Kick off the school year with a fun and creative writing activity.
Are you looking for a fun way to get kids writing from the very start of the school year? Getting your students to write meaningful responses isn't always easy. Writing, and the many layers of the writing process -- thinking of an idea, writing it down, fixing spelling and adding punctuation, using voice to make it interesting, and making sure it is written in a logical order -- can be difficult or intimidating, especially for students who struggle with writing.
Creating stories with comic strips can be a great solution! It's fun and motivating. It allows students to use voice and creativity in their writing. And the layout of comic strips is a useful tool to help students plan a beginning, middle, and end to their story. These five great tools for writing with comic strips can help teachers kick off the year with fun, non-threatening writing exercises that also establish good routines that will carry through the whole year.
Have students use Storyboard That to illustrate your classroom rules or give examples and non-examples of what each rule looks like in your classroom. App Smash it by downloading your Storyboard That creation into a PowerPoint or Google slideshow. Embed it into a website, and you have a scrolling comic strip. See an example here.
Have students introduce themselves by creating a comic strip to share interesting facts about themselves: their favorite subject, favorite after-school activity, family. Have students keep their identity a secret using only the comic version of themselves to share and see if their classmates can guess who is who.
As a class, create a comic book-style story about important people in the school they need to know. Using the story Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. as a mentor text, let students take pictures of people in the school (principal, secretary, etc.) and create their own book: Teacher, Teacher, what do you see? I see a principal looking at me.
Give a digital makeover to the age-old "what I did over the summer" assignment. Have students use Google Earth to find places they visited (or wanted to visit) over the summer and insert screenshots into Strip Designer to map it out.
Although this is not technically a comic strip writing tool, it is a digital book with comic-like characters that can be used to write a story. Try creating a collaborative ABC book of classroom procedures that can be reread, especially after long breaks like winter break, when students need reminders about classroom procedures. Each student or group can create a page: A is for accessing the class website, B is for bathroom procedures, C is for cafeteria procedures, D is for drinking fountain procedures ...
Photo "Christmas Decorations" by Kevin Dooley. Used under a CC BY 2.0 license.