The power of concept cartoons
Concept cartoons are drawings which showcase a collection of viewpoints about an idea that children debate together. Cartoon-style characters are presented engaging in a conversation using speech bubbles.
How can you use concept cartoons?
The cartoons are normally used in group settings where children benefit from the opportunities to meaningfully debate with and challenge their peers. They can be used at the beginning of a topic or part way through to extract children’s ideas, pinpoint areas of uncertainty and, crucially, identify misconceptions.
Concept cartoons can be used in a variety of ways throughout the maths curriculum. Let’s take multiplication as an example, and tackle the common misconception that “multiplication makes bigger.”
Ask children to consider the following statements:
Divide children into small groups of three to share their ideas. Make it very clear to children that the focus of the task is on understanding, and that understanding is a team effort involving different ways of thinking.
Have children complete a Reasoning Board where they attempt to justify their group’s thinking and provide evidence for each speech bubble statement.
Here is an example:
The statements definitely promote cognitive conflict and you can see within these responses that there are rich opportunities for deeper thinking. Children may agree, disagree, or offer a new way of looking at the concept under discussion in a way that no one else has thought of.
This is also the time to open up the debate to the whole class in order to show particular examples such as multiplying by negative numbers, proper fractions, or improper fractions.
By discussing ideas together in this way, children will enrich their understanding and come to realise that multiplication doesn’t always make things bigger. Concept cartoons are a flexible classroom tool for engaging and generating high quality talk for learning across the maths curriculum.
Take a look at the following resource to start using with your class!