Comic Design – What’s in Your Toolkit?

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It’s Comic Design season in Year 4 with a new theme this year, based around a literacy focus on the tale of Aladdin adventures. In Pass The Comics Please – A Underrated Genre I wrote about previous project themes, and as per usual practice the original pilot is being tweaked this year to suit a new topic.

In recent years, comic layouts, tools and callouts were introduced in separate lessons. This year, working with students who have more extensive experience of using iPads, I made the introduction shorter, gauging the extent of the comics they know about and read. This turned out to be an impressive multilingual selection!

Once we’d established what comics look like, and their variety of formats, I explained the basics of Strip Designer by Vivid Apps.frame-5-cell

Each team was asked to select one particular format so we had a comparable layout to work with.

Students worked in pairs to select objects, resources or people that ‘help them learn’ at school and take 4 photographs within the classroom area. Each of the lesson steps were posted on the IWB to enable them to work on, at their own pace.

I wanted them to explore the callout (bubble) function, make joint decisions on what to photograph [sharing the selection by 2 photos each was also possible] importing from Photos, inserting [Add] into cells, adjust colour frames etc.

The open-ended choice of both content and design tools led to a very broad range of final page styles. Throughout the lesson, we stopped to enable peers to showcase their design discoveries. This means that students are able to self-direct, and will, in practice, experiment faster than if we followed a set of specific lessons sets on the different design elements.

The role of the teachers is a supporting, pace setting role, demonstrating additional editing options at timely, meaningful points in the design process.

A few Teacher Tips:

  • Think about whether you want your callout to be speech/thought/sound related. Which shape suits which? Discuss rounded, cloud-like and spiky edge callouts.
  • Minimal text. The challenge is to ‘say more with less’ by working on what you say well, rather than [as a few found] adding emojis.
  • Ask a friend: peers encouraged to know who the ‘Go-To’ experts were for e.g. framing, cell adjustment, filters, font/shape fill colour adjustments.

Year 4 has three classes and each had very different design responses, although students in all classes were equally excited learners, and collaborators. Here you can see the speed with which students are getting to grips with tools, and collaborating to experiment with different effects.

In an earlier post DQ – Developing Next Generation Digital Skill Sets, I referred to developing my thinking on which #DQ topics and activities promote skills in the 8 areas shown below:  DQ #2Where does this lesson fit?

Digital Identity:

Digital Co-Creators: students co-create and are digital citizens engaging with & combining different media for a given design purpose.  

Digital Literacy:

Content Creation, Computational, Critical Thinking: to decide what gets where.           How  do we activate a tool, how do we edit, move, adjust a selected element?

Digital Safety:

Content Risks: Do we know who will see the images, if we include people at school, did you ask permission? Do those people know we have taken their photo?   

Digital Emotional Intelligence:

Emotional Awareness/Regulation: making appropriate choices for the language used in callouts. Some students needed explanation of what may or may not fit the context of the image they accompany. For example, in one photo of two teachers the callout held  “HAhahahahhah.” We discussed if this would be a relevant comment within the context of  the people who help us learn, what would a teacher be more likely to say?  

Other callouts featuring “HEY”, “AWESOME!!!” and “COOLL!!” or multiple emojis also provided the opportunity for further discussion and language used in different genres.






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