Comics for the classroom
Storytelling and the ability to express ideas is a fundamental skill that pupils should acquire, independently of the subject or educational level. Given the visual orientation of children and young people, who are used to spending their leisure time among different types of screens, they may find a text format too limiting when they want to express themselves.
Adapted to different age groups, the comic offers a visual discourse which is easily understandable and makes it an exciting and user friendly resource for practising and improving reading comprehension, for introducing or summarising topics or for making schematic representations of reality. It is also an attractive tool for expression which allows you to develop your creativity. It is therefore an enriching teaching aid, provided that the age and maturity of the pupils, the level of complexity of the material used and its relation with programme contents are taken into account.
We can see many examples of the use of comics in eTwinning projects. Here we present just a few:
In Searching twelve labours to Hercules, Spanish and Italian pupils have made their research on this classical hero more fun by creating short cartoon strips in which he stars.
Included in the “Good manners section” of Into news!, we find an international guide, in the form of a comic, with simple messages about how to behave in the 5 participating countries: Spain, the United Kingdom, Poland, Germany and Slovenia. The guide is the final product of the project on welcoming Willy, an imaginary character who travels from city to city in these five countries and has to learn to improve his behaviour which at times is rather impolite.
In Family lab, the latest project developed by the same partners as Into news!, they have created a multitude of comic strips with which, as well as once more showing us good manners, they also present antisocial attitudes like racism and violence against women.
The title of the project Comicnication already gives a clue as to the leading role that the comic has played in this project. Initially used so that the Spanish, English and Polish students could be introduced to each other, this technique was later used by them in greater depth to share their favourite characters and finally to become the authors of their own comics, created in collaboration with the pupils from the different schools (this project won the prize for the best collaborative activity in 2010).
In Pek, the traveller flea, the close collaboration among Spanish, Greek, Turkish, Rumanian and French students, made it possible to present a comic in different formats translated into the languages of all the participants. In this case a flea has been chosen to travel around Europe and the pupils have had to create and describe the adventures of this tiny animal.
As you can see, the didactic possibilities that the comic offers are infinite. In the Internet you can find numerous ICT tools which are free and easy to use, for example:
Pixton, on-line software used in several outstanding projects, allows you to freely design cartoon strips and balloons, create your own characters and vary their postures and facial expressions. The products can also be made public and shared with other comic enthusiasts or, if you prefer, they can remain private. Although there is a version which you can buy, specially designed for use in schools, with Pixton for fun you have all this range of tools free.
Creaza cartoonist is a free tool with a range of thematic backgrounds, characters and figures, with the alternative of combining them with your own images. It also has a social network where you can share, comment on, and add suggestions to, the products of its community.
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