Using comics in the classroom

A few years ago at Teachers College, I took a course in Content Area Literacy with Professor Margorie Siegel.  I really felt like I walked away with a much better understanding of what other content area classes look like in the K-12 world thanks to this course.  Additionally, during this time, I learned about what is now one of my favorite tools to spice up a lesson or materials--Comic Life.

I think that this easy-to-use program has been well known by many educators for a number of years.  The program is free (at least for the first 30 days), and I find it to be very intuitive.  There are already a number of articles written that justify using and creating comics in the ESL/EFL or language classroom. 

What I like to do is to create listening activities using this program.  I had students watch a short documentary about my friend, Paul Miller, who had recently quit the internet for a year.  Then, I took screenshots of the documentary to make a comic about it.  I asked students to then fill in the speech bubbles in the comic using the information they had heard in the documentary.  This seemed to really engage my students, and I think they liked the less traditional activity.  Usually, we watch Ted Talks, take notes, and answer questions about the notes, so this was certainly going in a different direction for a listening activity.  If you haven't yet checked out Comic Life, you should!  Give yourself 20 minutes or so to play around with it--I think you'll be pleased by the creative assignments and activities you can make.