20+ Tips and Resources to Engage Learners with Comics

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Included in the Digital Tips Advent Calendar and part of the Effective Technology Integration category
At a young age, I was interested in comic books, which was really how I learnt to read. ~ Nicholas Cage
Comics can be powerful learning tools. The mix of art, dialogue, character expressions, and frames engages learners and is brain-friendly. Moreover, comics break down a story’s plot and text into bite-sized chunks that are supported with visuals. This is much easier for our brain to process than reading a large amount of text on a page. Additionally, comics are an effective way to introduce your learners to digital storytelling. Many of the comic creation tools are easy to use allowing the learners to fill in their frames by clicking on a choice of characters, props, scenes, and more presented to them. Your learners will be able to quickly create a story, view it, and share it with their friends and family. Comics come in many formats and types to support and engage struggling readers as well as advanced readers. Creating comics engages students and encourages them to explore vocabulary, summarize information, and contextualize what they learn in a creative way. Creating comics is also being accepted as an effective way to teach complicated writing. Nick Sousanis, a doctoral candidate at Teachers College, Columbia University, wrote his PhD dissertation entirely in comic book form. View examples of his work on his blog, Spin, Weave and Cut. The following tips and free resources will help you engage learners with comics.

Ideas
The following are a few ideas to get you started using comics with your learners. Watch the recording of my webinar on this topic here!
Use as reading material
Create writing prompts- Makebeliefscomix.com has over 350+ free printables to use as writing prompts
Retell a historical event
Write dialogues
Introduce a lesson
Summarize readings
Teach idioms and phrases
Post an interview
Explore societal issues
Explore the language in jokes
Explore political issues
Introduce yourself or another person
Show how to accomplish a goal
Explore the meaning behind quotes
Give visual instructions- Howtoons.com is full of great instructional comics
Highlight the rules
Math word problems
Tell the news
Explore various definitions of a word
Visualize research
Resources
Click on any of the icons to be lead to that comic creator. Scroll down to see written descriptions of each tool.
Make Beliefs Comix– Two, three and four panel comics that you can create in multiple languages. 350+ free printables for teachers
Kerpoof– create videos, comics, and more with this free tool
Comics Head– IOS and Android app to make comics. Best one in my opinion that allows adding your own images along with their library of characters, backdrops, and more.
Friendstrip– IOS and Android app to make comics. Frames set and students can fill in the story.
Creaza– Create comics, make movies, edit audio, and more! Embed in a blog or wiki.
Bubblr– Create your comic strip with Flickr pictures and add bubbles to tell your story!
Comicmaster– Cool graphic novel creator.
Stripgenerator– You don’t have to register in order to create a comic.
Bitstrips– Not free, but offers a 30-day free trial and includes more educational support (e.g., activities) than most other comic generators.
Comic Strip Generator– You can upload photos or use web images in addition to their library of ready-to-use images.
Garfield– You can create comic strips or (in Comics Lab Extreme) comic books.
ToonDoo – The site allows students to share their comics, comment on other comics, and even save and edit a copy of a comic.
Phrase It– Add speech bubbles to pictures.
Challenge:
Try any of these ideas or tools with your students and tell us how it went.
If you enjoyed these ideas, you may want to get your copy of The 30 Goals for Teachersor my $5.99 ebook, Learning to Go, which has digital/mobile activities for any device and editable/printable handouts and rubrics. Subscribe for FREE to receive regular updates!
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