Making comics

I recently saw this resource and thought how useful it would be to teach about story structure but couldn’t quite see my way into how i might start to use it with children. I do, however, remember reading my most favourite book of the year last year – Syllabus by Lynda Barry.  This is the book of her syllabi for imagination/comics/originiality/writing and so, so much  more. I can’t tell you how much i enjoyed it and actually practise some of the things that she sets her students to do.

Some of her ways into drawing and story would really suit introducing children to comics and making full use of the resource offered by Ways with Words, who also have resources linked to comics.

Barry introduces her students to drawing characters as Ivan Brunetti describes. We can all draw circles, triangles and wavy lines and therefore we can all draw characters. Practising drawing them in different positions is really useful and exploring them in different settings very supportive for story-making. Barry includes copying photographs and other people’s drawings/cartoons as ways of looking and moving your arm/hand in different ways. Allow children to do this to find their cartoon characters. A good way to develop this is a Drawing Jam. Fold a piece of paper into 8 rectangles and draw a line across the top of each box to create a space for a heading.  On your piece of paper write in the heading box the name of an occupation or style of person e.g. robbber, demon, superhero etc. Pass the paper on to the person next to you who writes another occupation and so on until all 8 headings have been completed. Take your paper back and then in the spaces underneath you have 1 minute for each box to draw the character in the heading. No stick people allowed. This kind of activity produces a kind of original drawing that is always fantastic.

Ask the children to choose one of the characters from their drawing jam and draw it again but this time on a rectangle of card. Imagine where this character is and draw in the background.  With a partner talk about the sorts of stories that this character is in, what happens to them and what you like about them.

Take 6 more cards and choose from this list to draw on them:

  1. draw a scene that shows the setting for a story
  2. a scene that shows your character in a day to day activity – what an average day is like
  3. a scene that introduces another character
  4. a scene about an object or special trait that your character has
  5. a scene that shows your character engaged in a significant action
  6. something from your character’s childhood
  7. your character talking to someone, trying to persuade them
  8. the climactic scene for your character
  9. what happens a day later to your character
  10. a year later

Order your cards and see how they might fit into the comic layout introduced as the first resource in this post. Talk your story to a parner.  What is needed in the gaps to complete the story. Draw cards to fill in the gaps.

You can now create your comic using the format from Ways with Words.

Do you teach comic making in your class?


Forgetting and Remembering

I had forgotten, and then rediscovered photopeach!  Since I last visited photopeach has added the facility to include a quiz.
Working Walls on PhotoPeach
Children under 13 must have the registration form completed by a parent/guardian.  There are a myriad of uses for teachers.  What do you do with all those photos taken during trips or of the up and coming christmas play?  I find it easier to use than Animoto although there is not the same choice of music available to accompany the film.

Blogging to improve children’s writing

Many teachers are now using blogging with their pupils or students.  There are a whole range of types of blog post and these can be used to develop a range of writing styles and text types particularly in non-fiction writing.  These ideas have been taken from the slideshow The 25 Basic Styles of Blogging by rohitbhargava.

  • Review blogging – this type of post can be used by writing reviews of books read, films watched or software used (non-chronological report)
  • List blogging – this is a very common type of blog post and quite often attracts a lot of readers.  Children could write top 10 books read, games played, dinosaurs or anything they are interested in
  • Ambition blogging – this is blogging about something in an effort to try and achieve it.  This type of post could be used at the beginning, middle and end of the year to set targets and review learning.  It would be especially useful linked in to parents evenings (chronological or non-chron report depending on how organised)
  • Photo blogging – also known as phlogging is a great way to ring the changes.  Here children would use an image or series of images to deliver their message.  This could be something such as the Flickr idea of a story told through five images, images from the classroom or an event
  • Video blogging – or vlogging is a great way to share film that children create
  • Interview blogging – this is where an interview is included in the post either as a podcast or video.  It can be linked to a visitor to the school or classroom or children can go out and interview others.  The quality of the questions used will determine the success of the interview
  • Life blogging – for children this is often achieved through role play and drama where the children write in character.  They are the pirate or the character in the story and the posts are literally a diary of events and feelings. (recount in the form of a diary or biography)
  • Event blogging – this type of post is not difficult to achieve in a school.  There are sports days, trips and major incidents all of which provide a stimulus for writing. (recount could be in the form of news report)
  • Survey blogging – this is where the blogger asks their readers for an opinion about something.  For instance if writing a discursive text they could ask their readers for an opinion about the subject
  • Link blogging – this is where the post contains a series of links to other resources with a brief description about why they are being suggested.  Children could create posts like this towards the end of a topic as a bibliography or in preparation for a special event.
  • How to blogs – these posts explain how to do something and frequently include labelled diagrams.  This might move children away from always writing recipes when they have to write instructions. (instructions)

Each of these types of posts on a blog require slightly different ways of writing and have their own structures and language features .  The challenge is for us to extend children’s repertoires.  They can also challenge us as teachers to write.

Are your children writing a range of types of post?  Why not join the edublogs 2009 Student Blog Challenge


The Digital Narrative

I have been sharing ideas over the past few weeks about digital storytelling and have previously mentioned the website The Digital Narrative .  This site is such a wealth of information that I thought it would be worthwhile pointing out some of my favourite parts of this site.

The front page is where updates about new resources for storytelling are listed plus what is happening generally on the site.  At the moment there is a link to Vuvox which looks like a great tool for upper KS2 pupils to use.  I shall definitely be using this tool to share the photos from our Talk for Writing Conference on the 4th February.

The Media Library part of the site is a list of resources to support digital storytelling with links.  Here Vozman looks like it might be worth investigating.

If it is ideas for storytelling that you are looking for then the Teaching Method page is the one to head for.  I particularly like the video on this page because it reminds me why we should be engaging with digital storytelling with children.  From this page you can also find links to a list of digital fiction written by children and adults.  This is a great place to start to discuss why a particular way of telling a story has been chosen and its effectiveness.

And finally, if you would like to see more websites abut digital storytelling head for the Resources page.

There is something for everyone here.  Enjoy.




Using Animoto, Slideshare and BigHugeLabs

I recently joined a fantastic group called Images4Education where as a very large, international group we are undertaking a six week course in using images in education.  Our task for week 3 was to use  some photographs and try out three slide shows; Animoto, Slideshare and BigHugeLabs.  I was already familiar with the first two so thought that I would use the same photos in each slideshow and share what I learnt about them and when I might use them in the classroom with children.

The images I used were all taken on a project launch that we had earlier in January looking at improving writing.  One of the aspects that we modelled was creating a working wall.  This is a temporary display that we build as we move through a teaching sequence.  These images show the working wall.

This first show is created in Animoto.  What is good about this is you input your images, add some music from their collection of music, thus avoiding copyright issues, and then Animoto will put it all together for you. 

BigHugeLabs is something that was new to me.  Another good name for it is Flickr toys!  To use this site you need a Flickr account .  You input your slides from Flickr, organise the order and your presentation is made.  The disappointing aspect of this is that there is no embed code only a URL code so it doesn’t look as good on blogs or wikis. (If I missed the embed code and someone knows about it please let me know)

View slideshow

And finally SlideShare.  Here you upload your powerpoint and, if you want, a voice track which I made in Audacity. The programme then allows you to section the sound track to synchronise with the slides which is quite nifty.

View more presentations or upload your own. (tags: teaching literacy)

 So what did I learn?

  • Sort out the orientation of your slides in Flickr before importing into BigHugeLabs
  • For the purposes of my slideshow, Slideshare was the most appropriate.
  • Although BigHugeLabs was easy to use, the fact that I can’t embed it means that I don’t think it is quite as useful as the other two.  The image quality is very good.
  • Animoto is great where you want the images to do the talking.  I have an educator account and so can make much longer videos.  It is worth signing up for one.

Overall, it is clear the that the purpose of your show will determine which tool you use.

Links to other posts:

Let me know what your experiences are of these three tools.



Doing More with Powerpoint

Using PowerpointPlex

This is a downloadable add on for Powerpoint that means that you can set up slideshows that can travel through the slides in any order and can zoom in and out on any of the slides.  (This is a bit like the movement in Photo Story 3).  Have a look at it on this video.

You do need to have Powerpoint 2007 or a later version but it will enhance story telling slideshows that your class make.  Click here to go to Office Labs to download the application.

Photo Story 3 versus Animoto

There is a lot of talk at the moment about Animoto.  This is a site that you upload your images to, you can now add text and add music and it will then turn  your pictures into a film zooming in and out of the images and changing the transitions.

My question is how is this different/better than Photo Story 3?  With Photo Story 3 there are none of the e-safety issues which admittedly  Animoto have found a way around but it involves setting up dummy emails etc.  Anyone got any views on this?