Comics for Learning

Great comics are a bit like poetry – poems and haikus can tell rich and emotive stories with just a few words. By carefully crafting words and pictures comics (or their more upmarket name of “Graphic Novels” ) can tell amazing stories. Look at tales  like “Maus” by Art Spiegelman or “When the Wind Blows” by Raymond Briggs,  brilliant examples of how powerful a “graphic novel” can be, how an unforgettable story about a complex issue can be told in a few words and images.

Comics are simple to create  by students of all ages with websites like Comic Master, Toondoo and Strip Generator.

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Using these tools, comics are so simple to create that anyone, regardless of artistic talent can create professional looking comics quickly or in great detail for a huge variety of purposes. Use comics to tell stories or share thoughts and they are a great way for students to reflect on or summarise their learning.

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 4.07.37 pmComics have been loved by children for years and are an engaging way to encourage reading but there are many more oportunites  to use comics to develop literacy skills. Summarise books, perhaps The Lorax by Dr Seuss to explain the environmental issues presented in the text. For some great ideas for using comics in English you might like to check out “Teaching English Through Comics”

Comics are an effective way to create a story map to plan writing or to develop vocabulary and practice using speech in narratives. But think outside the “frame” and use comics to explain mathematical or scientific concepts, document experiments or retell historic or political events.-  Imagine the possibilities.


What did you do on your holidays?

blank pageWhen you were student do you remember the first day of school. The excitement of seeing your friends, meeting your new teachers, the magical smell of books that had never been used and were a blank canvas, just waiting for you. Then disappointment when a teacher would say – write about what you did on your holidays! As teachers we know the importance of those first few days. Learning about our students, letting them know about us, building relationships and setting the scene for the year.  We need something much more exciting, engaging and open ended than the traditional essay about the holidays. As Alan November wrote, we need “to set the tone for powerful, engaging and self-directed learning”.

Here are a few alternatives using free Web 2 tools that you and your students could use to provide opportunities for creativity and for students to share their stories with their classmates and you.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 4.04.04 pmWORD CLOUDS Students could create word clouds about themselves using their own descriptors or gather words from friends and family . Try Wordle,, Tagxedo, or Tagul

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GLOGSTER or MUSEUM BOX – create a multimedia poster to showcase skills, interests and passions

SURVEY students about they interests, skills, goals, hobbies, expertise they could share with classmates or what they would like to learn during the year using Google Docs or Survey Monkey

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 4.41.24 pmCOMIC MASTER or MAKEBELIEFCOMIX are simple tools to make great comics. Perhaps this would be a more exciting way for students to retell one aspect of their holidays?

An iMOVIE Trailer about their hopes or goals for the year

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 4.48.28 pmStudents could use ANIMOTO to make a short movie about the famous thing they will do, or great achievement they will make in the future.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 4.56.23 pmBLABBERIIZE would be a great way for students to share the most amazing moment of their holiday