Today I stumbled across this tool called Stripgenerator whilst looking through my Google reader.   There seem to be a lot of flash based comic book creators out there at the moment and I’ve already blogged about Comiqs.   I decided that I’d follow the same sort of format and allow the children a complete carte blanche to see what they came up with.

I was really pleased with the results, within minutes the children had started to come up with all sorts of wild and wacky stories that were really creative.   I thought that this could be a really useful stimulus for the start of a creative writing lesson.   The children would have three pannels that effectively have the beginning middle and end of a story.

It’s only a comic isn’t it?

AIM: To give the children an open ended task without constraint and see what they produced.

To record the skill that I observed and that were being developed.

To have some fun!

WHY:   After yesterday’s post about the massive change I believe needs to take place in education, I decided that I needed to put my money where my mouth is and actually give the children the freedom to explore ideas and create something.   I decided to use a site I’d come across called Comiqs.

blogpost from mrkp on Comiqs

The task that I set the children was as open ended as it could be.   Simply I showed them the site and told them that their task was to create a comic of their own.   The subject was entirely up to them and there would be no time limit.   I told them that they could use anywhere in school to take photographs and that I would allow them to use any props that they could find.   I provided them with paper to sketch out a very rough storyboard and ‘trained’ some ‘comic engineers’ on how to use the digital cameras and the Comiqs site.   Other than that I sat back, facilitated and watched events unfold.

For the benefit of this post I’ll put the skills that I saw chronologically in bold capitals.

The first thing that was interesting was the discussion that went on.   Some of the ideas that the children came up with were incredible, if a little zany and at times gory.   CREATIVE THOUGHT.  

They were all different and really creative.  What quickly became clear to the children was that they were going to struggle to take photographs of these particular tales, so the discussion moved onto how ‘crazy’ a story they could tell within the limits of the school environment.   ANALYSING INFORMATION AND REASONED DECISION MAKING.

The groups then spent a long time discussing / arguing about the finer points of the story lines and trying to storyboard their ideas.   This was I think the hardest part of the process for the children, but the most constructive.   Most children found the transition from an idea in their head to an idea on paper very difficult.   The fact that they had to ‘think visually’ was very new to them.   They are after all used to writing stories in a traditional way.    However, once they realised that the pictures could be set up to show detail and add to the story development the really took off.   STORY PLANNING, CONCEPTALISATION AND DISCUSSION.

At this point I was really shocked at just how much thinking needed to go into the planning of the stories in terms of deciding exactly how a picture would / wouldn’t help the story.   Discussion moved onto close-ups, long shots etc.   MEDIA LITERACY

When children finally started to take the photographs to insert into the site it was hilarious!   Everyone was laughing and the atmosphere in the classroom was brilliant.   It was a definate ‘moment’ in teaching kids.

The Comiqs site is really intuitive to use.  The children picked it up really quickly once they had been shown the basics.

The comics have not yet been finished, it has taken us all day, but all the children have been totally engrossed, engaged and on task.   When you think about the skills that they are developing I think you have to say that its been a very successful day.   We’ve not even started the ‘proper’ writing on the comics yet!   When the children have finished I’ll post some examples and put my final lessons learnt.

I have to say I’ve not looked forward to a Monday morning like this for a very very long time!