Web 2.0 Blog Project

How Can Comics Be Used in the Classroom?

I’ve been brainstorming ways Comic Strips can be used beneficially in the classroom. Below I have left a list. If you have an idea(s) please add them to the list via the comments.

  1. Students create comics displaying a concept that they have learned. For example, students could create one about the life cycle of the butterfly. Problem: most sites don’t have the different stages of the butterfly. Solution: use a drawing program with students and have them draw the stages. Then upload them to ToonDoo.com.
  2. Have students use comics show hard to understand concepts like literal vs. figurative, similes and metaphors, synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms, etc.
  3. Have students create multiple comics about a said character or an event, but have them use a different setting for each to show how a setting can affect a story
  4. Students can create a comic about emotions. In each picture they can create a panel displaying when they feel that emotion.
  5. Do a problem and solution activity. Give the students a problem and have them solve it in their comic strip.

And the Winner is ToonDoo

In my previous post on Web 2.0 Comic Strips, while I was happy to have found some serviceable sites, I was still looking for more. I still believe the best option is the program “ComicLife”, but I think I have found the best Web 2.0 site out there to create your strips: http://www.toondoo.com/. It was by far the easiest to use and made awesome looking strips.

Pros:

* Lots of characters, backgrounds, and props

* Can email directly to your teacher

* Kid friendly

* Can upload photos if you desire

Cons:

* Not just an educational site, some people who create and share comments may not have the best language

* Need to have an account, although I think a teacher could create one account and have all students use it

Help Me with My Podcast!

You’ve decided that podcasting is something you’re ready to try, but you are a little overwhelmed. Yes, you have Garage Band (sorry PC users) but when you opened it up, you had no idea where to start. For those Garage Band users, Apple has a wonderful how to site for a basic Podcast. Here it is.

Garage Band How To

Now you know how to, but now you’re wondering if there are any rules. What advice should you be giving your students before they get started? In my search I ran across many sites to answer these questions. Some are more geared towards business podcasts, but they still have great information.

How to Podcast

Top 10 Podcasting Do’s and Don’ts

Slideshare Presentation on Podcasts

Now what can you do. Here are some ideas:

Write Jingles for objectives, do a weather report to share around the world, become an expert on a topic and share what you know, communicate with other students all over the world, create your own songs and publish them online, communicate with parents about upcoming events

Here is a podcast with ideas for podcasts:

Podcast on Podcasting

Have Fun

Holy Flickr Batman!

Sorry for the cheesy title, but being that I was amazed by what I found and the new movie just coming out, I couldn’t resist. So I was searching for sites that help users use Flickr (go to the bottom of this post if this is what you are looking for) when I ran across a blog of someone who found some neat things to do with Flickr. In my first post about Flickr I talked about how Flickr could be used so others can see photos and how a teacher could post photographs taken by students on a class blog so students all over the world could see photos. While this is nice, it was not without its limitations and while I didn’t include it in my post, I was left wanting to be wowed. Well here is the “wow” factor you can get with a Flickr account.

http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/

Using Big Huge Labs you can access your Flickr photos and use them to create magazine covers, ID badges, trading cards, and even jigsaw puzzles. Students do not need to have accounts on Big Huge Labs or a Flickr account either. If the teacher sets up a class Flickr account then all students can access those photos and use them to create their own projects. Then students could upload their magazine cover to the Flickr accound or print. 4th graders at Fulton visit St. Mary’s City every year to see what life was like in colonial Maryland. Imagine if they had to make a magazine cover for a magazine based in Colonial Maryland with photographs they took while visiting St. Mary’s City. This is just one idea. When you look at all the options you have with Big Huge Labs, there is so much you can do. When looking at another site, I also found that there are several sites like Big Huge Labs which you can use your Flickr account to make things. Here are the sites I ran across.

http://websearch.about.com/b/2005/08/22/make-your-own-magazine-cover.htm

http://langwitches.org/blog/2008/01/12/flickr-use-for-teachers/

Now back to the reason I first started my search-a how to use Flickr site. Here is a great site which covers most of the options Flickr has to offer and how to use them.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17939_109-9703620-2.html

Comics on the Web: A Comparison

This year I was fortunate enough to have access to “ComicLife” a program that lets students create Comics on the Mac. When I did use “ComicLife” the kids were extremely engaged and their finished products were not only amazing looking, but showed a great amount of understanding of the objectives. It was a great tool! However, not every computer had it nor is it free for everyone to use. When I started to research Web 2.0 I was definitely interested in seeing if there was a comic site that was comparable or serviceable so everyone could use it. I found 3 sites worth noting: http://www.bitstrips.com/create/comic/, www.pixton.com/home, and www.kerpoof.com.

http://www.bitstrips.com/create/comic/

As you can see bitstrips makes a pretty nice looking comic. I immediately was able to make a comic, but you can’t save or click and drag them to your desktop. If you sign-up, which is free, you can then save them on the site and let others see them. When you save you have to specify whether other people can alter them. I won’t suggest having your students sign-up. This means that if you want your students to use it they have to print them at the end of class. This leads to the next issue. While it is very nice looking it runs really slow. I was getting frustrated when I would let go of a character and trying to grab something else only to drag the first character off the page. This means I had to start over with expressions and positions. If I used this site with my students, I would give them a day to learn how to use it so they were able to finish their work during the following class when they would be turning in a project. While it looks good, I’d wait for them to improve speed so it isn’t so frustrating.

www.pixton.com/home

Pixton is another comic site that I ran across. In my opinion, it isn’t quite as nice looking, but it does the trick. In order to create a comic, though, you have to get an account. Once again, it’s free, but we don’t want the students signing up for accounts. This site also suffers from a slow processing, but I didn’t get frustrated near as often. The most exciting part is that they are in the process of making a special part of the site for schools. This means they will be designing a site with education and schools in mind. They are looking to use it as a collaborative tool. Here is a pdf all about it.

schoolmail_brochure

www.kerpoof.com

Kerpoof probably looks the nicest and is set-up for a child. It is similar to “Kidspirations” set-up with pictures and tools around the page that only need to be drug onto the paper. Students can also create multiple pages. It has a print button and the ability to email the pages to your teacher. You do need an account if you are going to email, but you don’t need one to print. The downside, Kerpoof randomly selects the graphics you can use. If you tell the students to draw a comic about brushing your teeth, you probably won’t get any graphics dealing with teeth and the characters might all be animals or soldiers which aren’t going to be too helpful.

All the different sites have their pros and cons, but I would lean more toward Pixton. It may not be the best graphics or easiest to use, but it is serviceable in both areas, but also is the best for a teacher assigning a topic for the students to cover. I can’t wait to see what they do with the Pixton for Schools. Hopefully it comes out soon.

Podcasts: Hearing from the Source

So I have had my students record themselves, but never have I posted them. Having the students create something where their actual voice can be heard all over the world is extremely motivating and has a high impact on their quality of work. Students aren’t going to do a quick read, but put a great deal of time and effort into the work because everyone can see it.

I personally prefer to use “Garageband” to create my podcasts. When creating a podcast a student can have background music (copyright free) playing in the background or as an introduction. In “Garageband” they can create the music themselves. All students need to do is hit the record button and they are on.

Communicating back in forth and actually hearing the voice of another child in another place is the engaging part. How you decide to use this motivation with the students is endless. Students can perform an experiment with students in Colorado to see if the elevation plays a factor and report their findings on a podcast. Students can share what a day in the life of a student in Florida, Canada, France, or China is like. Students can talk about the holidays they will be celebrating in the next month with students in other countries and learn how different countries celebrate different holidays. A once a week weather report can be posted and shared with classes all over the country to see how weather is different in Florida, Maine, and Maryland. Put don’t feel like you have to read this, hear for yourself. Click Here!

Flickr: Not Just a Photo Sharing Site!

My wife is addicted to “Flickr”, a Web 2.0 photography site used to organize, share, and even purchase pictures taken with your digital camera. While I found it to be neat on the couple of occasions when she walked me through some of its’ uses, I didn’t really think about using it in my classroom. When I saw it on the list of Web 2.0 examples, I began to let my mind wander on how it could be used for educational and telecollaborative purposes.

I soon found there was much more to “Flickr” than meets the eye. For a free basic account, a person can begin uploading photos and can organize them in up to 3 categories. A person can mark pictures as public, which means anyone can see them, or private where only those people given permission can see them. A person does not need to have a “Flickr” account in order to view the pictures, so linking it to your blog makes the photo’s available for any student to see. Also, included with a basic account, is the ability to plot on a map where photo’s were taken so people can see exactly where the photo was taken. On the downside, there is a limited amount of space and 3 categories does not seem like much, but this is for free. With $25 though, you can purchase a year long subscription with unlimited categories and space available.

The more I looked at “Flickr” the more I thought about students from different cultures, communities, and backgrounds. While writing an epal can be very informative of other children around the world a picture is so much more powerful. Students can take photos of their cultures, communities, and lives and post them on a teachers “Flickr” account. Comments can be posted underneath pictures just like on blogs, so students can ask questions and make comments in response to photographs.

On the right side of my blog you will see a spot that says “Flickr Photos” and three photos that are part of my photostream. Feel free to check them out.