This is a guest post from Stephanie Krisulevicz.
For the last few years I’ve been using cartoons in my classroom to assess my students knowledge. I’m sure you’re thinking, “Yeah, yeah, my principal would think I’ve lost my mind letting them play like that.” Don’t discredit the idea just yet! I’ve found that it’s quite possible to work comics into multiple disciplines effectively and creatively. Bonus, it also creates a fabulous, quick, and colorful bulletin boards.
Here’s two of favorite apps for creating comics. Make Beliefs Comix and Storyboard That
Makebeliefscomix.com is totally free, but the site has somewhat limited graphics. It’s drag and drop, easy to move, resize, or delete the options. The kids pick it up rather quickly and have a blast with it. Also, the children don’t need to make an account.
My newest choice of comic creator is Storyboardthat.com. There is a limited free version, or an unlimited paid version. The nice thing with the paid version is that you can set up classes, push assignments from your dashboard, and keep track of student progress.
Now, how about some great ways to use comics!
English class is a no-brainer. Jazz up that grammar lesson you presented. Instead of a worksheet, I assign a particular grammar component, punctuation, and/or sentence type that I want them to practice. Conversely, I create the comic and they have to identify the different grammar concepts or identify mistakes, as in the example above.
Reading and writing are another great subject. We can use different literary elements that we’re discussing. Metaphors and similes are great in comics! Plus you can't create comics without onomatopoeia! Want your students to get better at summarizing a book? Have them do it in a three or four panel comic. That truly makes them think!
Bet you’re wondering how I use them in math? Word stories! It can be just as challenging to write a word problem as it is to solve it. What better way to see if your students understand how to apply a concept than to write a word problem for it? It also creates discussion about how the problems need to be worded, and how critical math terminology can be. This is a great way to assess their skills both as the writer and the solver. Check out the example I included above.
Social Studies is another fun topic. Have historical figures converse about an event or discuss the reasons why something happened. Usually we use Fakebook for this one, but you can also use comic strips as well.
While I don’t teach a foreign language, I know that Make Beliefs Comix can help if you do! They offer several different language options to create topics. Foreign language students can practice conjugating verbs, sentence structure, or vocabulary while showing their creativity.
I’m certain you can think of many more ways to incorporate comics into your lessons. I’ve just listed a few. I hope you give them a try! Your students will surprise you with their creativity and sense of humor!
About the author:
Stephanie is currently a 5th grade academics and 4th grade tech teacher at The Salisbury School on the Eastern Shore of Md. She often leads professional developments sessions for integrating technology to her colleagues and has presented at the Thinking and Learning with iPads conference and the ERB National Conference. You can follow her on Twitter at @MrsKris5
Disclosure: Storyboard That is an advertiser on FreeTech4Teachers.com