Marika McCoola has worked with schools and libraries to run a variety of programs about the relationship between words and text. Programs have included graphic novel and journaling workshops as well as presentations on the writing, editing, and publishing process. An advocate for visual literacy, Marika is available to speak with both children and adults and is happy to tailor her workshops to fit current units or curriculum. Please email Marika to inquire about programs and availability.
"Having taught MAUS in my 8th grade curriculum for almost ten years and seeing first-hand the power that well-written graphic novels can have with students of all abilities and interests, Marika McCoola's upcoming novel, Baba Yaga's Assistant is sure to be a hit with Middle Level educators. A talented and passionate artist/author, amazing things are sure to continue to come from Marika that will undoubtedly enrich classrooms lucky enough to hear her speak in person or to experience her work."
Rob Manning, Teacher, Glens Falls Middle School
Comics in the classroom
Each workshop requires a minimum of 40 minutes.
Students will be introduced to the visual iconography of comics, including speech bubbles, motion lines, and thought bubbles. We will discuss why they know how to read these symbols, and how to read the panels of a graphic novel. Time, movement, and sequencing will be covered in this discussion. Next, we'll discuss characterization. Students will generate a list of what a writer/artist should know about a character. Students will draw their characters with the option of writing information about the character on the page.
During the second half of the workshop, students will be introduced to both wordless storytelling methods (such as David Wiesner's Tuesday and Chris Raschka's A Ball for Daisy) and comics that utilize both words and text (a variety of TOON Books' beginning readers). Creating stories with conflict and a beginning, middle, and end will be discussed. Finally, students will use panel paper, cut out speech bubbles and thought bubbles, pencils, and markers to create comics. During this period I will circulate, using open-ended questions to encourage students to take their work to the next level.
This workshop can be adjusted to meet the needs of art and/or English units and can be used in classroom with mixed grades/levels.
Students will be introduced to the visual iconography of comics, including speech bubbles, motion lines, and thought bubbles. We will discuss why they know how to read these symbols, and how to read the panels of a graphic novel. Time, movement, and sequencing will be covered in this discussion. Next, we'll discuss characterization. Students will generate a list of what a writer/artist should know about a character. Students will draw and write about their characters.
During the second half of the workshop, students will be introduced to graphic novels and books that use visual storytelling (such as The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, and Owly). We'll discuss story arc, conflict, and resolution and students will use an outline to develop a storyline. Finally, students will use panel paper, paper, pencils, and markers to create comics. During this time, I will circulate, using open-ended questions to encourage students to take their work to the next level.
Grades 6+ Graphic Novel Workshop
In this workshop, students will learn about visual literacy, analyze the relationship of words and text using the elements of writing, and practice drawing and descriptive writing to reach a better understanding of how graphic novels are created. Students will be shown examples of graphic novels and panel descriptions. Through a variety of writing and drawing exercises, students will create panels and panel descriptions with an eye toward understanding how words and pictures work together to create characterization, setting, mood, point of view, plot, tension, and pacing.
Teachers are asked to provide pencils, erasers, and white paper for this workshop. Please allow 40-90 minutes for this workshop. This workshop can be adjusted to meet the needs of English and art units and can be used in classrooms with mixed grades/levels.
Bookmaking or Zine Residency
In this 5-10 day residency, students will create books based on recent units or topics. Analyzing, curating, distilling, and presenting information is integral to the creation of a book. Students will participate in lessons on books, bookmaking, researching, sequencing, writing, illustration, and structure, each lesson supporting an aspect of the book creation process. Students will then create a book presenting their knowledge of the chosen topic. The residency culminates in an “Author Reception” where students present their books to the class.
Middle and high school residencies can focus on the creation of zines rather than books. A zine, or independent magazine, is easily reproduced and students can therefore create multiple copies to distribute to classmates, teachers, and the wider community. A presentation on printing techniques and their impact on the distribution of information will tie zine-making to social studies curriculum.
*This workshop can be done with technological assistance or without, depending upon school resources and teacher preference.
Undergraduate, Graduate, and Adult Workshops
Writing and Drawing
Writing and drawing work to support each other. The fine motor skills developed by drawing are used for writing. Historically and developmentally, writing grows from drawing skills, so why disconnect the two? Many students stop drawing before high school if they are not considered gifted at drawing. However, drawing and doodling can actually help many students to focus and retain information, especially visual and kinesthetic learners. Experience some simple drawing exercises and learn how you can integrate drawing into your classroom exercises. At least half an hour is suggested for this workshop.
Teaching the Graphic Novel
How does one select a graphic novel for use in the classroom? How can graphic novels be used in the classroom? Graphic novels can be used as a part of English curriculum (both fiction and non-fiction), and to support history and social studies concepts. Learn how to analyze and select strong graphic novels for use in the classroom, introduce students to visual literacy, apply the elements of writing to both words and images, and create supporting activities. Participants will leave this workshop with booklists and sample exercises to use in the classroom. At least an hour and a half is requested for this workshop. *This workshop can be presented as a lecture for large groups.
Adult Art Workshops
These workshops are designed with specific limitations as to materials and techniques. There is no set product that a participant will produce. Rather, the workshops seek to encourage creativity without overwhelming the participant. These work well as paint and sip sessions and all experience levels are welcome.
Stencils and Collage
Participants will be provided with hand-cut stencils, a limited palette of four colors, and cut papers. Palettes, stencils, and cut papers will vary.
Relief Printmaking & Bookbinding
Participants will carve a rubber block and print it on paper. As the print dries, participants will learn basic bookbinding methods. Using the prints as covers, the participants will sew their own books.
Custom Fabric Envelopes: Stamping on Fabric & Hand Sewing
A brief lesson on patterns and images on printed textiles will open the class. Using sketches, participants will carve rubber blocks. These blocks will then be used to stamp the images onto cloth. Participants can make a single impression of the image or multiple impressions to create a pattern. Using simple hand-sewing techniques, participants will then sew their printed fabric into an envelope purse or bag.
Children's Art Classes
Learn about Pop Art and then paint an image of a Lego minifigure. After a brief lesson on Pop Art and a demonstration of acrylic techniques, students will paint their own minifigure masterpieces on canvases.
Brick Building & Drawing
Learn the basics of 1-point and 2-point perspective by drawing Lego creations! Pencil and colored pencil will be used.
Learn basic drawing, painting, and collage techniques. Historical examples will be used in each class and students will be introduced to the elements and principles of art.
Clay, found objects, paint, fabric, cardboard, beads...so many things can be combined to create art! This class is based on my three-dimensional illustration work and is presented with a theme (characters, self-portraits, habitats, vehicles, etc.)
Custom Fabric Envelopes: Stamping on Fabric & Hand Sewing
A brief lesson on patterns and images on printed textiles will open the class. Using sketches, participants will carve rubber blocks. These blocks will then be used to stamp the images onto cloth. Participants can make a single impression of the image or multiple impressions to create a pattern. Using simple hand-sewing techniques, participants will then sew their printed fabric into an envelope purse or bag. Ages 10-14. Can also be taught as a parent-child class for children ages 8+ and an accompanying parent. Great for Mother's Day!