App of the Week – Strip Designer
Have you ever thought about giving an assignment to your students where they would create a comic strip? Well, you should! For that task, you can recommend the use of this great iPad app called Strip Designer. This is an app created by Vivid Apps (priced today as $2.99) that allows you to create a comic strip using the photos from the iPhone or iPad photo album or camera. For a quick demo of this app watch the video embedded below. To download this app click HERE. If you have used this app in your classroom please let us know by commenting on this post! We would love to learn about your personal experiences and we would love to share them with other Texas Wesleyan folks! Here are some tips from edapps.ca:
Six Reasons To Get Your Students Making Comic Strips/Books
1) It’s Fast! Many apps are so simple to use that you barely even need to show students how the tool works. It takes about 5 minutes to get a class started and show them the basic functions the very first time (or just show them the video above), and than they are working. If they have a good plan, it shouldn’t take very long to finish.
2) Students Have To Think! Science, Math, Social, or English, I can promise you students won’t easily find what you’re asking them to make. Students are forced to synthesize information, and create dialogue from facts. They also must be succinct, adding to the challenge.
3) Students Love It! I’ve gone into over a dozen classrooms to help out with doing cartooning in class. From elementary to high school, kids love it! Now, if you make them do it all the time, I’m sure the appeal will quickly die, but it certainly is a different type of assignment for them. Everyone likes cartoons, and apps like Strip Design take the challenge out of having to draw and allow students to focus on the content.
4) Its Accessible! Students who might struggle with a writing-heavy assignment due to low levels of literacy can still thrive, and show off what they know!
5) They LiveOn! Students can e-mail their comics, save them to a computer, and post them on social media sites such as Facebook. Students not only create their comics but they can get feedback from others this way. It’s a whole new meaning for literacy, and a new challenge, to get people to rally around your message.
6) Rework and Reuse Old Assignments! You don’t have to come up with a brand new idea and toss out old assignments. Sometimes the easiest way to start making change to your practice is a simple modification. My first cartoon came from an old assignment, where I used to ask students to take on a historical figure in science and write a letter about their own thoughts/discoveries. Now the assignment requires students to create simple dialogue that will portray the same knowledge. Students are creating new stories instead of old reports, and including a visual literacy element as well.
Three Tips to Make It Work in Your Classroom
1) Plan In The Classroom! Get students to plan before you let them ‘play’ on the iPad. It is even better if you can give them a graphic organizer (table/chart) to help them. Get students to consider, for each slide: the background, characters, other objects & prompts, & the dialogue. This is really where most of the thinking is going to occur, and so we want them to spend some time here.
2) Show Them How It Works, Before They Plan! I know, I just said planning has to happen first, and that is true, we want students to learn the value of planning ahead. But the planning will be much easier for them if they know how the app works, and what kinds of stuff they can find inside the comic
3) Make Them Explain! Actually, I have students do this for every kind of assignment. When students justify choices they’ve made (and when they know that they will have to justify choices in advance of making them), they tend to put more thought into what they do. They seem to become more conscious of their choices.