of the box thinkers plow right through it.  While reading, they had to keep track of characters, setting, problem(s), solution(s), and symbols.  This generated a great discussion about using symbols in writing.  From that, they were to create a “found poem” with words or phrases from the book.  The problem?  There are no words or phrases in the book…now that was a challenge!  Click the book (double click to read each poem) that we created above to view my 8th grader’s interpretation of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival through found poetry.  Enjoy!

8 thoughts on “Teaching Immigration with Graphic Novels and Found Poetry

  1. Chris Wondra

    That is so cool! I teach 8th grade language arts too so I really like this idea. And I love what you did with/at youblisher. I’d never seen that application before.

    Do you think I could interest you in sharing this post in the next Edge of Education Carnival at weteachwelearn.org?

    It is exactly the type of “edgy” teaching we are looking to spread the word about.


    1. mrspal1 Post author

      Thanks so much, Chris. I would be honored to share it in the next Edge of Education Carnival! Let me know if you need additional information about the assignment or specific instructions on how to create a document on youblisher.

  2. Chris Wondra

    Any additional information you would like to share would be great. But only if you’d like. This post is great as is to describe the assignment. Perhaps you’d consider a separate post describing youblisher.

    Great stuff.

    I’m just finishing up the Carnival due to publish today, so you have a whole month to figure out whatever you want to do. This is exactly the kind of post I’m looking for though, so anything you send my way would be great!



  3. Jessica Leader

    From your follow on Twitter (thanks!), I found your incredible assignment and book. I loved them! I adored THE ARRIVAL, too, and was interested to note how my more-wordy-than-visual self had to literally tell myself the story in words in order to make sense of it (the opposite of many of my students, I’m sure!) The poetry that I could read in your book was incredibly strong. What a rich and exciting assignment! Your students are so lucky–I hope they know it!

  4. mrspal1 Post author

    Thanks so much Jessica! I cannot wait to share this post with my students…they will be in awe that a real author posted about their writing! Wow…how amazing is that?? I am very excited to read your new book! I teach a unit on India as well in 7th grade, and I think this could be a great addition to my choice book list! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my blog!

  5. Jessica Leader

    The pleasure was all mine, really. I’m still thinking about that captivating flip-book. (Mm…flippy pages.)

    So exciting to hear you’re considering adding NICE AND MEAN to your choice book list! If you ever wanted to follow up with an author visit over Skype, do let me know. Your students seem great!

    Happy teaching–


  6. Anne Lin

    I work as a imigration agent and a year 11 English teacher in Australia. The print and TV Media in Australia constantly strike fear when it comes immigration, and I was looking for a book that I could use on the topic. I’ve just ordered it of Amazon so hopefully it will go as well as it sounds

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