Creating comics can be a good way to get students interested in a creative writing lesson. Earlier this year on Free Technology for Teachers I published a list of five ways to use comics in the classroom. That list is copied below. If you’re looking for some iPad apps that your students can use to complete a comics project, take a look at the three I have reviewed below the list of ideas for using comics in the classroom.
1. Character Analysis: Have your students choose a favorite character from a favorite story and re-write that character into a comic strip story. In their stories students should attempt to demonstrate how their chosen characters would act in a different situation than is described in the original story.
2. Re-telling of historical events: Have your students create short comic strip stories about significant historical events. For example, students could create comic strips about Alexander Graham Bell inventing the telephone. The comic strip could have scenes of Bell working in his laboratory or talking to friends about his invention.
3. Create alternative book reports: Rather than writing a book report have your students create three to five frame comic strips covering the key parts of books they’ve recently read.
4. Create digital citizenship lessons. Have your students create comic strips in which they demonstrate the proper responses to unsafe digital citizenship behaviors.
5. Express feelings: Creating comic strips can be a good way for students to re-tell a situation that made them feel happy, sad, or mad. The use of facial expressions on comic characters is a nice way for students to express their feelings even if they don’t write much within the scene itself.
Make Beliefs Comix is a free multilingual comic strip creation tool that I’ve featured many times over the years on Free Technology for Teachers. Last month, Make Beliefs Comix released an updated iPad app for creating comic strips. The best feature of the app is that it supports the creation of comics in seven languages; English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Latin. The free Make Beliefs Comix iPad app allows students to create two, three, and four panel comic strips. To create comics in the Make Beliefs Comix iPad app you simply select the number of frames you want to use then choose the characters that you want to feature in your story. After choosing your frames and characters you can type text into speech bubbles to tell your story.
Strip Designer is a great comic strip creation tool to add to your students’ iPads. Priced at $2.99 USD it is $2 less than Comic Life and is just as good. Strip Designer provides dozens of comic strip layouts from simple one frame comics to one page layouts in a variety of configurations to multiple page layouts there is probably a layout that works for all students. And if not, your students can create their own custom comic strip layouts in Strip Designer. Strip Designer allows students to create comics from scratch by drawing pictures, taking pictures, or importing pictures. Students can import pictures from a variety of places including Facebook, Dropbox, and the camera roll on their iPads. Each frame in your students’ comic strips is created individually and is not tied to an overall theme. This means that one frame in their comic strips could be based on a photo and the next frame could be based on a drawing. The borders and shading effects for each frame can be individually adjusted too. To help students really tell stories through comics, Strip Designer offers a slew of text editing tools, digital stickers, and drawing tools.
XnSketch is an iPad app that allows you to take pictures on your iPad and turn them into cartoons or add sketch effects to your pictures. You can also use the app to affect the color saturation and clarity of your pictures. All of the images that you alter in XnSketch can be saved to your camera roll or shared to other applications on your iPad. XnSketch is a good option if you’re looking for a simple tool that students can use to enhance their pictures to use in comic strips. If they want to use their XnSketch images in a Google Presentation they could share them to Google Drive through their iPads.