While I’ve written about the benefits of using comics with students before, I thought I’d outline several sites that allow students to create professional looking comics without needing email addresses or requiring students to create user names. In fact, all of these sites allow students to create comics without providing any personal information at all. This can be really beneficial in protecting students identities online but it also creates some inconveniences. The sites do not allow students to collaborate with peers on their comic creations and do not permit the work to be saved to be revised later. Do not be discouraged, however. Each of these sites offer loads of features to create comics and provide rich educational experiences for students.
If you’re debating whether you should use comics as a form of assessment with your students, consider all of the different skills and talents that students have to draw upon when they write a comic. Besides selecting images and backgrounds, students write scripts that convey the mood and storyline of the comic. I read an article in Wired magazine a few years ago that challenged conventional views of student writing. While some scholars bemoan that students are writing less than ever, Clive Thompson argues that we need to expand what we count as “writing.” When you consider all of the different forms of writing that our students do (texting, blogging, emails, etc), Thomspon writes, students are writing more than ever. The Internet (and sites that allow comic creating) offers exciting new opportunities for students to write and express themselves.
Want to create a single or multiple frame comic with Lego characters as the central figures? Check out this site from Lego City. It’s really easy to use and offers several different backgrounds, characters and accessories so students can create a variety of different stories. Check out this mini-comic I created to promote the 8 Blog.
This site features many of the Marvel characters (Iron Man, Spiderman, etc) and offers a variety of villains for students to stage their own battles. With the latest comic book and super hero craze hitting America, the site would be a great way to engage students and motivate them to do some writing.
While this site does not have Marvel or Lego supporting it, Make Beliefs Comix is a really strong application. It offers twenty different characters each with a variety of poses. The site does not offer many background choices (only colors) and only provides a handful of objects. While some may see this lack of features as a downside, it may actually help to focus students solely on the writing process. Here is an example of a comic I created using Make Beliefs Comix.
This resource from the folks at ReadWriteThink is supported by the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English and receives funding from Verizon. Unlike the other sites featured in this post, the focus of Comic Creator is much more on education. The site offers suggestions for using Comic Creator with different grade levels and provides scaffolds and prompts to help students with their creations. While it may lack some of the flash of the Marvel and Lego sites, it is definitely a useful resource even if only to obtain comic integration ideas to use with other sites.