Jim Tripp On Illustrating Stories

Every now and again I have to take comments and make them into blogs so that they can be searched. So sorry if they’re on here twice. Jim’s stuff below about illustrating stories (I asked him to expand on an earlier comment) expands on the original thought of how, mechanically, to get the kids into illustration mode from a story:
My question was:
“…now I have a whole book full of stories that the students illustrated…”.
Could you expand on how that happened? I get that the illustrations came from stories that came from summer props, but how exactly did that happen? Did the kids illustrate when the actual reading was done, so that the illustrating occurred at the end of the process, or exactly how did that happen?
Jim’s response:
How I did it this year is below. Scroll down to the (**) at bottom to read how I will probably do it in the future.
Once we have enough stories to be illustrated (I like 1 story per pair of students, unless the class is smaller, then 1:1 ration works), which is usually at the end of a semester for me, I print out the stories and give them to the students. They work on them in class, supplied with the paper and some colored pencils. I had my student aide put the books together, using a binder and plastic sleeves, complete with a class picture in the front.
It’s important to show students some positive examples of the illustrations before they start, and have them kind of plan out their illustrations beforehand based on the paragraphs in the story. I usually recommend the four-frame illustration, but some kids get creative and do some different formats. The books are really good for showing off to parents also. And when the class knows that their stories are going in a book for all to read, I think it will be incentive to amp up the creativity.
I may requisition for next year to have all of my classes’ stories made into individual books through a website like snapfish.com, maybe a little more inviting to read than a 3-ring binder.
**This just came to me, and your questions above Ben made me think of it. Perhaps it would be much better and easier to assign each pair a story right after the story is read in class, that way they could be up on the wall for other classes to read almost instantaneously. Yeah, I think I may like this idea better.



6 thoughts on “Jim Tripp On Illustrating Stories”

  1. Jim,
    If you are budget-conscious, you can use a booklet-maker app and make booklets out of stories on regular paper, inserting the photos on the front page and laminating the cover. You can leave space on the text pages, or just leave pages open, so that students can illustrate. They’re close to being paperback-sized, and they don’t take up so much room.

  2. I may try that out sometime. I only have 3 classes next year (blocks), so my expense on this will probably be under $50, I think. But for a larger quantity class load, it sounds like the booklet-maker app is the way to go. Thanks Michele!

  3. One thing I’ve had great success with is right before we start asking a story to take two volunteers in the class to illustrate 2-3 scenes from that story. Then right before the reading day, I’ll scan those pictures in and make them a part of the reading that we see in class the next day. After getting used to the routine this adds about 10 minutes additional prep to my creating readings for the next day, but being able to see instant interpretations of the stories really amps up the focus for that reading day. I stagger what classes I do this for so I end up doing “instant illustrations” for each class about every other week or so.
    That said, I love the illustration technique that Jim details above to a) get a higher level of picture sketched, and b) give a good excuse to recycle a story yet another time so that you essentially get a free rep you wouldn’t have otherwise.

  4. Nathan, I do this also, if I have a student who just can’t keep from doodling in class. This year I had a super-talented girl who would draw comics ALL THE TIME. I directed that interest and she quickly became regarded in class as the girl who drew amazing illustrations for the class stories. Of course, this doesn’t always happen because of the spontaneous nature of stories and time constraints, thus for me the necessary structured illustration process for the book.
    Getting the instant illustration up for classes is great. I’m sure this helps the students a lot! This is exactly what prompted the new direction I will probably take, having a kid or two illustrate the story outside of class and bring it in shortly after the reading day. However, it won’t be up for the reading as you have been doing via scanner, which is much better in my opinion.

  5. You know, Jim, I’ve got those superstar artists as well and I am still kicking myself for not using using them as much as I could have. A lot of students like to draw for me, but it’s always a special event when some people in particular illustrate–like with the girl you mentioned–and the rest of the class sits on the edge of their seat a bit more when they draw.
    So now you’ve got me asking myself “Why don’t I schedule these special events more often?” I have indexed over the course of the year which actors I call upon when I need to spice up a particular story; why don’t I do this more with my artists as well?
    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the Thomas Young post “A Stellar Cast” that posted a while back (https://benslavic.com/blog/?p=6775) in wondering am I really finding enough roles for my students to excel in. As we’re implementing more student generated scripts, stories, and now illustrations, this requires us to leave the directors chair for our students to sit in and instead become project managers and producers. I can live with that.

  6. You said it first Nathan. I was actually talking about that girl drawing on a piece of paper, not up in front of the class.
    What you were just speaking about, well, that really only happened about once a month in my class, when we needed a funny looking character for the story. Usually that character would stay up on the wall for a while though, because it would be so funny looking and it would always insert itself into our next story.
    I think that post of Thomas’ is right on too. If our actors and audience know how to play the game, and if we “direct” them well, we will be more of a voice in the background than a one-man show. Less stress.

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